The UK government has awarded a £348 million contract for the previously announced trio of Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Navy. The timing is curious, coming only weeks before Scotland’s independence vote. As UK policy does not allow warships to be built in ‘foreign’ countries, some may see the motive as a gentle reminder of the benefits of remaining in the union, with upcoming construction work on the Type 26 frigates by no means guaranteed to take place in Glasgow.
As reported earlier, the ships will be built to a modified BAES design, similar to the 90m Ocean Patrol Vessels in service with Brazil and Thailand. The RN has specified a revised flight deck, which can operate Merlin helicopters, and additional storage space for embarking role-specific equipment and increased accommodation.
Although the new craft will be larger and more efficient than the existing River Class OPVs, and capable of overseas deployment, it remains unclear whether they will join the fleet as direct replacements or be deployed to provide greater maritime security presence for British overseas interests.