Royal Navy’s offshore patrol vessel (OPV) HMS Medway has set sail from Portsmouth for the Caribbean as its crew started their first operational mission, Atlantic Patrol Tasking (North), in the region.

The vessel will relieve RFA Mounts Bay, which has been designed for amphibious landing operations and was on patrol for nearly three years in the region.

The Atlantic Patrol Tasking (North) mission focuses on offering reassurance to Commonwealth and British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean and will participate in anti-drug smuggling operations and humanitarian relief efforts.

HMS Medway is the second of the new River-class vessels to depart to carry out this type of patrol task.

In June last year, HMS Forth, its sister ship, completed a three-week operational sea training period in western Scotland.

HMS Medway Commanding Officer Ben Power said: “It has taken an extraordinary effort to get Medway ready to deploy.

“Since leaving Scotstoun in June last year, we have conducted the fastest generation of a surface ship in recent memory, this has only been possible due to the commitment, loyalty, grit and hard work of my superb ship’s company. I am indebted to them and their families.”

The deployment is part of the Royal Navy’s new ‘forward presence’ initiative. The navy will be able to retain its complex and capable vessels for high-end tasks, such as escort duties for capital ships and to carry out anti-submarine operations.

Last March, BAE Systems handed over HMS Medway to the British Royal Navy.

HMS Medway provides greater capability, including a flight deck, increased top speed and longer endurance at sea.