The fifth and final of Britain’s next generation patrol ships – affiliated with Moray – has successfully completed its first spell at sea.
HMS Spey is undergoing fine-tuning and final tweaks following an intense 10-day workout around the Firth of Clyde and waters of western Scotland before preparing for a long-term mission thousands of miles from the UK.
The 2,000-tonne patrol ship is at the vanguard of the Royal Navy’s ongoing programme of stationing warships around the world in areas key to Britain’s interests.
HMS Forth and Medway are already deployed to the Falklands and Caribbean, with the patrol areas of Trent, Tamar and Spey herself yet to be announced.
For now, the ship’s company and shipwrights and technicians from BAE Systems are making the final preparations for Spey’s 700-mile journey from the Clyde to the Solent at the end of October.
As with her maiden voyage, the delivery trip will see the ship crewed jointly by Royal Navy personnel and merchant crew.
Spey will enter Portsmouth under the Blue Ensign which is denoting a vessel in government service, rather than one in the Fleet.
Her trials focused largely on the basics of seafaring, testing machinery, propulsion, steering, sensors, winches and cranes, and communications.
The ship’s guns, led by her main 30mm armament – fired remotely from the operations room – were flashed up off the island of Ailsa Craig against a giant red ‘killer tomato’ inflatable target.
Spey also encountered one of her first-generation River-class sisters, HMS Mersey – although she had to slow down from her regular 24kts speed to allow the 17-year-old fishery protection vessel to keep pace with her.
Blessed with perfect weather conditions, all trial serials were completed on time and met the high standards demanded of them.
Spey’s first Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Ben Evans was “thankful” for everyone’s efforts in ensuring work was completed despite delays caused by the ongoing pandemic.
Once in Portsmouth there will be further trials and training before the ship is formally transferred to the Royal Navy and commissioned.
The ship is set to be ready for front line operations by early summer in 2021.