The last of five new offshore patrol vessels has formally joined the Royal Navy’s Overseas Patrol Squadron – formerly the Fishery Protection Squadron – following a short ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard on 7 January, reports John Periam.
HMS Spey’s first commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Ben Evans, said: “It is such a privilege to lead Spey’s complement through the coming trials and training programme so we can bring her into operational status.
“In spite of considerable disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Royal Navy has received its fifth and final offshore vessel, and our job is now to prepare ourselves and Spey for whatever operations we are assigned.”
No guests were invited to the ceremony to change HMS Spey’s Blue Ensign to white, and only essential personnel were onboard. She is expected to leave Portsmouth next month to complete a series of safety and readiness checks and sea training before she is formally commissioned into the fleet to join her sisters HMS Tamar and Trent, which were commissioned in 2020.
Both Trent and Tamar are currently operational in UK waters, Trent having returned from her second deployment to the Mediterranean. The first two Batch 2 River-class vessels, Medway and Forth, are on patrol tasks in the North and South Atlantic respectively.
The five new vessels will work alongside the three Batch 1 vessels HMS Mersey, Severn and Tyne. Once the current lockdown situation is resolved, Fishing News has been invited to go to sea with the squadron to see the new vessels working in a full operational role in the English Channel.