What is the First Patrol Boat Squadron?


The First Patrol Boat Squadron is part of the Surface Fleet of the Royal Navy, the maritime component of the British Armed Forces.

What is the First Patrol Boat Squadron?

Fourteen P2000 Fast Inshore Patrol Craft form the First Patrol Boat Squadron.

Their primary role is to support the University Royal Naval Units (URNU), but they also contribute to a wide range of Fleet tasking.

HMS Raider and HMS Tracker make up the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron, part of the team that safeguard Britain’s nuclear fleet.

HMS Sabre and HMS Scimitar make up the Gibraltar Squadron (along with three RIBs), part of the team which provides force protection and security to Gibraltar’s maritime environment.

Commander First Patrol Boat Squadron

The First Patrol Boat Squadron is led by an OF-4 level officer, a Commander.

In April 2012, Sue Moore became the first female commander of the squadron (Hopkins, 2012; Moore, 2018).

Organisation of the First Patrol Boat Squadron

The First Patrol Boat Squadron is currently composed of a headquarters element and fourteen Archer-class vessels:

  1. HMS Archer (P264): Has been the training vessel for the Edinburgh University Royal Naval Unit (URNU) since July 2012. The Edinburgh URNU is the newest of the 14 units that were first formed in 1967.
  2. HMS Biter (270): Is the training vessel for the Manchester and Salford URNU.
  3. HMS Blazer (P279): Is the training vessel for the URNU at Southampton Solent University, Portsmouth University, and Southampton Institute.
  4. HMS Charger (P292): has been the URNU for Liverpool University since 1990 and is based at Brunswick Dock on the site of the new Royal Naval Headquarters, Merseyside.
  5. HMS Dasher (P280): Is the training vessel for the Bristol and Devon URNU, as well as serving multiple training roles for departments within the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.
  6. HMS Example (P165): Is the training vessel for Northumbrian URNU and is based at HMS Calliope, a Royal Naval Reserve Base next to the Tyne Bridge on Gateshead Quayside.
  7. HMS Exploit (P167): Is the training vessel for the Birmingham URNU. The URNU covers a wide area, taking undergraduates from eight Universities in the region including Loughborough and Warwick.
  8. HMS Explorer (P164): Is the training vessel for the URNU based at Kingston-upon-Hull, providing sea training opportunities for undergraduates from the Universities of Yorkshire including (but not limited to) Leeds, Sheffield and Hull.
  9. HMS Express (P163):  Is the training vessel for the URNU based at Penarth Marina in Cardiff Bay and is affiliated with the Wales University Royal Navy Unit with undergraduates drawn from Cardiff and Swansea Universities, University of South Wales and University of Wales Institute Cardiff.
  10. HMS Puncher (P291): Is the training vessel for the London URNU.
  11. HMS Pursuer (P273): Is the training vessel for the Glasgow and Strathclyde URNU, located in the Glasgow University grounds and is based in HM Naval Base Clyde.
  12. HMS Ranger (P293): Is the training vessel for the Sussex University URNU, based in Portsmouth. Built in 1987 in Shoreham and originally allocated to the Ulster Division Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) for Junior Officer Training. In 1991 she went to form part of the Gibraltar Squadron and returned to the UK in 2004 to be allocated to the Sussex URNU.
  13. HMS Smiter (P272): Is the training vessel for the Oxford URNU. Commissioned in 1986.
  14. HMS Trumpeter (P294): Is the training vessel for the Cambridge URNU. She was built by Vosper Thornycroft and commissioned in 1988.
  15. HMS Tracker (P274): No longer part of the squadron.
  16. HMS Raider: Part of the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron.
  17. HMS Tracker: Part of the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron.
  18. HMS Sabre (P285): Part of the Gibraltar Squadron which provides force protection and security to Gibraltar’s maritime environment, enforcing and asserting the sovereign integrity of British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, whilst contributing to the overall defence effort.
  19. HMS Scimitar (P284): Part of the Gibraltar Squadron.

Characteristics of the Archer-Class Vessels

The Royal Navy has invested in the upgrading of the vessels, improving their performance:

  • 54 tonne displacement.
  • A range of 550 nautical miles.
  • A top speed of 25 knots.
  • Each vessel can carry up to 18 crew members (Naval Today, 2018).

What is a University Royal Navy Unit?

“The P2000 class of ships are unique to the Royal Navy in that they are manned by university students but commanded by a Royal Navy officer, usually a lieutenant.” (MOD, 2011).

The role of a University Royal Navy Unit (URNU) is to provide high-quality sea training experiences to undergraduates from universities, developing seamanship, team building and leadership skills in a maritime environment.

These ships also support the Fleet in a range of roles around the UK and European waters, showing the White Ensign in places that larger vessels cannot reach.

A Royal Navy Lieutenant (OF-2) commands each of the URNU’s and is responsible for 51 undergraduates during their time in the Unit (Afloat, 2018).

The university squadron is not a recruiting organisation and membership of the URNU carries no obligation to join the Royal Navy on graduation.


Afloat (2018) University Challenge As UK’s Royal Navy Boat Squadron On Tour. Available from World Wide Web: https://afloat.ie/port-news/naval-visits/item/38806-university-challenge-as-uk-s-royal-navy-boat-squadron-on-tour. [Accessed: 19 June, 2018].

Hopkins, N. (2012) First woman to command Royal Navy frigate takes helm. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/may/22/first-woman-to-command-royal-navy-frigate. [Accessed: 19 June, 2018].

MOD (Ministry of Defence) (2011) Royal Navy patrol vessels gather for squadron exercise. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/royal-navy-patrol-vessels-gather-for-squadron-exercise. [Accessed: 19 June, 2018].

Moore, S. (2018) Linkedin Biography. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sue-moore-09968442/. [Accessed: 19 June, 2018].

Naval Today (2018) Royal Navy deploys five P2000 boats on Scotland patrol. Available from World Wide Web: https://navaltoday.com/2018/04/04/royal-navy-deploys-five-p2000-boats-on-scotland-patrol/. [Accessed: 19 June, 2018].


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