THE last in a series of five ships designed and built in Glasgow has set sail on its delivery voyage after a huge effort from workers during the coronavirus pandemic to complete the £635 million contract.

The Ministry of Defence will welcome HMS Spey to Portsmouth at the end of the journey from BAE Systems on the Clyde as part of an extended contract that took just six years to complete.

HMS Spey’s departure marks the completion of the Batch 2 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) programme build phase, which has seen BAE Systems design, construct, commission and deliver five River Class OPVs to the Royal Navy in six years.

READ MORE: Momentous occasion as HMS Spey leaves Glasgow

HMS Spey follows Forth, Medway, Trent and Tamar, which have been deployed around the world.

Whilst there was no fanfare departure amid Covid, the workforce was able to nod to a proud moment as the ship was launched.

At its peak, the programme sustained approximately 1400 jobs within BAE Systems and delivered a supply chain spend of almost £240m to more than 150 suppliers across the UK and Europe. The pace of the programme also provided a valuable opportunity for more than 200 BAE Systems apprentices to experience all aspects of ship design, construction, outfitting and test and commissioning.

Mike Macfarlane, OPV delivery director, BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: “We are immensely proud of our role in delivering these ships to the Royal Navy and this is a landmark moment for the River Class Batch 2 OPV programme, which showcases the skills and expertise we have here on the Clyde.

“Working collaboratively with the Royal Navy, the UK Ministry of Defence and our suppliers, we have successfully overcome this year’s Covid-19 challenges to deliver this strategically important programme which will benefit and protect our nation’s interests at home and abroad.

“As the final OPV to leave the Clyde, we will be sad to see HMS Spey go, but wish her, her Commanding Officer and crew all the best in their new home with the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.”

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Mark Beverstock, head of the OPV and Type 26 delivery teams at Defence Equipment and Support, said: “As well as delivering five ships to the Royal Navy, the OPV programme has played a crucial role in ensuring shipbuilding capability for the future while focusing on continuous improvement.

“The standard of presentation of the Batch 2 OPVs improved continuously through the programme. HMS Spey achieved ‘best in class’ and I am very proud of the team, who have fought adversity and have all raised their game in order to complete the programme on time and on budget.”

Mr Macfarlane said: “It has been a busy 12 months. We had three ships deployed, even though they might be in Portsmouth or spread all over the world, we still manage the contracts for supporting those ships.

“The nerve centre ... the controlling point, is here in Scotstoun.”

Mr Macfarlane said the defence secretary described the ships like being “the Swiss Army knife of the Navy”.

“They see the ships as being very adaptable, very capable,” he said. The programme has also supported the development of new talent that will now go on to contribute to the delivery the Type 26 ships.

READ MORE: Next generation of Clyde shipbuilders share proud moment at Spey launch

Mr Macfarlane said: “It has allowed us to develop people. We have had to move individuals into senior, leading roles and develop our leadership capability. Also [an opportunity] for pulling in the likes of Ellis and other individuals who have taken on supporting roles throughout the programme and performed fantastically.”

As the pandemic took hold, he said the firm had shifts running 24/7 under Covid-secure conditions “and it was a fantastic commitment from the workforce”, adding: “When the company needed them and the Royal Navy needed us, they really stepped up.”