The Forth Is with Us - The First of Five New Patrol Ships is Named on the Clyde
(Source: Royal Navy; issued March 09, 2017)
HMS Forth, the first of the five new River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) for the Royal Navy, was officially christened on March 8 by breaking a bottle of whisky distilled near Stirling, the city affiliated with HMS Forth, against the ship’s hull. (BAE photo)
The first of five new patrol ships for the RN, HMS Forth, was today officially named - the modern equivalent to a traditional slipway launch - on a fine late winter's morning on the Clyde.

Forth is the first of the second-generation River-class ships to emerge from BAE's Glasgow yards, bigger, faster, more capable than their predecessors built 15 years ago.

If you’re going to smash a 12-year-old bottle of malt whisky without drinking a drop, christening a new warship is as good a way to do it as any.

In keeping with Clyde tradition, the ship's name, heritage and her future affiliations, patrol ship HMS Forth was today formally named - the first of five second-generation River-class ships to be built for the Royal Navy.

After 16 months' work at BAE's Govan and then Scotstoun yards by around 800 men and women - not to mention the input of 130 firms across the UK in the supply chain - the moment had come for the new ship's sponsor, Rachel Johnstone-Burt, to utter the immortal words "I name this ship…" then send the bottle of Deanston malt crashing into the bow of the 90-metre ship - much to the delight of the crowd, including youngsters from TS Forth in Grangemouth - the new vessel's linked Sea Cadet unit.

Also watching proceedings was the nation's ranking sailor, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones. "With the naming of HMS Forth, the Royal Navy looks forward to another impending arrival in our future Fleet," he said.

"In a few short years, these five Offshore Patrol Vessels will be busy protecting the security of UK waters and those of our overseas territories."

Sea trials are lined up later this year before being officially handed over to the RN ready for front-line duties next year, followed by Medway and Trent in 2019 with Tamar and Spey completing the quintet - all based in Portsmouth - by 2021.

As with the four first-generation Rivers - which have proved to be far more versatile and useful than originally envisaged 15 years ago - the second batch will be expected to perform a wide range of duties at home and abroad: fishery protection, maritime security, counter-narcotics/people trafficking/terrorism and generally acting as the eyes and ears of the RN around the UK on a daily basis.

Instead of a crew of around 45, Forth and her sisters will go to sea with 58 souls aboard (although they can operate with just 36 crew…and have space for 70). All five ships have a flight deck (only Clyde on the first generation does), each capable of accommodating a Wildcat or Merlin.

The new ships are ten metres longer, four knots faster - top speed around 24kts - with the same range of 5,500 miles.

The city of Stirling adopted Forth's predecessor, a wartime submarine depot ship - an affiliation which will now be resurrected

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First River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel Named in Glasgow
(Source: BAE Systems; issued March 09, 2017)
HMS Forth, the first of the five new River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), was officially named today during a ceremony at BAE Systems’ site at Scotstoun in Glasgow in this important year for the Royal Navy.

Guests watched as Mrs Johnstone-Burt, HMS FORTH’s sponsor and wife of Vice Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, the Master of the Household to the Sovereign and former Chief of Staff to NATO's Supreme Allied Command Transformation, named the 1,800 tonne, 90-metre-long vessel. In keeping with tradition, Mrs Johnstone-Burt smashed a bottle of locally-distilled whisky from the Deanston Distillery near Stirling, the city affiliated with HMS Forth, against the ship’s hull.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin, said: “As part of a sustained programme delivering world-class ships and submarines, HMS Forth’s naming is a vitally important part of the Government’s ten-year £178 billion plan to provide our Armed Forces with the equipment they need. From counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean, to securing the UK’s borders on patrols closer to home, the Royal Navy’s new Offshore Patrol Vessels will help protect our interests around the world.”

Iain Stevenson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Naval Ships, added: “Today’s naming ceremony is an immensely proud occasion for each and every person involved in the design and manufacture of HMS FORTH for the Royal Navy. It’s easy to forget that the she started life as a flat plate of steel in the winter of 2014, yet just over two years later she is afloat at Scotstoun, with the latest technologies and combat management systems, ready to depart for sea trials later this year.”

HMS FORTH will embark shortly for sea trials where she will be put through her paces in the open waters off the coasts of Scotland. With a crew of 58 HMS FORTH is expected to enter service with the Royal Navy in 2018.

--The bottle of whisky was provided by Deanston Distillery near Doune, selected due to its close proximity to Stirling – the city that HMS FORTH is affiliated with. A bottle of its award-winning 12-Year Old fine single [malt] was smashed off the ship’s hull by HMS FORTH’s Lady Sponsor, Mrs Rachel Johnstone-Burt.

The 90 metre OPV is based on a proven BAE Systems design, which is already in service with the Brazilian Navy and Royal Thai Navy. Engineers at BAE Systems have modified the design to meet the requirements of the Royal Navy in support of UK interests both at home and abroad.

The OPVs will be globally deployable and capable of ocean patrol with a range of in excess of 5,000 nautical miles and a maximum speed of 24 knots. The vessels will include a modified flight deck capable of operating the latest Merlin helicopters, larger stores and more accommodation for embarked troops.

They will also be the first ships to be built with a BAE Systems’ designed operating system called ‘Shared Infrastructure’. The Shared Infrastructure hardware solution provides a smart, easily-updatable warship operating system loaded onto a single console.

The production timescales for the OPVs are as follows:
-- August 2014 - manufacturing contract for the first three ships announced
-- October 2014 - construction commenced on the first of class, FORTH
-- June 2015 - construction commenced on the second of class, MEDWAY
-- October 2015 - construction commenced on the third of class, TRENT
-- November 2015 - UK Government announced its intention to buy a further two OPVs to be built in Glasgow
-- December 2016 – construction commenced on the fourth of class, TAMAR
-- FORTH scheduled to enter service with the Royal Navy in 2018

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