Two UK Patrol Vessels Deploy for a Five Year Indo-Pacific Mission

HMS Spey, sporting "dazzle paint" camouflage, departs Portsmouth on a five-year voyage (Royal Navy)

Published Sep 10, 2021 1:24 AM by The Maritime Executive

Patrol ships HMS Spey and Tamar have begun their deployment to the Indo-Pacific to bolster Britain’s presence in the region. The two warships have sailed on a mission which will see them deployed from the eastern shores of Africa to the west coast of the USA for the next five years.

Spey and Tamar will arrive in the Pacific just after the maiden deployment by HMS Queen Elizabeth and her strike group, which spent several months working alongside the UK’s allies and partners in the region. They will carry out out security patrols to counter drug-running, smuggling and other illegal activities, join in exercises with other navies and armed forces, and show the UK's presence in the region. 

In an unusual arrangement for such a long forward-deployed mission, they will have no home port, but will use multiple bases throughout the tour. Their patrol area will cover the Indian and Pacific Oceans, as far north as the Bering Sea and as far south as New Zealand. 

“Two-thirds of the world is our playground,” said Lieutenant Commander Ben Evans, HMS Spey’s Commanding Officer. “We are going to places that the Royal Navy has not visited in a long time – that’s really exciting.”

Each ship is crewed by 46 sailors, with half the crew trading places with replacements from the UK every few weeks. The constant rotation will allow the Royal Navy to get the most out of the ships, with the crews at sea for up to nine months of the year, while the vessels themselves ready for operations all year round.

“I have served in this region before, but it is an exciting new endeavour for us as the lead echelon of the RN’s new permanent forward presence," said Tamar CO Commander Teilo Elliot-Smith. “The ship will operate in this part of the world for the foreseeable future, working closely to strengthen our existing alliances in the region, whilst also embracing the opportunity to support the development of newer relationships along the way.”

The two ships will be distinctly British in appearance for this mission. They have both been repainted in Royal Navy World War II-era "dazzle paint" schemes, which are immediately identifiable.

"With our paint schemes, we stand out – we look different. We’ll be flying the White Ensign together in the Indo-Pacific region. People will know that the Royal Navy is back," said Lt Cdr Evans.