The Royal Navy has added three ‘new’ warships to the Fleet following the £39 million purchase of the Offshore Patrol Vessels, Tyne, Severn and Mersey. The River class trio, which are the backbone of the Fishery Protection Squadron, have up until now been operated on a rolling five-year lease from the ships’ original owners, Vosper Thornycroft (now BAE Systems).

The £7 million a year contract was due to be renewed in 2013 but it was decided that buying the ships outright now would save money in the long term. The deal is expected to keep them in service with the Royal Navy for another ten years.

The Portsmouth-based OPVs are among the navy’s most heavily-worked vessels, each spending around 300 days per year on patrol. Responsible for policing 80,000 square miles of territorial waters, they mainly carry out fishery protection duties but can also be called upon for maritime security, counter-terrorism and search and rescue operations. HMS Clyde’s current lease runs until 2018.

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