HMS Spey, the fifth and final River Class Batch 2 Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), departed BAE Systems’ shipyard in Glasgow on her delivery voyage to her new home of Portsmouth Naval Base. Having recently completed a programme of successful sea trials to fully test the vessel, HMS Spey will now join her four sister ships in the Royal Navy fleet. HMS Spey’s departure marks the completion of the Batch 2 OPV programme build phase, which has seen BAE Systems design, construct, commission and deliver five River Class OPVs to the Royal Navy in six years. Thanks to a urea filter which reduces nitrogen oxide emissions from the diesel generators by about 90%, HMS Spey will be one of the most environmentally friendly ships to join the fleet.
The OPV programme has provided a significant opportunity to continue to invest in new cutting-edge technologies and processes to deliver greater capabilities to the Royal Navy. It has also supported the development of new talent that will now go on to contribute to the successful delivery of the next generation City Class Type 26 ships, which are also being designed and built by BAE Systems on the Clyde. At its peak, the programme sustained approximately 1400 jobs within BAE Systems and delivered a supply chain spend of almost £240m to more than 150 suppliers across the UK and Europe. The pace of the programme also provided a valuable opportunity for more than 200 BAE Systems apprentices to experience all aspects of ship design, construction, outfitting and test and commissioning.
Through these programmes, the Company is able to maintain critical engineering skills that are vital to sustaining the UK’s world-leading industrial base, as well as supporting the continual development of its employees’ capabilities in the design, construction, and integration of complex warships. Upon arriving into Portsmouth, HMS Spey will be officially handed over to the Royal Navy. Once commissioned, she will enter a period of ship’s staff workup and her first maintenance period under the Contractor Logistics Support programme (CLS) which will be delivered by BAE Systems’ Maritime Services business, which delivers upkeep and maintenance for the entire Royal Navy surface fleet based at Portsmouth.
The River class is a class of offshore patrol vessels built primarily for the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. A total of nine were built for the Royal Navy (RN), four Batch 1 and five of the significantly different Batch 2. One Batch 1 (HMS Clyde), which was the Falklands guard-ship, has been decommissioned and sold to the Royal Bahrain Naval Force. The Batch 1 ships of the class replaced the seven ships of the Island class and the two Castle-class patrol vessels. HTMS Krabi was the first of two ships adapting the River design for the Royal Thai Navy and built in Thailand. The three ships of the Amazonas-class corvette in service with the Brazilian Navy were developed from the Batch 1 River-class design, and the Royal Navy’s Batch 2 ships were in turn based upon the Amazonas design.
The five new Batch 2 ships provide overseas Forward Presence, performing maritime security duties and disaster relief operations, often supported by a Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel. According to BAE Systems, the vessels are designed to deploy globally, conducting anti-piracy, counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling tasks currently conducted by frigates and destroyers. Steel was cut on 10 October 2014 and started entering service from 2017, with the last being delivered in August 2020. The ships are built at the BAE Systems Govan shipyard, then transferred to the BAE Systems Scotstoun shipyard for fitting out.
The Batch 2 ships are fundamentally different in appearance and capabilities from the preceding Batch 1. Notable differences include the 90.5 metres (296 ft 11 in) long hull, a top speed of 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph), Merlin-capable flight deck, a displacement of around 2,000 tonnes and greatly expanded capacity for accommodating troops. The Batch 2 ships also have a different (full width) superstructure, and a fundamentally different above-water hullform shape (greater bow flare, different & less-pronounced forward knuckle line compared to the Batch 1 ships, lack of the distinctive fwd & aft bulwarks of the Batch 1 vessels). The class is also fitted with the Kelvin Hughes SharpEye integrated radar system for navigation, the Terma Scanter 4100 2D radar for air and surface surveillance, and a BAE CMS-1 Combat Management System.