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Work on three new patrol ships to begin in October
12 August 2014

Whitehall today signed a £348m deal with shipbuilding BAE to provide the Fleet with three new patrol ships.

Work on the first of the trio, which will be similar to vessels built for the Brazilian Navy, will begin on the Clyde in October, with it in RN hands in 2017.

THIS is the future shape of the busiest Royal Navy warships in UK waters.

Whitehall today signed a contract with BAE Systems to build three new patrol vessels for duties around the mother island – and beyond – from 2017.

Just shy of £350m is being spent with the defence firm, which will construct the trio in its yards on the Clyde.

The new vessels will be based on the Amazonas class of patrol ships BAE built for the Brazilian Navy in its Portsmouth yard – and which were on security duties during this summer’s World Cup.

All three will be bigger than the existing River class ships, which are on duty around the UK for more than 300 days a year, largely focusing on fishery protection work, but also acting as the RN’s eyes and ears in home waters to stop smuggling and terrorism and to help out in emergencies.

The RN’s three River-class patrol ships – Severn, Tyne and Mersey – meet up for their annual squadron exercise off Portsmouth. Picture: LA(Phot) Maxine Davies

The ships in the as-yet-unnamed class will be 90 metres (295ft) long, reach at least 24kts, be able to host a Merlin helicopter and have a range of more than 6,300 miles – enough to take them from Portsmouth to South Africa or ‘Pirate Alley’ between Somalia and Yemen; the vessels are being designed to patrol the broader oceans as much as waters around the UK.

Work on the first ship will begin in October and it is due to be handed over to the RN in three years’ time. BAE has already begun work acquiring engines and gearboxes.

The £348m deal will sustain around 800 jobs in the shipbuilding industry and tide the BAE yards over between work ending on new carrier HMS Prince of Wales and construction beginning on the first Type 26 frigates later this decade.

The next defence review will determine whether the three new ships will be replacements for the three River-class vessels (which have been in service since 2003) or will be in addition to them.