LONDON, March 13 (UPI) -- Britain's Ministry of Defense has committed more than $33 million to acquiring offshore patrol vessels from BAE Systems.
The announcement of the funding was made this week by Minister for Defense Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne during a visit to the company's shipyards in Clyde, Scotland.
"This £20 million ($33.2 million) is a significant milestone, critical to the successful delivery of these three vessels for the Royal Navy," he said. "The OPVs will not only provide an additional capability for the UK but also, at its peak, the OPV program will safeguard more than 800 vital skilled roles in the shipbuilding industry."
The offshore patrol boats will be used to support counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and anti-smuggling operations in the waters around the UK and abroad. The vessels will be larger than the River-class ships now being used on these missions and will have a larger flight deck for helicopters.
The current funding will enable BAE Systems to begin work on parts such as the engines and gearboxes that have to be ordered in advance of construction of a vessel.
The Ministry of Defense said it expects to receive the first OPV from BAE Systems in 2017.