Posted: March 10, 2017 12:28 PM

Royal Navy Names First New Offshore Patrol Vessel

LONDON — The first of the Royal Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) has been formally named in Scotland, the U.K. Ministry of Defence (MOD) said in a March 9 release.

The 90-meter warship, which will be tasked with vital counterterrorism, anti-smuggling and maritime defense duties, was named HMS Forth in honor of the famous Scottish river in a ceremony at the BAE Systems Scotstoun shipyard.

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

The work to build HMS Forth and its sister ships is sustaining 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.

“As part of a sustained program delivering world-class ships and submarines, HMS Forth’s naming is a vitally important part of the government’s 10-year £178 billion [$216.4 billion] plan to provide our armed forces with the equipment they need,” said Harriett Baldwin, minister for Defence Procurement. “From counternarcotics operations in the Caribbean, to securing the U.K.’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 tons, it has a maximum speed of around 24 knots and can sail 5,500 nautical miles without having to resupply.

“With the naming of HMS Forth, the Royal Navy looks forward to another impending arrival in our future fleet,” said Adm. Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and chief of naval staff. “In a few short years, these five Offshore Patrol Vessels will be busy protecting the security of U.K. 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 ($787.7 million) in the OPV program, and its delivery is one of the key commitments laid out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015.

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