Royal Navy's new patrol ship is '˜fit' to defend the Falklands, Admiral says
A NEW breed of warship '“ capable of transporting special forces troops across the globe to battle terrorists '“ has arrived in Portsmouth.
HMS Forth, the first of the Royal Navy’s next-generation offshore patrol ship, arrived in her home city today.
She is one of five state-of-the-art ships designed to tackle pirates, smugglers, terrorists and criminals at the sea.
Working as the eyes and ears of the navy, Forth and her sister ships HMS Trent, Medway, Tamar and Spey will help to safeguard fishing stock in British waters.
Forth will also be the frontline of the defence for the Falkland Islands, taking over from ageing patrol ship HMS Clyde.
Commander Bob Laverty, Forth’s first captain, said her first deployment could be as early as autumn of this year.
He said: ‘This ship is a real step-change.
‘It’s 10 metres longer than HMS Clyde, it’s got a flight deck, a bigger gun; I’ve got a 50-man mess deck below which can take a variety of people, be it Royal Marines, special forces, army wherever we need to help us with boarding operations or to insert them on shore.’
Speaking of the new class of ship, he added: ‘This says the Royal Navy is a serious organisation and we’re out there to protect our nation’s interests at home and abroad.’
Designed for a total crew of 58, but requiring only 34 to go to sea, Forth can spend up to 320 days a year on operations.
She is armed with a 30mm automatic cannon instead of a 20mm one, two miniguns, four machine guns and two Pacific 24 sea boats.
As well as packing more of a punch, the new OPVs are four knots faster than their predecessors at 24 knots and have an increased range of 5,500 nautical miles.
Rear Admiral Chris Gardner is the man responsible for procuring the navy’s new ships. He said Forth is fit to defend the Falklands.
‘The ships we use to conduct these operations are absolutely fit for purpose,’ he said. ‘A Falkland Islands patrol vessel is exactly what it says on the tin.
‘It is there to conduct patrol tasks in the south Atlantic and around the Falkland Islands.
‘We could bolster that capability with higher-end warships should they be required but at the moment HMS Clyde – and in due course HMS Forth – is more than capable of undertaking the task that is required.’
Commander Sarah Oakley, is in charge of the navy’s fishery protection squadron in Portsmouth. She said: ‘It’s great to have her in Portsmouth at last.
‘It’s the start of a really exciting journey.’