Bird Class Large Patrol Boats

Four Bird Class Patrol Boats - Kingfisher, Cygnet, Peterel and Sandpiper - were completed between 1975 and 1977 by Richard Dunston, for service in the Inshore Division of the Fishery Protection Squadron, costing £1.1 million each. They were based on the Royal Air Force (RAF) Seal Class long-range recovery and support vessels.

Displacing 190 tons they measured 37 metres in length, 7 metres in breadth and 2 metres in draught. Powered by two Paxman diesels they had a speed of 21 knots. They were armed with a single 40mm Bofor gun mounted aft and two general purpose machine guns. They also carried two Gemini small craft. They had a complement of 4 officers and 19 ratings and were usually the command of a lieutenant.

These vessels proved to be poor seaboats and the design was considered unsuccessful. Peterel and Sandpiper never undertook patrol duties, instead being employed as training tenders for the Royal Navy Reserve (RNR) while a decision was taken on their future. They were eventually assigned to Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth to provide sea experience for Cadets and Midshipmen. For this role they were fitted with an enclosed bridge. Meanwhile Kingfisher and Cygnet were assigned to Northern Ireland Squadron were they patrolled the province’s waterways and attempted to prevent the smuggling of arms and personnel.

In 1985 a fifth vessel- Redpole - was commissioned. She had been ordered in 1967 and built in 1969 by Fairmile Construction at Berwick-on-Tweed, as the Seal Class RAF long range recovery and support vessel HMAV Sea Otter.

Class Details

Craft Pennant Builder Launched Commissioned
Kingfisher P260 Richard Dunston (Humberside) September 20th 1974 October 8th 1975
Cygnet P261 Richard Dunston (Humberside) October 6th 1975 July 8th 1976
Peterel P262 Richard Dunston (Humberside) May 14th 1976 September 16th 1977
Sandpiper P263 Richard Dunston (Humberside) January 20th 1977 September 16th 1977
Redpole P264 Fairmile Construction (Berwick) 1969 1983

Craft Histories

Craft History
Cygnet Cygnet’s hull was constructed Thorne in South Yorkshire and then transported to Hessele for fitting out. Assigned to Northern Ireland Squadron. In February 1996 Cygnet was sold to a private customer at Southampton.
Peterel Employed as a training tender for the Royal Navy Reserve (RNR) and then as a training vessel for Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. Later replaced in this role by HMS Wilton.
Sandpiper Employed as a training tender for the Royal Navy Reserve (RNR) and then as a training vessel for Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. Having been replaced in this role by HMS Wilton, Sandpiper was sold to a Dutch company in April 1991.
Redpole Ordered in 1967 as a Seal Class long range recovery and support vessel and commissioned into the Royal Air Force (RAF) as HMAV Sea Otter in 1970. Transferred to the Royal Navy in March 1985 and after a refit at Lowestoft commissioned as HMS Redpole. In 1992 she underwent a refit at Aberdeen. Sold to a private owner and renamed Badtz Maru.

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© Written and researched by Jeremy Olver. First uploaded 10th February 2001. Updated 10th February 2001. Disclaimer.