Through the magic of 50 gallons of paint in “four shades of grey, plus black,” workers at the A&P yard in Falmouth gave the River-class Batch 2 OPV HMS Tamar (P233) what I think is a great upgrade to her scheme during a recent maintenance period. Headed to the Asia-Pacific region for an extended deployment, she is the first Royal Navy warship to receive a “dazzle” style camo since the Battle of the North Atlantic concluded in 1945.
“We’re really proud of our new paint scheme and the historical significance that it comes with,” said LCDR Michael Hutchinson, Tamar’s skipper. “Different styles of dazzle were used by the Royal Navy on ships in various stations throughout the world and were are pleased to have been given an iconic new look before we deploy in the summer.”
The Rivers are the equivalent of 19th Century station ships, based for years at a time in far-flung parts of the empire and Commonwealth such as the Caribbean, Falklands, and West Africa.
The 296-foot/2,000-ton OPVs only mount a 30mm gun and some small arms manned by their 40-person crew, which is fine as they are intended for low-risk constabulary-at-sea duties (anti-piracy, counter-smuggling/drug-trafficking, counter-terrorism, et. al). Capable of operating small UAVs alongside a Merlin-sized helicopter and hosting up to a platoon of Royal Marine Commandos, they are much like an LCS or a blue-water coast guard cutter in concept, only much more affordable and realistic.
Tamar has even been experimenting with using jet suits for boardings, which just looks like the coolest thing ever, although sets up a very real game of shooting skeet in the event of a contested boarding.
The Admiralty says all five of the Rivers of the Overseas Patrol Squadron will receive similar dazzle patterns.
Notably, two vessels of the Royal Canadian Navy– HMCS Moncton (MM708) and HMCS Regina (FFH 334)–– are sporting WWII-style North Atlantic patterns in an ode to that campaign. Perhaps they started a trend…