The UK Royal Navy formally commissioned its second Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessel, HMS Medway (P223), during a ceremony at Chatham Dockyard on Sept. 19.
The Portsmouth-based OPV sailed to the docks in Kent on the River Medway – the waterway she’s named after – for the ceremony . The new warship welcomed guests and the families of the ship’s company for the service and for tours of the ship, while locals lined the banks to watch the ceremony.
Ship’s sponsor and wife of the then Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, Lady Fallon, who named the ship at Scotstoun yard on the Clyde, attended the ceremony.
Addressing the sailors, she said: “I have been following the progress of Medway since 2015 and we’ve had a number of milestones since then. Now on this beautiful day, having completed her recent sea trials, in record time, here we are at another milestone here in historic Chatham. After all the hard work over the previous years I’m so pleased that all of you are here and have the opportunity to join together and celebrate this commissioning.”
Commander Ben Power, the ship’s commanding officer, said: “It is special to be commissioning this ship here on the River Medway, an area that has an incredibly strong connection with the Royal Navy going back to the 16th Century. We have a part to play in the very bright future of the Royal Navy. Medway is a very fine ship, she’s slick, fast and agile.”
The first steel for HMS Medway was cut by BAE Systems in June 2015 in Glasgow. The ship’s company then moved on board in May 2019 and the ship first sailed in June, joining her sister ship HMS Forth in Portsmouth. The vessel then began sea trials that were completed in just 75 days which according to naval records is the shortest time since World War II.
HMS Medway and other Batch 2 River-class OPVs provide much greater capability compare to Batch 1 vessels, including a flight deck, increased top speed and longer endurance at sea.
With a total length of 90.5 metres and a flight deck which can operate the Merlin (AW101) helicopter, 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.
The 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.