A FLAW affecting life raft fastenings onboard the brand new Scots-built HMS Forth, which prompted an investigation by manufacturer BAE Systems, has been found on more than one vessel, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

The problem was one of more than 100 defects discovered on the vessel after it formally entered service last month. HMS Forth, which was built on the Clyde, is one of five offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) being built by BAE systems for the Navy. The OPVs will carry out anti-piracy duties and border patrols.

However, following the discovery of the defects, the vessel was put into ‘power down’ mode at its new base in Portsmouth and began operating with a reduced crew while repairs were carried out. Among the problems, which included faults with the electrical system, bolt fastenings on the structures between the vessel and its life rafts were found to have been glued on – a flaw thought to be highly unusual. HMS Forth remains out of service while repairs are ongoing.

READ MORE: Brand new Royal Navy vessel hit by series of failures just days after entering service

Now, BAE Systems has admitted that inspections on another River Class OPV have identified the same problem.

“As a precaution, we completed an inspection across the first three River Class OPVs to ensure continued adherence to the high standards we expect and our customers deserve,” a BAE spokesman said. “This identified one further instance of a glued bolt head, which was fixed immediately.”

When asked to respond to sources familiar with the matter indicating that a supervisor had taken responsibility for the bolt head issue, the spokesman added: “We do not comment on individual cases. An investigation is underway to establish the root cause of the incident and we will implement action as appropriate on conclusion.”

The development will come as a further blow for BAE Systems, which the Sunday Herald revealed last month had expressed concern to staff about reputational damage following the standard of recent work.

An internal BAE document stated: “Our reputation has seriously deteriorated on the back of recent business-wide operational performance and we all need to take action to improve this. We need everyone in Naval Ships to consider what the barriers are to right first-time performance in your area and identify solutions that you and your team can apply.”

READ MORE: Brand new Royal Navy vessel hit by series of failures just days after entering service

Following the latest revelation the SNP’s spokesperson for defence procurement, Douglas Chapman MP, said: “It is deeply concerning that further incidents of defects have been found on another River Class OPV vessel. The Ministry of Defence must ensure these faults are properly investigated, and that there is no risk posed to the safety of crew. I am meeting with BAE Systems this week, and I will be raising this matter with them directly.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) insisted that HMS Forth is still on track to enter service this year.

A spokesperson said: “HMS Forth remains on track to enter service later this year, when she will go on to tackle piracy, safeguard our fishing stocks and protect our coastline. It is normal for us to work with industry partners to make some rectifications to ships shortly after they have been handed to the Royal Navy, and BAE Systems are already at work on these areas.”

Meanwhile, senior union officials have warned that workers at Rosyth dockyard face "an ever more threatening future".

The MoD has put an order to build Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships out to international tender, but officials from the GMB, Unite and Prospect unions say that hundreds of jobs have already been lost at Rosyth.

Shipbuilding union leaders have written to the leaders of the SNP, Labour, Tory, Green and Lib Dems, calling on them to lobby the UK Government over the issue.

READ MORE: Brand new Royal Navy vessel hit by series of failures just days after entering service

They say: "As senior trade union officers representing members in the Scottish shipbuilding sector we are taking the unprecedented step of writing this open letter to all party leaders at Holyrood to register our concerns about the future of Scottish shipbuilding.

"We recognise that defence is a reserved matter but we also recognise the vital strategic nature of shipbuilding to the Scottish economy, and the influence that the Holyrood Parliament carries when talking about the impact of reserved decisions on Scottish workers."