Sailors breathe life into Navy’s greenest ship, HMS Tamar

The mess decks, passages and compartments of Britain’s newest – and greenest – warship echo with Jackspeak as 40 sailors take charge of HMS Tamar.

Just one day after the fourth of five second-generation River-class ships was formally transferred to the Royal Navy by builders BAE Systems, 40 men and women filed up the gangway to begin turning Tamar into a living, breathing warship.

They started with a first meal for everyone – plus some of the BAE engineers and shipwrights who’ve built her ¬– the Royal Navy favourite: cheesy, hammy, eggy (also known as a cheesy wham bam, or cheese, ham and egg on toast).

Tamar was formally ‘named’ (rather than launched) in March last year in the presence of her sponsor, Lady Brigitte Peach.

The ship regards herself as a ‘Batch 2 Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessel’ with some marked changes/improvements over her older sisters Forth, Medway and Trent.

Although the fundamentals are the same – 2,000 tonnes, 6,000-mile range, Merlin-capable flight deck, 30mm main gun, accommodation for up to 50 Royal Marines – the internal layout has been altered.

Perhaps most interestingly, she’s the ‘greenest’ ship in the Fleet – fitted with ‘catalytic converters’ which reduce nitrogen-based emissions from her engine exhausts by up to 95 per cent.

The first crew joined in November – when Tamar also conducted her sea trials ¬– but the bulk of the ship’s company only arrived on the Clyde at the beginning of February – raising the curtain on a hectic few weeks.

“The ship’s company moving on board is a considerable achievement considering the bulk of them only joined three weeks ago,” said Lieutenant Commander Michael Hutchinson, Tamar’s first commanding officer.

“The team have worked extremely hard to ensure that they have achieved the necessary level of training to move onboard safely and complete this really important milestone in our generation.”

Weather allowing, they’ll take Tamar to sea for the first time as a Royal Navy warship in April, conduct a short period of safety and engineering training and trials, then make their maiden entry into Portsmouth.

The rest of the year will be spent conducting trials and training to prepare Tamar for her inaugural deployment.

Like her sisters Forth and Medway (and, in the autumn, HMS Trent), will be dispatched long-term under the banner of Forward Presence, operating ships out of ports around the globe, rotating the crew every few weeks to keep the vessels on patrol longer. The final ship in the class, HMS Spey, is undergoing fitting out before she too is handed over.

The team have worked extremely hard to ensure that they have achieved the necessary level of training to move onboard safely and complete this really important milestone in our generation.