Coastal Patrol, Offshore Patrol & Maritime Defence – Sept 2004/June 2010
Maritime Security: A Review of Existing OPV Types –
(or Smaller) Offshore Patrol Vessels
Also see: Australia and Iceland as case studies for smaller patrol vessels.
Only one corvette-sized OPV type been designed in Canada in recent years. The PV75
Vigilant was the first design in this OPV series.  Created by a consortium of West Coast firms for the Coast
Guard of Mauritius, PV75 reflects a trend for smaller, faster OPVs combining
weather protection with stealth.
Vigilant's most distinctive feature is a large superstructure enclosing part of its forward deck and
passageways back to the hangar. The main mast is largely covered as is the funnel. Only a small helicopter
deck at the extreme rear breaks the vessel's smooth lines.
An evolution of the PV75 is the Róisín class or PV80 built in the UK for Ireland.
The PV80 was designed for the heavier seas of the North Atlantic. Also known as the Guardian,
PV80s lack helicopter deck but suit the Irish Naval Service.  LÉ Róisín came
to the aid of a burning HMCS Chicoutimi off Ireland in 2004.
The hull of the PV85 is derived from those earlier, Canadian-designed OPVs but has a new superstructure
which makes room for a substantial helicopter deck and a hangar. New Zealand ordered two PV85s (
built in Australia ) for its navy as Protector class OPVs. The deck and hangar are designed to
accommodate a 6 tonne helicopter type.
Another OPV able to handle maritime helicopters is the Royal Navy's River class. Rivers have no
hangar, but a 5 tonne helicopter can 'land on'. These RN ships will be very seaworthy, but with
fisheries patrol as a primary role, armament is light and the ships slow.
Were DND to choose a corvette-sized OPV, a ship in the PV85 class would seem the best match. But there's one
big problem with all corvette-sized OPV types: the large size of available Canadian Forces maritime
helicopters. The CF's serving Sea Kings and the newly-arriving CH-148 Cyclones are far too large
for these vessels.
The helicopters are indicative of DND's problem with scale. While North Atlantic neighbours like
Iceland and Britain (left) are content with smaller
OPVs, Maritime Staff leaned towards reinventing the frigate. As with the MCDVs, this is reflecting a
tendancy to jam too many roles into one hull. If Canadian EEZs are to be secured, more economic vessel will be
needed. The CCG already includes modest OPVs in its fleet. Convinving DND of the need will be a bigger
 The very first of the series was the Canadian Coast Guard's OPV, the Leonard J. Cowley (built in a
Canadian shipyard unlike the Vigilant ). The hull of this 72m CCG OPV is the basis for
the PV75 Vigilant, PV80 Róisín, and PV85 Protector.
 The Vigilant's development went largely unnoticed in Canada because actual construction was
done in Chile as a cost-savings. The design is now handled by Aker Kværner (the consortium broke up but the
parent firms remain active in BC ).
 The are two PV80 hulls in Irish service – LÉ Róisín (P51) and
LÉ Niamh (P52). Ireland has two other OPV types in service – 65m Emer class and 80m
LÉ Eithne. Only the latter type is equipped with a small helicopter landing deck and