New Portsmouth warship HMS Forth takes to the water for the first time

HMS Forth is taken from the King George V dock to BAE Systems shipyard in Scotstoun where she will be fitted out Picture: John Linton
HMS Forth is taken from the King George V dock to BAE Systems shipyard in Scotstoun where she will be fitted out Picture: John Linton

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AFTER years of work, the first of the Royal Navy’s new beefed-up River-class offshore patrol vessels has finally taken to the water.

Portsmouth-based HMS Forth is part of a £348m contract to build warships to support counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations.

The cutting-edge technology of the Royal Navy’s versatile new offshore patrol vessels will enable these warships to carry out a wide range of tasks, from disaster-relief missions to maritime security

It is the first warship to be fully assembled at Glasgow since Portsmouth-based Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan in 2010. The ships are being built at BAE Systems’ yards at Scotstoun and Govan.

Forth completed her 2,800m journey from the shipyard on the Clyde to BAE’s Scotstoun site.

She will now be fitted with her systems and undergo testing at Scotstoun before being handed over to the Senior Service next year.

‘The cutting-edge technology of the Royal Navy’s versatile new offshore patrol vessels will enable these warships to carry out a wide range of tasks, from disaster-relief missions to maritime security,’ said Vice Admiral Simon Lister, chief of material (fleet) for defence and equipment and support.

‘Supported by a rising defence budget, the rollout of HMS Forth reflects the success of the (offshore patrol vessel) programme, safeguarding the vital capability and skills that will be used in the delivery of the Royal Navy’s Type 26 frigates.’

A 160-wheeled flat-bed low-loader, which is operated by remote control, transported Forth from the shed where she was built on to a special barge which ferried her downstream at half-a-mile an hour.

The patrol ship, which weighs 1,600 tonnes – the equivalent of 120 London buses – was then lowered into the water, with the barge beneath it, for fitting out at BAE’s Scotstoun yard.

Forth will be ready in 2017, with her sisters ships to be HMS Medway and HMS Trent following soon after.

The vessels will have a range in excess of 5,000 nautical miles and travel at a maximum speed of 24 knots.

Iain Stevenson, managing director at BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: ‘She is the first complex warship to benefit from the new technologies and methods that we are introducing to further bolster our ability to be the best supplier to the Royal Navy.

‘Forth has already benefitted from a safer and more efficient build process that enabled much of the work to take place under cover, and as a result she leaves our Govan facility at a much higher rate of completion.’