The UK Royal Navy’s Portsmouth-based Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessel HMS Forth has made its first visit to Gibraltar.

HMS Forth is the first of five next-generation offshore patrol ships for the Royal Navy. Other vessels include Medway, Trent, Spey and Tamar.

The stop in Gibraltar also served as an opportunity to test a crew changeover overseas for the first time.

This is the 2,000t warship’s operational debut in the Mediterranean.

Forth was commissioned in April last year and began operations in June this year after completing operational sea training off western Scotland.

The ship has already conducted its inaugural fishery protection patrol. It also shadowed a Russian patrol vessel in June through the Channel.

HMS Forth executive officer lieutenant Samuel Fields said: “HMS Forth’s inaugural visit to Gibraltar has been a delight and the welcome we have received from everyone on The Rock has been incredible.

“To sail HMS Forth out of HMNB Gibraltar is a huge honour and we look forward to returning in the near future.”

Forth will head to the Falklands later this year to offer reassurance and protection. The vessel will replace HMS Clyde as the permanent naval guardian of the islands.

The patrol ship joined survey ship HMS Echo, which was ‘taking a break from gathering vital data about the waters of the Middle Sea’.

For now, Forth will continue its training, patrols and preparations ahead of its planned deployment to the South Atlantic.

The Navy intends to use Forth’s sister ships to maintain a presence in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the Far East.