The UK Royal Navy River-class offshore patrol vessel, HMS Severn (P282) has returned to operational status after her crew completed the three-week Operational Sea Training (OST) assessment.
While colleagues across the Armed Forces have been helping the nation’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, sailors in HMS Severn have successfully brought the offshore patrol vessel to readiness after she left the active fleet in October 2017.
She joins sister ships HMS Mersey and Tyne with the capabilities and training to escort passing foreign warships, mount fishing vessel inspections and defend the UK border. HMS Severn will also have an important role to play training Royal Navy navigators, who will join the ship for testing pilotage off the west coast of Scotland and English Channel.
Commanding Officer, Commander Philip Harper, said: “We have regenerated Severn and successfully completed three weeks of basic operational sea training. This is the first time in living memory that the Royal Navy has re-commissioned a ship, and it’s been a challenge. We’ve achieved all of this during a global pandemic.
Offshore patrol vessels operating in the UK use a system of crew rotation which means they spend four weeks on the ship, then two on shore, with about a third making the switch at any time. With the “off watch” in isolation at home while the rest of the crew are at sea it has meant a succession of seamless transitions for the crew during the Covid-19 outbreak – vital for a class of ship which aims to achieve 320 days at sea per year.
It is a return to operations for HMS Severn for the first time since late 2017 when she was decommissioned. However, she was later deemed too important to UK defence to be disposed of; the Secretary of State in November 2018 announced that she would return to the Fleet.
Since a return to sea on April 1 she has already added nearly 5,000 miles to the log with 10% of her crew coming from the Royal Naval Reserve; common practice among offshore patrol vessels to give reservists a fixed-term spell serving full-time within UK waters.