The first of the Navy’s next-generation patrol ships has been formally accepted after four months of extensive trials.
HMS Forth has been signed over to the MOD from builders BAE Systems, ready to make her debut in her future home of Portsmouth next month.
She’s the first of five offshore patrol ships built to replace the four original River-class ships which were introduced into service between 2003 and 2007.
The latter are now in the process of being withdrawn (HMS Severn paid off late last year) in favor of their successors.
Under a mixed civilian/RN crew (the latter led by Cdr Bob Laverty) Forth has been put through her paces in the Firth of Clyde and off the Scottish West Coast since the end of August.
She has a few weeks of final work and tweaks at BAE’s Scotstoun yard on the Clyde before she sails south – the first British warship to emerge from Glasgow shipyards since HMS Duncan in 2013.
Ship No.2 in the second-generation Rivers, HMS Medway, will begin her trials this spring, while No.3 (HMS Trent) will be formally named, then complete fitting out. The final two ships in the multi-million-pound program, Tamar and Spey, are under construction along the Clyde at BAE’s Govan yard.
Each will displace around 2,000 tonnes, be able to conduct month-long patrols, launch and recover Fleet Air Arm Wildcat and Merlin helicopters, and carry 24-strong boarding teams on top of a crew of just 34 souls.
New defence procurement minister Guto Bebb visited Forth and chatted with the ship’s company before observing progress on the first Type 26/City class frigate, HMS Glasgow; work has now begun on the second hull section which will be home to 59 senior ratings, the main engine room and helicopter stores.