The third of the UK Royal Navy’s new Batch 2 River-class patrol ships, HMS Trent (P224), has successfully completed her first spell at sea after two weeks in the Firth of Clyde.
HMS Trent was put through her paces between Arran, Bute and Great Cumbrae – the very same waters where her older sisters HMS Forth and Medway were tested by a mix of civilian sailors/engineers and ship’s company.
Due to be handed over to the Navy later this year for duties at home or abroad, Trent’s trials allowed her to test her main engineering systems and sensors – engines, water production, sewage and waste collection, electricity generation, radar and the like – and allows shipwrights to make tweaks and fix any problems once the ship returns to BAE’s yard at Scotstoun.
Future members of the ship’s company were invited to join Trent for the trials to get used to her systems and capabilities ready to operate and maintain it themselves once she formally joins the Fleet later this year – a big step closer thanks to the success of the maiden spell at sea.
“Being invited on board for sea trials was a really useful experience,” said Petty Officer Chris Allison, who’ll be Trent’s propulsion maintainer once the ship is handed over to the Royal Navy. “The technicians and engineers from BAE Systems and the various equipment manufacturers who conducted the trials were really welcoming and keen to share their knowledge with us. This made it a really worthwhile trip and puts us in a great position to carry on with our own training and preparations.”
Five second generation River-class ships – bigger, faster and considerably more capable than the original quartet built 15 years ago – have been ordered from BAE Systems on the Clyde.
HMS Forth is currently in Scotland being assessed by the Navy’s ultimate assessors, the Flag Officer Sea Training organisation. Its job is to ensure a ship and her men and women are in the right material and physical shape to withstand the rigours of a deployment.
Forth is earmarked to sail south to replace HMS Clyde as the Royal Navy’s permanent presence in the Falkland Islands/Britain’s South Atlantic territories (such as South Georgia). She joined up with Trent briefly for some deft combined manoeuvres in the Firth of Clyde, launching her sea boat to record the event – the first time two of the ships have been seen in company together.
“It was great to meet up with HMS Trent, the newest addition to the class as she is put through her paces on sea trials. We look forward to welcoming her to the Fleet in the very near future. The era of the second-generation River class ships – the Fighting Batch 2s – is coming,” said Commander Bob Laverty’s, Forth’s Commanding officer.
And not long after parting company, Forth was sailing in company with another new River-class vessel: HMS Medway as she prepares to make her first appearance in Portsmouth. Medway is conducting some final trials and training off the Scottish coast, gradually edging her way southwards to her future home, where all the Rivers are based.
The new Rivers are designed for duties in home waters (safeguarding UK territory, intelligence gathering and keeping an eye on fishing stocks) and overseas (Falklands, Mediterranean, Far East, Caribbean) as a reassuring presence and upholder of international laws and security.