BAE Systems has officially commenced the construction work on the British Royal Navy’s fifth new offshore patrol vessel (OPV) HMS Spey, which is being built at the company's Govan shipyard on the Clyde in Scotland.
The beginning of construction was marked by the cut of the first sheet of steel for the ship, which was carried out by UK’s Defence procurement organisation Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) chief executive officer Tony Douglas.
HMS Spey will be constructed at Govan before it is transferred to the Scotstoun yard, where it will be fitted out for operations.
The other OPVs in the fleet such as HMS Forth, HMS Medway, HMS Trent and HMS Tamar are all currently under construction or preparing for sea trials.
The planned construction work on HMS Spey and the rest of the OPVs in the Royal Navy fleet is sustaining 800 jobs and will help develop the major skills required to develop the navy’s fleet of latest and advanced Type 26 frigates, which are slated to commence construction at Govan this summer.
UK Defence Procurement Minister Harriett Baldwin said: “The start of work on HMS Spey, the fifth OPV, is another milestone in a significant programme of work which is sustaining hundreds of jobs in Scotland and the vital shipbuilding skills needed to build the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 frigates.
“The ongoing successful delivery of these ships is a key element of the government’s ten-year, £178bn equipment plan to provide the UK’s armed forces with the kit they deserve.”
HMS Spey will be 90m-long and feature a displacement capability of approximately 2,000t. It is expected to carry a 30mm cannon and a flight deck, which is capable of receiving a Merlin helicopter to support counter-terrorism, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling and maritime defence operations.
The Royal Navy OPV is one of two vessels currently being constructed under a £287m agreement signed between the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and BAE Systems in December.
HMS Spey is slated for delivery to the Royal Navy in 2019 and will enter service by 2021.
Image: Commodore Peter Coulson talking to workers at Govan shipyard, where the first sheet of steel was cut for HMS Spey. Photo: courtesy of Crown Copyright.