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Castle Class Replacement -
 Offshore Patrol Craft (Helicopter)

Type Designation: Patrol Ship, PS


(Above) HMS Tyne, a River-class OPV built by VT Shipbuilding.

 


(Above) An evolution of the River class design, was proposed by VT and
 eventually selected by the MOD.   Source: VT Group

 

(Above) HMS Clyde under construction, starting from the top in  in December 2005,
and January and finally February 2006.  Source: VT Group


An updated graphic, late 2005.   Source: VT Group

 

 

(Above) Pictures of the rollout of HMSClyde on 14 June 2006.  Source: VT Group

 

(Above) The spectacular night time naming ceremony of HMS Clyde on 7 September 2006.  Source: VT Group

 

(Above) HMS Clyde on sea trials before delivery in January 2007.  Source: VT Group

 

(Above) HMS Clyde departed HMNB Portsmouth for the Falkland Islands on 20 August 2007.  Source: Navy News

 

(Below) This graphic is of the loosing OPV(H) proposal from DML Appledore.  Source: DML Group

 


 

Name No Builders Laid down Launched Commissioned
HMS Clyde P284 VT Shipbuilding,
Portsmouth
June 2005 14 June 2006 5 July 2007

 

Specification

Displacement: 1,854 tonnes full load
Length Overall:  81.5m (265 feet)
Length waterline:
 73.6m
Beam: 13.6m (
46 feet)
Draught - 3.8m (
11.5 feet)
Speed:
19 knots full load (21kts sprint)
Endurance:
21-day endurance, 
Range: 5,500 nm at 12 knots
Engineering:  Main Engines 2 X 12V RK270 Rushton Marine Diesels Rated at 4125kw at 1000 RPM;
Bow Thruster: 280 kw; Stern Thruster: 185 kw; 3 Main Generators: 250 kw; 1 Emergency Generator: 170 kw
Guns: 1 x 30mm, 4 x GMPG
Sensors: Terma Scanter 4100 air and surface surveillance radar
Complement: 36 (6 officers, 9 SR, 21 JR), accommodation for 58
Aviation: Flight Deck Arrangements sufficient size to take for a Lynx, Sea King and Merlin Helicopters

 

Notes:

On 25 February 2005 the Ministry of Defence awarded a ₤30 million contract to VT Group for a new Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV).  The new OPV, HMS Clyde, will patrol waters round the Falkland Islands and their dependencies, and is being acquired under a charter and logistic support contract.

The new ship will replace the two Castle class ships HMS Leeds Castle and HMS Dumbarton Castle which are primarily currently employed in the Falkland Island Patrol Vessel role.  Unlike the Castle class ships, which have to return to the UK every three years for major repairs, it's hoped that the more modern and reliable design of HMS Clyde means that she will be able to remain in the South Atlantic continuously from 2007 until 2012, and will save £2 million in support costs over a seven year period.  Her crew members will of course be regularly rotated!

On 20 August 2007 she departed for the South Atlantic - for at least a five year deployment.

 

Project History

In early 2004 VT Group tried to interest the MOD in the merits of an early replacement for the two Castle-class OPV's, then not scheduled for replacement until 2011/12.  By utilising modern automated equipment and commercial maintenance practices, VT guaranteed the sufficient availability with a single ship, compared to the two needed in 2005 to provide the same availability.

The MOD accepted that there might be a viable business case and an Invitation to Tender was issued to industry.  The MOD was looking for an initial five year lease arrangement (estimated value £50 million for two ships) at the end of which it will have an option to renew, buy the ships or hand them back to the builder.  Due to a lack of other prospective MOD shipbuilding orders, this became the subject of intense interest despite its low value. 

VT Shipbuilding bid an enlarged Batch 2 version of its River Class OPV design, and DML Appledore bid an enlarged version of its Irish Roisin Class OPV.  Two other UK companies expressed interest in the ITT, they may not have submitted fully compliant bids but Swan Hunter apparently submitted a proposal to build the hulls as a major sub-contractor.

An announcement on the order was expected in Autumn 2004, but politics and complex industrial considerations delayed the decision.   

On 13 December 2004 VT Group plc announced that it had commenced negotiations with the Ministry of Defence for the construction of a new 80 metre Offshore Patrol Vessel (Helicopter) for the Royal Navy following the Ministry’s assessment of competitive bids from a number of companies.  The ship would be built to VT’s account, handed over in September 2006 and chartered to the MoD for an initial period until March 2012. It will be manned and operated by the Royal Navy.  The programme is expected to be worth an initial total of around £30 million, under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, with the potential for this to increase if the charter is extended. 

In September 2005, VT Group awarded BAE Systems a contract for the supply of combat management system and air surveillance radar for the Offshore Patrol Vessel (Helicopter) OPV(H).  The equipment to be provided by BAE Systems was the combat management system CMS-1 and the Terma SCANTER 4100 air surveillance radar. CMS-1 was originally developed to outfit the Type 45 destroyer.

First steel for the new ship was cut in June 2005 with a view to her being handed over to the Royal Navy in autumn 2006 and formally entering service in spring 2007.

On 14 June 2006, VT Shipbuilding proudly announced that the first complete ship to be built in Portsmouth Naval Base for nearly 40 years had been loaded out from the VT Shipbuilding assembly hall - the first ship to be built there since the launch of the Leander Class frigate HMS Andromeda in May 1967.  Final fitting out of HMS Clyde and setting to work her machinery took take place over the next three months before she was officially named at an impressive ceremony on 7 September 2006.  Sea trials followed and she was handed over to Royal Navy on 31 January 2007 - three months later than originally scheduled.

She formally commissioned on 5 July 2007, and according to the MOD, HMS Clyde is due to be deployed to the Falklands in August 2007 when she will relieve HMS Dumbarton Castle which has been in the South Atlantic since late 2004. Dumbarton Castle and her sister, Leeds Castle, have alternated in Falkland Islands waters, but the greatly increased reliability that will be delivered by the new ship, both through design and a tailored maintenance regime, means that she will be the only ship needed in future and both 'Castles' can be disposed of.  HMS Clyde's charter period under the contract extends to February 2012, the 'Castle's' original disposal date.  A decision on what will happen after 2012 will be taken in due course.

Weighing in at 1,850 tonnes, HMS Clyde will have a core crew of 34, compared with 51 for the old Castle class ships, and be armed with a single 30mm gun. She is a Batch 2 version of the current River Class vessels, the principal changes being the addition of a search radar and a flight deck. She will carry out patrol duties around the Falklands and their dependencies, and is able accommodate a single helicopter up to Merlin size.

After the ship enters service,  VT will be responsible for providing a full Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) service to maintain the ship so that she is available for sea for 282 days a year - although this is a reduction from the original "more than 300 days" stated in 2005.  Major elements of the CLS process will include maintenance management systems, interactive technical publications, configuration control, logistics support and obsolescence management, supported by a dedicated organisation of VT personnel in the South Atlantic and the UK.

VT Group Chief Executive Paul Lester commented: “This programme will provide a significant boost to our shipbuilding throughput at Portsmouth, supplementing the work that we are carrying out on the Type 45 destroyer. It also underlines the success of the PPP model that we have introduced on the initial River Class ships.”

Armament was expected to be a minimal, probably a 30 mm gun.  However after the decision in July 2004 to reduce the RN escort (frigate/destroyer) force from 31 to 25, the merit of improving the equipment fit (communications, sensors, and perhaps armament and a basic command system) in order to allow the OPV(H) to undertake a wider variety of roles was briefly considered.

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 © 2004-13 Richard Beedall unless otherwise indicated.