HMS Clyde, a Short but Remarkable Career

HMS Clyde (P257) has been decommissioned and is expected to be sold to the Brazilian Navy. By Coast Guard standards, she is almost new, not yet 13 years old. She is being replaced by a new ship of the more capable River Batch II class that evolved from HMS Clyde and three earlier River class Offshore Patrol Vessel.

As an OPV, Clyde’s design is largely unremarkable (specifications below), but her twelve year deployment on distant station, with reportedly only a single yard period, in spite of having a crew of only 40 on a ship slightly larger than a 270 foot WMEC, is quite unusual.

HMS Clyde was commissioned in 30 Jan. 2007 and decommissioned 20 Dec. 2019. In Brazil where she will join three newer, but similar type ships, also built in Britain.


  • Displacement: 2000 tons
  • Length: 81.5 m (267 ft 5 in)
  • Beam: 13.5 m (44 ft 3 in)
  • Propulsion: twin diesel, 11,280 HP total
  • Speed: 21 knots
  • Endurance: 21 days
  • Range: 5,500 nmi (10,200 km)
  • Flight Deck for helicopters up to and including Merlin
  • Armament: 30mm auto cannon, 2 miniguns

20 thoughts on “HMS Clyde, a Short but Remarkable Career

      • Brazil was the most logical solution, considering the 3 Amazonas OPVs (built on the same River class design) already in service in the Brazilian Navy.
        At this point (excluding Argentina …!), there may be several countries interested in this OPV.
        Clyde is relatively new, it is a valid platform and also has reasonable margins for growth: in the way that it can be used either in Coast Guard or Navy tasks/duties.

  1. It is a shame that the rest of Rivers weren’t built with a flightdeck like Clyde.

    Clyde is the only River I haven’t visited.

    Good ships, but an uninspiring design when compared to similar classes of OPV.

      • It’s Cutter X. At least the version with the aviation deck is what I think of as Cutter X. Emphasis on simple, reliable and cost effective.

      • They were built to replace the Islands (1000t) and Castles (1300t). Why did the RN acquire the Castles? Because the Islands had no aviation facilities in an era when the helicopter had become nearly as important as ships and boats in the offshore zones. I note the Famous class MEC has both a flight deck and a hangar. Not sure if they carry a helicopter all the time though I don’t think having helicopter permanently embarked is a necessity for us in the UK, So why would buy a class of 1800t plus vessels and then not equip them with a flight deck? I don’t join in the silliness I see on some defence blogs / forums where demands our made that our OPV’s are armed to the teeth. But a proper medium gun would have been ‘useful’. I see the Famous class have a 76mm; heck even German police ships carry a proper gun. Compare the design of the Rivers with say the Fassmer 80OPV with its aviation facilities and stern launching ramp; some of them have even been ice strengthened I believe.

    • Is this one still owned by BAE? I know the first three were originally leased, but were later purchased outright. Otherwise it would seem strange for the three older ships to be retained while they sell the newest of the four and the only one with a helicopter deck.

  2. I’m surprised it was leased also. But more surprised that Brazil would turn it down, considering similar vessels in their fleet.

    Chile, Argentina, Trinidad, Jamaica, and Ukraine could all use it.

  3. The Island class ships were designed for the Scottish Fisheries Protection agency and were basically North Sea trawlers rather than as naval vessels. The Royal Naval received tasking in fisheries protection and picked the Island class . Nice little ships with a lot of automation for the time (2 person bridge watch plus a rover), but slow and so-so sea-keeping . The original intent was to use them only in a fisheries role, relatively close to shore. No flight deck was included (and not seen as necessary in their fisheries mission). The planned replacement by the Castle class ships corrected some of this, but was curtailed by the Falklands war. Only 2 Castles were built (with a flight deck) rather than the planned 7 with a primary mission for 1 (in rotation) in the Falklands.

    The River class corrected some of this, but still were viewed as primarily “in shore” ships with more of a need for pollution control equipment than for aircraft.

    I spent a week underway on HMS Jersey in the early 80s. Nice ship, but would not have been able to handle an ALPAT (especially weather/ heavy seas) as well as a 210. FishPat was basically all small fishing vessels so the need for the large boarding parties of ALPAT were not needed.

    • The Royal Naval received tasking in fisheries protection?

      The Fisheries Protection Squadron is the oldest standing commitment the RN has with its roots go backing to the late 15th century.

      Never said there was any consideration given to purchasing a design with aviation facilities. Just that during the 70s the helicopter rapidly rose to prominence in the maritime environment.

      The Rivers were design as inshore vessels really? 1850t OPV paddling in sight of land. No space for environmental protection equipment and a flight deck in a ship that size?

  4. I also find it interesting that RN never purchased the Clyde as they did with her smaller sister ships, but it makes sense. In reading up on the 5 new Batch II ships it seems they have incorporated multiple survivability and strengthening modifications over the initial Batch. Which goes in hand with what seems an intention of deploying them as overseas guard ships. The purchase and continuing operations of the first 3 smaller Batch I ships seem to be to have them continue patrolling local British Isles waters. In that regard, it makes sense that a Batch II ship is deployed to the South Atlantic to replace the Clyde, while the others are remaining in service. Beyond the eventual destination for the Clyde, I’m interested to see if any more of the Batch II ships deployed on a semi-permanent basis. For example deploying a couple of the ships to the Caribbean would free up RN assets for the Asian reengagement. It would be the first example of a more expansionist British policy, which could help US balance Chinese policy by strengthening the Five Power Agreement.

  5. Pingback: Brits To Keep Two OPVs In the Indo-Pacific | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

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  7. maybe i’m wrong but these opv’s, and others like it remind me of the gunboats of the old days. barely armed and more about presence. i realize that things like fisheries don’t require heavy armament. some of these vessels could be involved in unexpected more serious warfare and suddenly be repurposed to unintended roles. when things start exploding it’s a little late to get to a shipyard and add weapons and sensors in spaces that may or may not have been set aside for the purpose. yes i know weapons and sensors cost money both at the start and down the road.

    • @bigsbigs1, That is a point well taken, In the run up to WWI. Britain famously decommissioned a large fleet of gunboats because they were not seen as useful for the coming war with Germany. In that case Britain basically turned over its interest in the Pacific to the care of their ally Japan. They also had a large number of old cruisers that were recommissioned as more appropriate for the coming war. As it turned out some of the gunboat made pretty good ASW vessels and that was the real need. Others proved useful in littoral operations.

      At the start of the Second World War a number of gunboats, both British and American in China and SE Asia were simply overwhelmed by the Japanese, but really the same could be said for all of the US forces in the area.

      The US Coast Guard cutters faired much better, in that they were not subjected to the initial Japanese steam roller. They had some time to be upgraded and probably actually benefitted from the fact that they had not been equipped for a role that never materialized like the 327s half sister ships of the Erie class,

      Adding on warfighting equipment has gotten much more complex so it is probably much more important now to have a plan on the shelf as to how we will make these assets useful in a major conflict.

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