Island Class Offshore Patrol Vessels

The seven Island Class ships were built specifically for offshore patrol. Their design owed much to that of HMS Jura, operated by the Royal Navy on behalf of the Scottish Fishery Protection Agency. She was built to commercial standards and resembled a trawler in both design and appearance. The first five Island Class vessels were ordered in July 1975, followed by a furthur two in October 1977. They were all built in Aberdeen by Hall Russel and entered service between 1976 and 1979. As a result of the commercial design they were built with spacious living conditions, although they can be very unstable in rough seas. This, along with their small size, slow speed and lack of flight deck, has brought them much criticism and led to the development of a Mark II Patrol Vessel- the Castle Class.

The Island Class are lighter than the Castle class with a displacement of 1,100 tones. They are 59.5 metres long with a breadth of 10.97 metres. Armed with a 40mm close range gun and they have a crew of 37. They carry high speed inflatable boats for boarding parties and in some cases they carry a contingent of Royal Marines. Powered by two diesel engines.

The two principle tasks of the class are the patrolling of British fishing grounds on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and the protection of the North Sea Oil and Gas fields from terrorist threats.. As fishery protection vessels they patrol the 200 mile fishing limit around the British coastline, which encompasses some of the world's richest fishing grounds. They ensure that European Union (EU) and British regulations (such as limits on net sizes, fish types, catch rates etc) are adhered to and they also mediate disputes between fishermen of different nationalities. However they also have a number of other duties including assisting HM Customs and Excise, assisting vessels in distress, environmental and anti-pollution work and scientific and marine studies.

The lead ship of the class, Jersey, was decommissioned and sold to Bangladesh in 1994. The Fishery Protection Squadron came under examination in the Strategic Defence Review. It concluded "The Scottish Fishery Protection Agency has, however, decided that it no longer requires Royal Navy assistance on fishery protection duties in Scottish waters. The SDR therefore concluded that the Squadron should be reduced by one ship". Orkney was subsequently paid off in April 1999 and laid up at Portsmouth Dockyard. The review also outlined the government's intention to re-examine the future of the entire squadron as the Island class approach the end of their lives from 2007.

Upon entering service the Island Class were based as Rosyth in Scotland. However, when the headquarters of the Fishery Protection Squadron moved to Portsmouth in 1995, the six ships were redeployed and mainly operate in southern waters.

Class Details

Ship Pennant Number Builder Laid Down Launched Commissioned
Jersey P295 Hall Russell (Aberdeen) ??? 1976 October 15th 1976
Anglesey P277 Hall Russell (Aberdeen) Febuary 6th 1978 October 18th 1978 June 1st 1979
Alderney P278 Hall Russell (Aberdeen) June11th 1978 Febuary 27th 1979 October 6th 1979
Guernsey P297 Hall Russell (Aberdeen) May 14th 1976 Febuary 17th 1977 October 28th 1977
Shetland P298 Hall Russell (Aberdeen) 1975 October 22nd 1976 July 14th 1977
Orkney P299 Hall Russell (Aberdeen) ?? June 29th 1976 Febuary 1977
Lindisfarne P300 Hall Russell (Aberdeen) 1976 June 1st 1977 March 3rd 1978

HMS Orkney (P299)

Above: HMS Orkney (P299). Thanks to Kevin Strelley for providing this picture.

Ship Histories

Ship History
Jersey Launched by Princess Anne. Sold to Bangladesh and renamed Shaheed Rahul Amin.
Guernsey Launched by the wife of the Governor of the Island of Geurnsey, Lady Martin.
Orkney Launched by Lady Troup, wife of Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland. Orkney was paid off on 30th April 1999 and was laid up at Portsmouth Dockyard. Trinadad & Tobago expressed and interest in pruchasing Orkney, and in July 2000 she was towed to Devonport to enable a survey of her hull to be undertaken. She was subsequently sold to the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) and renamed TTS Nelson (CG20)

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© Written and researched by Jeremy Olver. Last updated 29th October 2000. Disclaimer.