UK OPVs: Bridge Over the River Class
The UK’s forthcoming Ocean Class 90m+ Offshore Patrol Vessels stem from a shipbuilding sector agreement that the UK MoD signed with BAE in November 2013. Britain needed to find an affordable bridge-buy that kept its naval shipyards running in-between completion of existing ships, and delayed construction of the new Type 26 frigates. Rather than paying termination and industrial costs to keep the shipyard idle, the UK government decided to buy 3 OPVs, for delivery by 2017. This would also allow the Royal Navy to retire or gift out the existing River Class OPVs HMS Tyne, HMS Severn and HMS Mersey.
As of August 2014, the contract for these new open-ocean patrol vessels is complete…
The new British OPVs will be built at BAE Systems’ facilities in Glasgow, under a GBP 348 million contract announced on Aug 12/14. That brings the total to GBP 368 million, following a GBP 20 million long-lead parts contract announced on March 12/14.
The design based on vessels already sold abroad: Thailand’s HTMS Krabi, and the 3 similar Amazonas Class OPVs that Brazil picked up when Trinidad and Tobago cancelled their deal.
The new ships will be larger and more efficient than Britain’s existing River Class OPVs, with more room for embarked personnel, more storage space, and the addition of a flight deck capable of landing the Royal Navy’s AW101 Merlin medium-heavy helicopters. The Ocean Class are designed for a maximum speed of 24 knots, and a range of 5,500 nautical miles. Sources: UK MoD, “£348 million warship contract delivers Clyde jobs boost” | BAE, “New contract award for Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessels” | UK MoD, “£20 million contract for new Royal Navy ships” (March 2014) | UK MoD, “New offshore patrol vessels for Royal Navy” (Nov. 2013).