With the naming of HMS Forth, the Royal Navy looks forward to another impending arrival in our future Fleet

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones

Also watching proceedings was the nation's ranking sailor, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones.

"With the naming of HMS Forth, the Royal Navy looks forward to another impending arrival in our future Fleet," he said.

"In a few short years, these five Offshore Patrol Vessels will be busy protecting the security of UK waters and those of our overseas territories."

Sea trials are lined up later this year before being officially handed over to the RN ready for front-line duties next year, followed by Medway and Trent in 2019 with Tamar and Spey completing the quintet - all based in Portsmouth - by 2021.

As with the four first-generation Rivers - which have proved to be far more versatile and useful than originally envisaged 15 years ago - the second batch will be expected to perform a wide range of duties at home and abroad: fishery protection, maritime security, counter-narcotics/people trafficking/terrorism and generally acting as the eyes and ears of the RN around the UK on a daily basis.

Instead of a crew of around 45, Forth and her sisters will go to sea with 58 souls aboard (although they can operate with just 36 crew…and have space for 70). All five ships have a flight deck (only Clyde on the first generation does), each capable of accommodating a Wildcat or Merlin.

The new ships are ten metres longer, four knots faster - top speed around 24kts - with the same range of 5,500 miles.

The city of Stirling adopted Forth's predecessor, a wartime submarine depot ship - an affiliation which will now be resurrected.

HMNB Portsmouth

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