BAE Systems has started construction on the first of three new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the UK Royal Navy at its Govan facility in Glasgow, Scotland.
The new 90m-long patrol vessels, which are being built under a £348m contract, will be constructed using BAE’s latest operating system called Shared Infrastructure.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "This multi-million pound contract will benefit the dedicated workers of the Clyde, their families and the local economy in Glasgow.
"This investment by the UK Government is vital for the sustainment of naval shipbuilding in this country and the hundreds of specialist manufacturing and engineering roles that play an important role in providing war-fighting capability for the Royal Navy."
Set to be delivered in 2017, the first of the new OPVs will be christened as HMS Forth, with the second and third to be named HMS Medway and HMS Trent, respectively.
The vessels will have a maximum speed of 24k and 5,000nm range, making them capable of being deployed for ocean patrol.
They will feature an upgraded flight deck that operates the latest Merlin helicopters, in addition to increased storage and accommodation facilities.
BAE Systems Naval Ships offshore patrol vessel programme head Iain Stevenson said: "We’ve kept many of the engineering qualities that have made the River-class OPVs so successful and reliable, and enhanced them with a design that is larger, more efficient and more capable.
"This new design is tried and tested and already in service with the Brazilian Navy and the Royal Thai Navy, who are operating similar versions of these ships.
"For the Royal Navy, our engineering teams have modified this proven design, ensuring it meets the demanding UK requirements, demonstrating just how flexible the design of the ship is."
Image: An artistic impression of three new OPVs for the UK Royal Navy. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.