LONDON, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Three new offshore patrol vessels are to be built in Scotland for Britain's Royal Navy by BAE Systems.
A contract for the 295-foot River-class OPVs was issued by the Ministry of Defense and carries a value of about $580.5 million, the company reported.
"This is a significant contract award which marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for the UK shipbuilding sector," said Mick Ord, managing director at BAE Systems Naval Ships. "We're making major investments in our people, technology and facilities to create a world-class complex warship capability and the OPVs provide an opportunity to embed these new ways of working.
"This will ensure we remain competitive and are best placed to secure the Type 26 manufacturing contract, which together with the investments will sustain the long-term future of this highly skilled industry."
The vessels will feature a redesigned flight deck capable of landing Merlin helicopters and greater storage capacity. They will have a top speed of 24 knots and a range of 5,500 nautical miles, BAE said.
The new contract follows an award given BAE Systems in March for long lead items for the vessels, which are expected to enter into service in 2017 for operations such as counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling.
Manufacture of the boat's at BAE's shipyard in Glasgow will begin in March.