THE first of three ships being built by BAE Systems in Portsmouth for the Royal Navy of Oman has embarked on her first sea trials in the Solent.
A combined BAE and Omani navy crew is putting the ship - Al Shamikh - through her paces, undertaking extensive testing for speed, propulsion and manoeuvrability in the first demonstration of the ship's capability at sea.
Scott Jamieson, international programmes director at BAE Systems' Surface Ships division, said: 'As first in class, Al Shamikh's trials mark a pivotal stage in the programme.
'It highlights the significant progress that has been made and clearly demonstrates the effective close working relationship we have developed with the Royal Navy of Oman and our continued commitment to deliver enhanced naval capability to our customer.'
Al Shamikh will be used to protect Omani territorial waters, carry out coastal patrols in peacetime, with the ability to conduct search and rescue, as well as disaster relief.
The ship is part of the Project Khareef contract, secured in 2007, for the design and build of three 99-metre corvettes for the Omani navy.
Following Al Shamikh's initial sea trials, she will return to Portsmouth before undergoing further testing, with weapons trials set to take place in the new year.
She is expected to be handed over to Oman next year.
Al Rahmani, the second ship in the class, was launched in July 2010 and will undertake sea trials in 2011, while the third ship, Al Rasikh, will be launched in March 2011.