The UK Royal Navy Batch II River-class offshore patrol vessel HMS Medway (P223) has departed HMNB Portsmouth on Jan. 20 for Caribbean deployment.
HMS Medway is being forward-deployed to Atlantic Patrol Tasking (North), a mission that focuses on providing reassurance to Commonwealth and British Overseas Territories (BOTs) in the Caribbean, disrupting the flow of smuggled narcotics and supporting humanitarian relief efforts.
HMS Medway is the second of the new River-class vessels to depart for this type of patrol task; her sister ship HMS Forth arrived in the Falkland Islands earlier this month to take up station there.
HMS Medway’s Commanding Officer, Commander Ben Power, said: “It has taken an extraordinary effort to get Medway ready to deploy. Since leaving Scotstoun in June last year we have conducted the fastest generation of a surface ship in recent memory – this has only been possible due to the commitment, loyalty, grit and hard work of my superb ship’s company. I am indebted to them and their families.”
By forward-deploying the newest patrol ships this way, the Royal Navy will be able to retain its more complex and capable vessels, such as frigates and destroyers, for high-end tasks such as escort duties for capital ships and anti-submarine operations.
HMS Medway is relieving RFA Mounts Bay (L3008), a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship designed for amphibious landing operations which has been on patrol in the Caribbean for nearly three years.
While the OPVs will remain on task, members of the ship’s company will spend 10 weeks on the ship and then four weeks off in rotation. Because the ship’s company is greater than the crew required to take her to sea, personnel can take leave, complete promotion courses and undertake training while ensuring the ship remains on station.
The second batch of River-class OPVs being built for the Royal Navy is faster and bigger, providing enough space for a flight deck and accommodation for 50 additional personnel.
With a total length of 90.5 meters, Batch 2 vessels are armed with a 30mm automatic cannon, two miniguns, four machine guns and are capable of a speed of around 24+ knots. Their flight deck is large enough to support the Fleet Air Arm’s Wildcat (AW159) and Merlin (AW101) helicopters.
These vessels are designed to carry out maritime security roles in home waters or globally including; anti-smuggling, fishery protection, border patrols, counter-terrorism and counter-piracy.
All five Batch 2 OPV’s are to be delivered to the Royal Navy by 2021.