A Thai shipbuilder has inked a new contract with a British defense firm to build a second offshore patrol vessel (OPV) for the Royal Thai navy (RTN).
Under the agreement announced on January 29, BAE Systems will provide engineering support and advice during the construction of a second modified River-class OPV at Thai shipbuilder Bangkok Dock’s facilities at the Mahidol Adulyadej Naval Dockyard.
The 90-meter OPVs are highly versatile ships which can be employed for various functions including the management of exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and the provision of disaster relief. The RTN had accepted its first OPV, HTMS Krabi, back in 2013 which was also built in partnership with BAE Systems at Mahidol Adulyadej.
The announcement of a second OPV follows Bangkok Dock’s signing of a 2.85 billion baht ($80 million) contract last September to lead the project together with other domestic shipyards and a partnership between BAE Systems and Bangkok Dock first revealed by a company official at the Defense & Security show in Bangkok in November.
“We’re looking forward to building and strengthening our relationship with Thailand’s shipbuilding industry,” Nigel Stewart, the commercial director for BAE Systems’ Naval Ships business, said in a company press release. “This contract to support delivery of a second Offshore Patrol Vessel to the Royal Thai Navy is a clear endorsement of our versatile Offshore Patrol Vessel design.”
The construction of the new vessel is expected to take two to three years. Thailand is also expected to pursue other River-class OPV contracts as the Southeast Asian state requires at least five of them, which can be used for routine patrols, border control, disaster relief and the protection of natural resources in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea.
Apart from Thailand, the vessel has also attracted interest in Britain and also in Brazil which took delivery of three OPVs from 2013 to 2014.
“With three of these ships already in service in Brazil and a further three Offshore Patrol Vessels under construction for the UK Royal Navy, our design continues to attract significant interest internationally,” Stewart said.