HMS Medway (P223)

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HMS Medway sea trials.jpg
HMS Medway on sea trials in 2018
United Kingdom
NameHMS Medway
OrderedAugust 2014
BuilderBAE Systems Naval Ships
Laid down8 June 2015 (Steel cut)[1]
Launched23 August 2017
Sponsored byWendy Fallon
Christened20 October 2017
Commissioned19 September 2019
HomeportHMNB Portsmouth
StatusForward Deployed to the Caribbean
General characteristics
Class and typeBatch 2 River-class patrol vessel
Displacement2,000 tonnes
Length90.5 m (296 ft 11 in)[2]
Beam13 m (42 ft 8 in)
Draught3.8 m (12 ft 6 in)
Speed25 kn (46 km/h)
Range5,500 nmi (10,200 km)
Endurance35 days
Boats & landing
craft carried
2 × Rigid-hulled inflatable boats
Aviation facilitiesMerlin-capable flight deck

HMS Medway is a Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessel for the Royal Navy. Named after the River Medway in Kent, she was the second Batch 2 River-class vessel to be commissioned and is assigned long-term as Royal Navy guardship in the Caribbean.


On 6 November 2013, it was announced that the Royal Navy had signed an agreement in principle to build three new offshore patrol vessels based on the River-class design (more specifically, the larger Amazonas-class corvette derivative) at a fixed price of £348 million, including spares and support. In August 2014, BAE Systems signed a contract to build the ships on the River Clyde in Scotland. The ships, which were designated Batch 2 of the River-class, were to be globally-deployable and capable of carrying out constabulary tasks, such as counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling. As the first ship of the new batch, Medway included some 29 modifications and enhancements over the baseline Amazonas design.[3]

HMS Medway before her sea trials.

Steel was cut, marking the start of construction of Medway, on 8 June 2015 at BAE Systems Govan shipyard in Glasgow. Rather than being launched in the traditional manner, Medway was rolled onto a semi-submersible barge and lowered into the water on 23 August 2017 and was officially named a few weeks later on 20 October 2017.[4] Builder's sea trials began on 9 November 2018 and were completed by 11 December 2018.[5] Her sea trials were completed in only 75 days, a record not seen since World War II.[6] She was then transferred to the Royal Navy on 5 March 2019.

Operational history

Medway was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 19 September 2019. Arriving via her namesake river, her commissioning ceremony took place at the former Royal Navy Chatham Dockyard in Kent with her sponsor, Lady Fallon, the wife of former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon in attendance.[6] In the following month, her first operational tasking saw her escorting a Russian Navy cruiser through the English Channel.[7]


In January 2020, Medway embarked on her first overseas deployment, assigned to Atlantic Patrol Task (North) on long-term guardship duties in the Caribbean.[8] She made a stop for final supplies and fuel in Gibraltar in what was her first visit to the territory.[9] After arriving in the Caribbean, Medway joined Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship RFA Argus to form a task group, offering nearby British Overseas Territories a range of support from disaster relief during the hurricane season to tackling all forms of illicit trafficking.[10] The deployment also coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and both ships were reported to be on standby to offer any support, if required.[11] The Governor of the British Virgin Islands subsequently requested the assistance of Medway in securing the territory's borders in an effort to control the spread of the virus in late September.[12] Mid-September also saw the involvement of Medway in a large counter-narcotics operation in conjunction with Argus, 47 Commando (Raiding Group) Royal Marines and the United States Coast Guard. The operation lead to the seizure of cocaine with a UK street value of £81 million, according to the National Crime Agency.[13] Currently HMS Medway is in Hamilton, Bermuda.


  1. "Headway on Medway as steel is cut on Navy's new patrol ship". Royal Navy. 8 June 2015. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  2. "Second Scottish built Royal Navy warship moves closer to service". GOV.UK. 8 June 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  3. Philip DunneMinister for Defence Procurement (20 October 2014). "Patrol Craft: Written question - 210211". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons.
  4. "Make way for Medway as second new patrol ship is named". Royal Navy. 20 October 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  5. "Medway makes headway as new patrol ship completes sea trials". 11 December 2018. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "HMS Medway ready for duty after Commissioning Ceremony". Portsmouth. Royal Navy. 19 September 2019. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  7. "HMS Medway Watches Russian Cruiser Through Channel". Royal Navy. 16 August 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  8. "HMS Medway Sets Sail for the Caribbean". Royal Navy. 20 January 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  9. "HMS Medway Makes a Pit-Stop at Gibraltar". Royal Navy. 27 January 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  10. "RFA Argus and HMS Medwey Combine on Caribbean Disaster Relief Exercises". Royal Navy. 15 June 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  11. "Royal Marines Swap Arctic for Caribbean Mission". Royal Navy. 22 May 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  12. "BVI Governor Invities British Navy to Secure Borders; Overrides Premier". CNW. 26 September 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2020.
  13. "Royal Navy Seize £81m of Cocaine in Triple Drugs Bust". Royal Navy. 18 September 2020. Retrieved 1 October 2020.

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