Patrol Ships

The RN has a handful of lightly-armed patrol vessels for specialist tasks.


The RN has 4 river class OPVs (Offshore Patrol Vessels), 3 of which are assigned to UK waters for fishery Protection duties. The 4th, HMS Clyde is permanently stationed in the Falkands Islands. In 2014 it was announced that 3 new OPVs are to be built by BAE Systems in Glasgow (mainly to provide work for the yard between the completion of the aircraft carriers and the start of Type 26 programme). Their design has yet to be unveiled and it is unclear whether they will be additions to the fleet or will simply replace the relatively modern River class ships on duty in UK waters.

See more detailed discussion about patrol of UK waters.

HMS Protector is the RN’s Antarctic patrol ship. She is a former commercial ship and replaced HMS Endurance, damaged beyond repair in a flooding accident off Chile in 2008. Protector is unarmed and her primary role is protecting British interests in Antarctica as well as supporting science and survey work. She is a modern and comfortable vessel well suited to ice operations. She has a flight deck but without a hangar like HMS Endurance, she cannot permanently embark helicopters which is a significant loss of capability. Operating far from support 2 helicopters are needed to provide mutual search and rescue cover. Hopefully funding will be found to reconfigure the stern of the ship so full aviation facilities can be fitted.

There are also 16 small Archer class P2000 boats which are attached to the university RN units (URNU) which provide opportunities to undergraduates who may consider a career in the navy. They also give useful first command experience to junior officers and their size allows the RN to visit small ports inaccessible to larger vessels. These boats are light and unarmed (apart from 2 vessels assigned to force protection duties at Faslane). Their numbers are sometimes used to conveniently inflate the apparent number of RN surface ships but they should not be counted as a significant part of the RNs fighting fleet.

Submarine Service
Hydrographic Survey Ships