HMS Forth welcomed to her home port of Portsmouth

HMS Forth, the first of the Royal Navy's next-generation of Offshore Patrol ships has arrived in her home Base port of Portsmouth.

She is the first of five state-of-the-art Royal Navy vessels, designed for counter-piracy, anti-smuggling, fishery protection, border patrol, counter terrorism and maritime defence duties.

Classified as Batch 2 River-class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) HMS Forth and her sisters – HMS Trent, Medway, Tamar and Spey - are a significant upgrade on HMS Tyne, Severn, Mersey and Clyde, which were designed and built 15 years ago. HMS Forth will enter service this year, while the remaining four ships are all expected to arrive in Portsmouth by 2020.

They will become the Royal Navy’s eyes and ears around the UK, helping to safeguard fishing stocks, reassure and protect the Falkland Islands and are capable of deploying to the Mediterranean and Caribbean to safeguard the UK’s interests around the world.

Commanding Officer, Commander Bob Laverty, said: “It’s huge a privilege to be the first commanding officer of HMS Forth and I am delighted to be the first bringing to bring her into Portsmouth.

"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.”

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.