HMS Tamar was commissioned into service during a prestigious event at Portsmouth Naval Base, attended by military top brass.
The vessel is the latest offshore patrol to join the fleet – and could be among those called into action to protect Britain’s merchant navy in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Tamar’s commissioning, witnessed by fleet commander Vice-Admiral Jeremy Kyd, came exactly a year to the day that the first of the ship’s crew mustered to transformed her into an active warship.
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Lieutenant Commander Michael Hutchinson, Tamar’s captain, praised his sailors for all their efforts during the past 12 months to ready the ship.
He said: ‘Today’s commissioning ceremony is the culmination of a huge amount of work by a crew which has worked tirelessly throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and all those who have supported us here in Portsmouth and beyond, and it is my privilege to be Tamar’s first commanding officer.
‘We’ve transformed Tamar and her ship’s company into an effective force since moving on board earlier in the year and we’re eager to take her into active operations wherever we are sent.’
The hi-tech vessel is the fourth of five batch two River-class patrol ships to have joined the fleet in recent months.
She first arrived in Portsmouth in March, after being pieced together at BAE Systems’ shipyard on the Clyde, near Glasgow, in Scotland.
The new breed of ships are expected to be forward-deployed globally, capable of spending 300 days at sea.
However, they could also be drafted in to protect UK fishing waters after Brexit is completed in the next few weeks.
The vessels would have the power to halt, inspect and impound all EU fishing boats operating within the UK’s exclusive economic zone, which can extend 200 miles from shore.
Tamar’s commissioning ceremony was attended by the ship’s sponsor Lady Brigitte Peach and her husband, Air Chief Marshall Sir Stuart Peach, chairman of Nato’s military committee and most senior officer within the alliance, having previously served as the UK’s chief of defence staff.
Addressing the ship’s company, Lady Peach said: ‘From the moment you, the ship’s company, came on board she has impressed everyone who has seen her.
‘I have been hugely impressed by the hard-working and incredibly welcoming crew. As you take your place in the fleet, I wish you well.’
Since Tamar’s crew took custody of the patrol ship, they have completed operational sea training, hosted visitors and new technology demonstrations on a trip to London and worked extensively with Royal Marines on boarding tactics.
The River-class patrol ships have a mess deck for 50 embarked Commandos or other personnel, in addition to accommodating about 50 crew on board at any time.
The final ship in class, HMS Spey, arrived in Portsmouth at the end of October and is expected to join the fleet next year.