The UK Royal Navy’s first River-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV), HMS Forth, was lowered into the water for the first time.

The vessel was lowered from a barge into the River Clyde in Scotland by BAE Systems workers, with the barge remaining beneath it. HMS Forth completed a 1.75-mile journey from the company’s Govan shipyard in Glasgow to Scotstoun site.

HMS Forth will now be fitted out with complex combat systems and will undergo testing at the site prior to being delivered to the Royal Navy next year.

"Supported by a rising defence budget, the rollout of HMS Forth reflects the success of the OPV programme."

BAE Systems is under a £348m contract to build three third-generation River-class OPVs. The first steel plate for Forth was delivered at Govan in 2014, following which the ship was structurally complete.

UK Defence and Equipment and Support Chief of Material (Fleet) vice-admiral Simon Lister said: “The cutting-edge technology of the Royal Navy’s versatile new offshore patrol vessels will enable these warships to carry out a wide range of tasks, from disaster-relief missions to maritime security.

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“Supported by a rising defence budget, the rollout of HMS Forth reflects the success of the OPV programme, safeguarding the vital capability and skills that will be used in the delivery of the Royal Navy’s Type 26 frigates.”

Weighing 1,600t, HMS Forth will have a range of more than 5,000nm and can operate at a speed of 24k.

The other two OPVs, HMS Trent and HMS Medway, are currently under different stages of construction at BAE.

The new OPVs will be deployed for counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations in the waters around the UK, and other areas of UK’s interest.

Image: OPV HMS Forth on its way to BAE shipyard in Scotstoun. Photo: courtesy of John Linton/BAE Systems.