River-class patrol vessel

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For other naval ship classes of the same name, see River class (disambiguation).
HMS Clyde Leaving Portsmouth MOD 45151373.jpg
HMS Clyde Leaving Portsmouth in 2007
Class overview
Name: River class
Builders: Vosper Thornycroft (now BAE Systems Surface Ships)
Operators:  Royal Navy
 Royal Thai Navy
Preceded by: Castle class
Subclasses: HTMS Krabi
Amazonas-class corvette
In commission: June 2003
Completed: 5
Active: 5
General characteristics
Type: Offshore Patrol Vessel
  • 1,700 tonnes[1]
  • 2,000 tonnes (Clyde)[2]
Length: 79.5 metres
81.5 metres (Clyde)
Beam: 13.6 metres
Draught: 3.8 metres
4.1 metres (Clyde)
Installed power: 4,125 kW (5,532 hp) at 1,000 rpm
  • 2 × Ruston 12RK 270 diesel engines
  • 20 kn (37 km/h)
  • 25 kn (46 km/h) (Clyde)
Range: 7,800 nautical miles (14,400 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h)
Boats & landing
craft carried:
  • 2 × rigid inflatable boats
Complement: 30 (accommodation for up to 50)
Aviation facilities:
  • Flight deck (Clyde)

The River class is a class of offshore patrol vessels built primarily for the United Kingdom's Royal Navy. A total of five were built: Four for the Royal Navy replacing the seven ships of the Island class and the two Castle class patrol vessels. While a fifth modified River class (HTMS Krabi) was built for the Royal Thai Navy.

In the Royal Navy, the River class are primarily used with the Fishery Protection Squadron and EEZ patrol. The fourth Royal Navy vessel (HMS Clyde (P257)) features several modifications allowing her to undertake duties in the South Atlantic and the Falkland Islands.


The ships are significantly larger than the Island-class vessels and have a large open deck aft allowing them to be fitted with equipment for a specific role, which can include fire-fighting, disaster relief and anti-pollution work. For this purpose, a 25 tonne capacity crane is fitted. In addition, the deck is strong enough for the transport of various tracked and wheeled light vehicles, or an LCVP.

HMS Clyde[edit]

A modified fourth vessel for the Royal Navy, HMS Clyde, was constructed at Portsmouth Dockyard and replaced the two vessels of the Castle class for duties in the Falkland Islands. This ship displaces 1,850 tonnes and has a 30mm gun, as well as a deck strengthened for aircraft operations.


Initially the three ships were not owned by the Royal Navy. They were constructed under an arrangement with the shipbuilder, Vosper Thornycroft (VT), under which the Royal Navy leased the vessels from the shipbuilder for a period of ten years. VT were responsible for all maintenance and support for the ships during the charter period. At the end of this, the Navy could then either return the ships, renew the lease or purchase them outright. In September 2012, it was announced by the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond that the Ministry of Defence had purchased the vessels for £39 million.[3]

Running costs[edit]

Date Running cost What is included Citation
2009-10 £5 million "The average running cost per class of River Class is £20 million... These figures, based on the expenditure incurred by the Ministry of Defence in 2009-10, include maintenance, safety certification, military upgrades, manpower, inventory, satellite communication, fuel costs and depreciation." [4]

Foreign orders[edit]

HTMS Krabi is a modified River class vessel built for the Royal Thai Navy. The ship was built in Thailand but with design, technology transfer and support provided by BAE Systems.

Three vessels of the Amazonas-class based on the River class were built by BAE in the United Kingdom. They were originally intended to be exported for use by the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, however the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago cancelled the order in September 2010. In December 2011 it was reported that the Brazilian Navy were interested in buying the vessels, and possibly up to five additional vessels of the same design.[5] The sale, for £133 million (compared to an original £150m), was then confirmed on 2 January 2012.[6]

2013 Royal Navy order[edit]

On 6 November 2013 it was announced that the Royal Navy had signed an Agreement in Principle to build three new OPVs -based on the River class design- at a fixed price of £348m including spares and support.[7] As of yet, it is unknown whether or not the new OPVs will replace Tyne, Severn and Mersey or if they will be in addition to them, a decision is likely to be made in the 2015 SDSR.[8] In August 2014, BAE Systems won the £348 million contract to build the three new OPVs. They will be built on the Clyde in Scotland. The new vessels will be used for constabulary duties such as "counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations".[9] They are expected to enter service starting 2017, with the last being delivered by the end of 2018.[7]

The new ships will incorporate a Merlin-capable flight deck, have a range of 6,300 miles, a top speed of 24 knots, be 90 meters in length and displace around 2,000 tonnes.[7][8][10][11] According to BAE Systems, the vessels are designed to deploy globally, conducting anti-piracy, counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling tasks currently conducted by frigates and destroyers.[10]

Defense Industry Daily referred to the new class of OPV as the "Ocean class".[12]

Ships in the class[edit]

HMS Severn, HMS Mersey and HMS Tyne in February 2012
Navy Name Pennant number Builder Launched Commissioned Status
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy Tyne P281 VT Shipbuilding, Southampton 27 April 2002 4 July 2003 In active service
Severn P282 VT Shipbuilding, Southampton 4 December 2002 31 July 2003 In active service
Mersey P283 VT Shipbuilding, Southampton 25 June 2003 28 November 2003 In active service
Clyde P257 VT Shipbuilding, Portsmouth 14 June 2006 30 January 2007 In active service
 Royal Thai Navy Krabi 551 Bangkok Dock 3 December 2011 26 August 2013 In active service

See also[edit]


  1. ^ BAE Systems Offshore Patrol Vessels, baesystems.com, Retried 8 June 2014
  2. ^ Royal Navy HMS Clyde, royalnavy.mod.uk, Retrieved 8 June 2014. Quote - "As part of her deterrence role she also regularly visits other British Overseas Territories in the area such as South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. At just over 2,000 tonnes displacement, she may not be the biggest ship in the Navy, but this is certainly made up for in capability."
  3. ^ "MoD buys £39m patrol ships from BAE". Press Association. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  4. ^ Hansard 24 November 2010 Written Answers.
  5. ^ "Brazil could buy the 3 BAE System's OPV that were canceled by Trinidad and Tobago". Retrieved 2011-12-14. 
  6. ^ "BAE Systems sells patrol vessels to Brazil". BBC News. 2012-01-02. 
  7. ^ a b c "Daily Hansard - Written Answers Column 561W". UK Parliament. 12 November 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "MOD plans to commission 3 new ocean-going offshore patrol vessels for the Royal Navy.". MOD. 6 November 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  9. ^ BAE Systems wins £348 million contract for new UK patrol ships, uk.reuters.com, 12 August 2014
  10. ^ a b https://navynews.co.uk/archive/news/item/11085
  11. ^ BAE, UK Government Settle Agreement on New Patrol Vessels, defensenews.com, 12 August 2014
  12. ^ UK OPVs: Bridge Over the River Class, defenseindustrydaily.com, 12 August 2014

External links[edit]