These ships are vastly more capable and can provide the Royal Navy with a range of flexibility from fishery protection to deploying overseas on counter-smuggling operations and protecting British Overseas Territories

Commander Bob Laverty

Designed for a total crew of around 58, but requiring only 34 to go to sea, she can spend up to 320 days a year on operations. The larger crew allows a rotation of personnel to ensure they get to spend time at home or on training.

The ship departed BAE Systems ship building base on the Clyde last week following an extended period of sea trials. They began in August 2017 and have honed the ship to its current state, ready to be handed over to the Royal Navy, which will take her onto the operational stage of her life.

The new OPVs are four knots faster than their predecessors at 24 knots, have an increased range of 5,500 nautical miles, have a 30mm automatic cannon as their main armament instead of a 20mm gun, two Miniguns, four machine-guns and are equipped with two Pacific 24 sea boats.

Each ship has an extended flight deck to operate up to Merlin size helicopters and accommodation for up to 50 embarked Royal Marines for boarding and supporting operations ashore if required.

The new OPVs will be supported at Portsmouth Naval Base by BAE Systems under the terms of the Maritime Services Delivery Framework (MSDF) contract. It was awarded to the company in 2014 to manage Portsmouth Naval base and to support the Royal Navy’s Portsmouth-based surface fleet on UK and global operations.

Bill Page, Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) manager at BAE Systems, said: “We have delivered high levels of ship availability for the River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels, over a number of years in order for the Royal Navy to complete their UK and overseas deployments successfully.

"Our team is looking forward to continuing its proven partnership with the Royal Navy and is focused on delivering a quality support service in partnership with the ships’ crews.”

The next major milestone for HMS Forth will be to undertake her first naval deployment, which is anticipated to take place later this year.

HMNB Portsmouth

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Engineering Technician (Weapon Engineering)

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