After a request for tenders was issued by the MoD in 2018, today it was finally announced that the contract to build two new boats for the RN Gibraltar Squadron has been awarded.
The new boats are designed by BMT and will be constructed by MST (Marine Specialised Technology) Workboats on Merseyside as part of a £9.9 Million deal which includes 4 years of in-service support. Construction of the first vessel will begin this month, taking about 18 months to complete. Boat 1 is due to be delivered to the Rock in late 2021 or early 2022 with boat 2 to follow in the Spring of 2023.
The new 19-metre craft will be propelled by three Volvo Penta D13-1000 diesel engines. Fuel injection and twin-entry turbocharging can deliver up to 1000hp and will drive three MJP350 water jets which have thrust-reversing buckets for decreased stopping distance and increased manoeuvrability. Having a top speed of 40 knots, they will be an upgrade on HMS Sabre and Scimitar which could only achieve up to 32 Knots. The additional speed will improve response time to Spanish incursions and allow them to keep pace with high-speed craft sometimes used by drug smugglers in the area. The new craft will be capable of day and night operations and all weathers up to Sea State 6-7.
Armament has been improved with 3 gun positions, one on the foredeck and two on the aft deck. They will mount GPMGs but can be fitted with heavier 0.5 cal machine guns if required. The new boats are slightly larger than Scimitar and Sabre, crewed by 6 sailors and able to accommodate up to half a dozen passengers.
HMS Scimitar and Sabre are now no longer operational and will be returned to the UK for the first time since 2003. Their temporary replacements, HMS Dasher and HMS Pursuer, were delivered by MV Hurst Point on 22nd June and the RNGS has spent the past five weeks learning to operate the bigger vessels.
(Main image: MST)