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HMS Forth Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV)
Batch 2 River-class
Mine countermeasures, Hydrographic, Patrol Craft (MHPC)
FSC C3 - Corvette Patrol Vessel

By early 2010 the C3 officially no longer exists. There is, instead, a new designation which which includes references to MCM, hydrography & patrol concept phase activities for a Future Mine Countermeasures/ Hydrographic/ Patrol Vessel (FMHPV), previously identified as FSC C3, were expected to commence in April 2010.

The Future Surface Combatant C3 Ocean-Capable Patrol Vessel [formerly the Global Corvette] consisted of around eight smaller ships [approximately 2,000-3,000 tons displacement with a range of 7,000 nautical miles] to replace minesweepers and possibly current patrol ships - they will replace a far greater number of existing vessels across various classes. Eight ships would be primarily roled for MCM as replacements for the current Hunt-class and Sandown-class vessels. Potential longer-term replacements are needed for the three River-class offshore patrol vessels, the Falkland Islands patrol vessel HMS Clyde, and the survey ships HMS Echo and HMS Enterprise.

In September 2007 VT Shipbuilding, part of VT Group, announced a design concept for the C3 element of the FSC programme - a general purpose vessels for worldwide deployment to fulfil tasks including minehunting, survey work and patrol duties. It was suggested at time that that the first of class could enter service as early as 2012, although this seemed very unlikely. In September 2007 VT unveiled its new C3 design at the DSEi exhibition and proposed to introduce the first of the new Class into service as early as 2012. VT utilized the hull of the 99-meter Ocean Patrol Vessel (OPV) it was building for the Royal Navy of Oman to develop the 100-meter FSC solution, although the ship has a larger equipment fit that increases displacement to just over 3,000 tons. In its patrol role, armament would include guns of 76 mm or 30 mm caliber and provision for surface-to-air missiles if required.

By 2010 the Mine countermeasures, Hydrographic, Patrol Craft (MHPC), formerly known as the ??Future Mine Countermeasures / Hydrographic/Patrol Vessel (FMHPV), project was in the early stages of defining a replacement for the existing Hunt and Sandown specialist vessels, some of the hydrographic vessels, and the patrol vessels. The White Paper "Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence Review" (Cm 7948), presented to the House on 19 October 2010, explained the Government's intention to make certain changes to the armed forces in order to deliver the force structure we require for the future and to help address the legacy of unaffordability in the defence budget. The Sandown and Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessels will remain in service and start the transition to a future capability from 2018 as part of the Mine countermeasures, Hydrographic, Patrol Craft (MHPC) project.

The current fleet consists of the Sandown-class (single role mine hunting) with the variable-depth multi-mode 2093, and the Hunt-class (sweeping and mine hunting) fitted with the hull-mounted 2193. Current plans seem to point to a single class of vessel about 100m in length and between 2,000 and 2,500 tonnes displacement. These will deliver on the MCM, survey and patrol requirements using a range of off board systems like USV's, UAV's and UUV's.

In the era of constricting naval budgets and high profile land operations, naval forces are striving to ensure sufficient hull numbers and to retain specialist vessel capabilities, whilst also maintaining a regional presence. Under this backdrop, cost-effective capabilities provided by OPVs are enabling these demands to be met.

In September 2010 engineering consultancy Frazer-Nash was appointed by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to develop user requirements for a proposed new maritime-based system to deliver a future Mine Countermeasures, Hydrographic, Patrol (MHPC) capability. Currently, the Royal Navy delivers this capability through a number of separate classes of vessel. The MoD is now in the process of investigating options for delivering this capability once the vessels go out of service. Working directly for the Surface Combatants Team at the MoD, Frazer-Nash's support ran to the end of 2010 and involved working closely with defence and industry stakeholders to develop a set of User and System Requirements for the new capability.

Paul Havron, Frazer-Nash's Surface Combatant Business Manager, commented: "The development of user requirements is one of the main outputs of the project's Concept Phase and so will help to inform the MOD's investment decisions. Deriving and justifying the requirements is also critical in determining the eventual path to design and we are extremely pleased to be involved at this early stage. The MHPC project is intended to meet the needs of a range of users, therefore this early concept work is critical to establishing which user requirements can be aligned and what sort of solution can best meet the requirements. This is a challenge that Frazer-Nash is well placed to handle, as we have experience in successfully delivering high level requirements work for the MoD on a number of other maritime projects, including the Type 26 Frigate and MARS Fleet Tanker."

The Royal Navy requirement's for a single-class Minehunting, Hydrography and Patrol Capability (MHPC) ship is similar to the Spanish Navy's BAM class, which is designed to meet many of these requirements also, including hydrographic research, diver support and submarine rescue on top of their primary patrol and security roles. Austrlian Defence's Project Sea 1180 seeks to replace the RAN's current force of 305 tonne Armidale-class patrol boats, 315 ton survey motor launches, 2,550 ton hydrographic ships and 720 ton Huon-class minehunters with a single class of multi-role Offshore Combatant Vessel (OCV) displacing up to 2,000 tonnes.

BAE Systems Naval Ships was awarded a £348 million contract by the UK Ministry of Defence on 12 August 2014 to construct three new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) for the UK Royal Navy. The new 90 metre vessels would be built at facilities in Glasgow and will provide additional capability for the Royal Navy. Based on a proven design, the ships would be used to support counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations in the waters around the UK and will protect other UK interests abroad.

BAE adapted the proven OPV design already in-service with the Brazilian Navy and Royal Thai Navy, to ensure it meets the requirements of the Royal Navy. Production was to start in October, with the first of class expected to be delivered to the Royal Navy in 2017. The ships will be larger and more efficient than the existing River Class OPVs, providing a step change in capability to the Royal Navy with more room for embarked personnel, the addition of a flight deck capable of landing Merlin helicopters and storage space. With a maximum speed of 24 knots and a range of 5,500 nautical miles, the ships will be globally deployable and capable of ocean patrol.

Steel was cut 10 October 2014 for the first of 3 new Royal Navy offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) at a ceremony in Glasgow. The vessels, which would be used by the Royal Navy to undertake various tasks in support of UK interests both at home and abroad, were built at BAE Systems' shipyards under a £348 million contract that protected more than 800 Scottish jobs. The first of the new OPVs was named HMS Forth and was expected to be handed over to the Royal Navy in 2017. The second was named HMS Medway and the third HMS Trent.

New offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) were not in the Navy’s core equipment program during the Coalition Government (2010-2015). In 2012 Portsmouth area MPs began pressing the Ministry of Defence to order OPVs from BAE Systems, which was at the time reviewing its shipbuilding facilities in the city. In 2012 and early 2013 the Government ruled out purchasing new vessels and also said it had no plans to operate additional OPVs to those currently in service.

Philip Hammond, then Defence Secretary, admitted “we are effectively ordering the OPVs to soak up money we would have been paying in any case to have these yards stand idle.” Lord Astor of Hever said the Government provisionally agreed a firm price of £348 million with BAE Systems for the supply of three OPVs, inclusive of initial spares and support. He said this sum is “entirely contained within provision set aside to meet the Ministry of Defence’s obligation for redundancy and rationalisation costs.” Hammond estimated the additional cost to the MOD of the ships, over and above the payments the MOD would have had to have made to BAE, is less than £100 million.

The 15 year Terms of Business Agreement guaranteed BAE Systems a minimum level of surface ship build and support activity of £230 million a year. This was judged as the minimum level of work possible to sustain a credible warship-building industry in the UK.

The Government announced in the 2015 SDSR it will buy two further new Offshore Patrol Vessels and committed to a fleet of up to six OPVs. BAE Systems welcomed Harriett Baldwin MP, Minister for Defence Procurement to its Govan shipyard in Glasgow on 08 December 2016 to announce the £287m manufacturing contract for two further River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) and support services for the five ship programme, taking the total value to £635m. Work on the additional two Offshore Patrol Vessels, named TAMAR and SPEY, will sustain skills in Glasgow and the wider supply chain, with over 100 companies involved in the program across the UK.

These names follow the River Class nomenclature of the Royal Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessel fleet and continue the tradition of recognising the service, history and Battle Honours of earlier ships of the name. Since 1758, six ships have been named after the River Tamar in South West England, and Battle Honours were won for Burma 1824-25 and Ashantee 1873-74. Most recently, HMS TAMAR was the name of the Royal Navy’s shore establishment in Hong Kong until 1997. Since 1814, seven ships have been named after the River Spey in North East Scotland, and Battle Honours were won for the Atlantic 1940-43, North Africa 1942-43 and Burma 1944-45. The most recent ship, a minesweeper, left service in 1998.

The first of the Royal Navy's new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) was formally named in Scotland 09 March 2017. The 90-metre warship, tasked with vital counter-terrorism, anti-smuggling and maritime defence duties, was named HMS Forth in honour of the famous Scottish river in a ceremony at the BAE Systems Scotstoun shipyard.

The ship soon departed on sea trials before entering service with the Royal Navy in 2018. She is the first of a fleet of five new Batch 2 River-class OPVs being built on the Clyde which were all expected to be in service by 2021.

The work to build HMS Forth and her sister ships sustained around 800 Scottish jobs, as well as the critical skills required to build the Type 26 Global Combat Ships, construction of which will begin at the Govan shipyard in the summer, subject to final contract negotiations.

HMS Forth was named by the Lady Sponsor Rachel Johnstone-Burt who, in tribute to Scottish shipbuilding and in keeping with Naval tradition, broke a bottle of whisky on the bow. Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin, said: "As part of a sustained programme delivering world-class ships and submarines, HMS Forth's naming is a vitally important part of the Government's ten-year £178 billion plan to provide our Armed Forces with the equipment they need."

"From counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean, to securing the UK's borders on patrols closer to home, the Royal Navy's new Offshore Patrol Vessels will help protect our interests around the world." HMS Forth, the fifth Royal Navy vessel to bear the name over the past two centuries, is affiliated with the city of Stirling, maintaining a connection which began when the people of the city adopted a previous ship with the name Forth during the Second World War.

It is an advanced vessel equipped with a 30mm cannon and flight deck capable of accommodating a Merlin helicopter, and manned by a crew of 58 sailors. Displacing around 2,000 tonnes, she has a maximum speed of around 24 knots and can sail 5,500 nautical miles without having to resupply.

First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, said: "With the naming of HMS Forth, the Royal Navy looks forward to another impending arrival in our future Fleet. 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."

"They are arriving in service alongside a new generation of attack submarines and Fleet tankers, and will be followed shortly by new frigates and other auxiliaries; all of this capability will coalesce around the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers. Together, they form a truly balanced Fleet, able to provide security at sea, promote international partnership, deter aggression and, when required, fight and win."

The MOD has invested £648 million in the OPV programme,bandits delivery is one of the key commitments laid out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015. Chief of Materiel (Fleet) for the MOD's Defence Equipment and Support organisation, Vice Admiral Simon Lister, said: "HMS Forth, part of the updated River class of Offshore Patrol Vessels, is one of the most advanced ships of its type and will provide the Royal Navy with the means to undertake vital operations safely and effectively."

"The naming is a significant milestone in the life of HMS Forth and in the wider Offshore Patrol Vessel programme, which is well on track to deliver all five of the new ships by the end of 2019."

The Royal Navy currently operated four Batch 1 Offshore Patrol Vessels, one based in the Falkland Islands and three at HMNB Portsmouth, operating globally on tasks ranging from counter-narcotics operations to Atlantic patrols.

The Royal Navy's Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) HMS Forth commenced its first sea trials on the River Clyde 04 September 2017. HMS Forth is the first of five new patrol ships of the same class being built to assist the navy in safeguarding fishing stocks, as well as protecting the Falkland Islands. On 30 January 2018 the Royal Navy concluded the formal acceptance of its first River-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV), HMS Forth, at the Scotstoun shipyard in Glasgow. The 90m-long navy vessel was delivered by BAE Systems and was set to remain at the shipyard to complete various additional works.

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Page last modified: 04-02-2018 19:13:00 ZULU