The Welsh Assembly Government fisheries department has taken delivery of the first of five new high-speed patrol boats for fishery management and enforcement duties in Welsh waters, reports Stephen Lockwood.

Above: FPV Catrin alongside in Conwy marina. (Photo: Stephen Lockwood)

The first to be commissioned is the 13m FPV Catrin, named in memory of Catrin Glyndwr, a prominent woman in Welsh history and the daughter of the last Welsh-born Prince of Wales, Owain Glyndwr.

At the recent naming ceremony at Conwy marina, Lesley Griffiths AM, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, made a point of thanking the vessel’s builders, Marine Specialist Technology (MST) Ltd, Liverpool. “Without their dedication and efforts this would not have been possible,” Ms Griffiths said. “FPV Catrin will ensure that we can continue to enforce fisheries and marine laws effectively. She will help us meet our commitment to manage our fish stocks sustainably and safeguard Wales’ fishing industry and our coastal communities in the years ahead.”

In replying to the minister, Philip Hilbert, MST’s sales director, said, “Working with the Welsh government has been a great experience for us and resulted in an exceptional craft, of which we are very proud. Our relationship has been a partnership in which we have worked together to produce one of the most comprehensive vessels of this size and type. As a result, it offers unparalleled levels of innovation, technology and capability that we are sure will serve fisheries for many years to come.”

Catrin is the largest example to-date of MST’s highly regarded high-speed patrol-boat series of fully-enclosed wheelhouse rigid inflatable boats and, at 13m in length, is now the flagship of the MST range.

At the naming ceremony, Cabinet Secretary Griffiths also said that later this year, the Welsh Assembly fisheries department will take delivery of the 26m FPV Rhodri Morgan and 19m FPV Lady Megan. Both are under construction at the Pembroke Dock site of Mainstay Marine Solutions Ltd (MMS).

Unlike the FPV Catrin, the larger Rhodri Morgan will have a more conventional, full rigid mono-hull suitable for carrying out patrol duties primarily in the waters of south and southwest Wales. The vessel is to be named in memory of the late, highly-regarded First Minister for Wales.

The 19m Lady Megan is to be named after Megan Avon Lloyd George, the first female MP to represent a Welsh constituency. She, too, will have a rigid hull, but in contrast to both the Catrin and Rhodri Morgan, she is being built as a catamaran replacement for the ageing FPV Aegis, which currently operates off North Wales and in Cardigan Bay.

When asked about the project, MMS’ MD Stewart Graves said: “We are delighted with the progress of the builds so far. Our design, build and project management teams are enthusiastically engaged in ensuring we deliver a high-quality Welsh product on time and in budget.”

Two smaller inshore patrol boats, to be named Gwenllian and Siwan, are also under construction.

In addition to flying the internationally recognised fishery patrol pennant, all of the new vessels will be flying a new Welsh fisheries department flag, recently approved by the Garter Principal King of Arms. The flag takes the form of a Blue Ensign defaced with the Welsh dragon in gold.

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