#navalvisitors - A UK Royal Navy vessel deployed to patrol the Strait of Dover, due to the rise in recent months of migrants trafficked on boats from France, is currently visiting Dublin Port, writes Jehan Ashmore.
On Tuesday, HMS Mersey arrived to berth next to the Tom Clarke (East-Link) toll-lift bridge. The call to the capital of the Batch 1 River Class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) is for crew rest and recreation. The newest of the orginal River class OPV's will not be open to public tours.
HMS Mersey had sailed from Portsmouth, where it is stationed in the RN's main base, however last month the UK Home Office requested the Ministry of Defence to use the vessel to assist the UK Border Force. The OPV is only one of two available to the Royal Navy, the other, HMS Tyne also sailed from Portsmouth last month to conduct routine fishery protection and patrols within UK waters.
During the media coverage of migrants, Afloat noted a UK Border Force patrol cutter featured in footage when docked in both Folkstone and at the Port of Ramsgate. The east Kent port, is very much the focus of the current ferry farce surrounding the British Government contract to award Seaborne Freight £13.8m to run a service to Belgium in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Brexit Contingency Funds role for OPV's
As part of the UK Government's Brexit contingency funds, according to Ships Monthly, £12.7m will enable the RN to increase its border security capability. This will see an increase in patrols from 200 to 600 days annually.
The funding follows the Defence Secretary decision to retain three Batch 1 OPV's. Prior to the announcement sisters of HMS Mersey, the Severn and Tyne had already been decommissioned, however they will be reactivated for a period of at least two years.
In addition arising from the Brexit contingency funding is notably the relocation of the River class from Portsmouth to each of the sisters namesake rivers. HMS Mersey is to be based in Liverpool, the Severn heads to Cardiff while the Tyne goes to Newcastle.
Another River class sister, HMS Clyde patrols waters off the Falkland Islands and operates in the South Atlantic Ocean. There are rumours this sister is to began a new career with the Brazilian Navy.