£30 million warship to be built in Portsmouth

The VT Group has been awarded a contract by the UK Ministry of Defence to build a new warship.

The MoD says that the £30 million contract for the new Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) will create 100 new jobs and sustain around 400 posts at VT’s shipbuilding facility.

Scheduled to enter service in 2007, the OPV, which will patrol waters round the Falkland Islands, will be the first warship to be launched at Portsmouth since the frigate HMS Andromeda in 1967.

The ship will replace the two Castle Class ships currently employed in the FalklandIsland role, HMS Dumbarton Castle and HMS Leeds Castle.

Unlike the Castle Class ships, which have to return to the UK every three years for major repairs, the new OPV will be able to remain in the South Atlantic until 2012 and will save the UK taxpayer £2 million in support costs over a seven year period.

Weighing in at 1,850 tonnes, the new OPV will have a crew of 34 (compared with 51 for the old Castle class ships) and be armed with a single 30mm gun and is able to accommodate a single helicopter up to Merlin size.