The U.K. Ministry of Defence has signed a 287 million pound ($360 million) contract with BAE Systems to build two more Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) in Scotland.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin, announced the contract for the two River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels on Thursday at the BAE Systems’ Govan shipyard in Glasgow, where the vessels will be built.
The contract brings the River Class OPV program to five ships and a total value of £635m. The Ministry of Defence says work on the five new vessels is sustaining 800 jobs at shipyards on the Clyde through contracted work, which is crucial to maintaining manufacturing skills needed to build the Navy’s future Type 26 Frigates, expected to begin sometime in 2017.
“This contract will deliver two more modern Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Navy and safeguard vital shipbuilding skills and hundreds of jobs in Scotland,” said Harriett Baldwin during her visit to Govan. “Protected by a rising Defence budget, the OPV programme is an important part of the Government’s £178 billion plan to ensure our armed forces have the equipment they need.”
The two new ships, HMS Tamar and HMS Spey, will be manufactured at the Govan shipyard before being floated to Scotstoun to be fitted out. Both are expected to be delivered in 2019.
Th offshore patrol vessel design of these new ships builds on the Royal Navy’s existing River Class ships, variants of which are already in service for navies in Brazil and Thailand. Like the other vessels of its class, HMS Tamar and HMS Spey will carry out counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling and maritime defense operations.
The vessels will displace around 2,000 tonnes and will have a maximum speed of 24 knots. They will be able to sail 5,500 nautical miles before having to resupply.
The first River-class OPV, Forth, is now docked at the BAE Systems’ Scotstoun facility with delivery to the Royal Navy expected in the second half of 2017. The second and third ship, Medway and Trent, are in different stages of assembly at Govan.
BAE Systems said last month it expects to start construction of the Type-26 anti-submarine warships in the summer of 2017, although the final construction contract had not yet been finalized. Britain is planning a total of eight Type-26 ships.
“Securing this contract for two further River Class OPVs is testament to the proven capability of the design and the tremendous skill and dedication of employees on the programme,” said Iain Stevenson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Naval Ships. “Our investment in the latest digital design technologies and new processes is enabling us to deliver equipment of the highest quality at the lowest possible cost, helping to secure the long-term future of our highly skilled industry in the UK. I am looking forward to seeing both the OPV and Type 26 ships in construction across both our shipyards in Glasgow next year.”