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BRP Artemio Ricarte (ex-HMS Starling)
|Builders:||Hall, Russell & Company, Aberdeen|
|Preceded by:||Castle class|
|Succeeded by:||River class|
|In commission:||1 December 1982 - 1996 (Royal Navy)|
|Displacement:||712 tons full load|
|Length:||62.6 m (205 ft 5 in)|
|Beam:||10 m (32 ft 10 in)|
|Draught:||2.72 m (8 ft 11 in)|
|Propulsion:||2 diesels, 2 shafts, 14,188 bhp (10,580 kW)|
|Speed:||25 kn (46 km/h; 29 mph)|
|Complement:||30 - 40|
The five ships of this class were originally part of the Hong Kong Squadron of the Royal Navy. The ships were built by Hall, Russell & Company of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom and were commissioned into Royal Navy service between 1983 and 1985. They were specifically built for service in Hong Kong with the 6th Patrol Craft Squadron; for work in tropical climates they were fully air conditioned and were capable of remaining at sea during typhoons. As well as ‘flying the flag’ and providing a constant naval presence in region, they could undertake a number of different roles including Seamanship, Navigation and Gunnery training and Search-and-Rescue duties for which they had facilities to carry divers (including a decompression chamber) and equipment to recover vessels and aircraft. They also worked with the Marine Department of the Hong Kong Police and with Customs & Excise to decrease the constant flow of illegal immigrants, narcotics and electronic equipment into the colony. For these roles each vessel could carry two Avon Searider SR5M rigid-hulled inflatable boats and a small detachment of Royal Marines.
HMS Peacock (P239), HMS Plover (P240), and HMS Starling (P241) were sold to the Philippines and were officially turned over to the Philippine Navy on 1 August 1997 after Hong Kong was returned to China. In Philippine service they are designated Emilio Jacinto-class corvettes, and have been considerably 'up-gunned' with a 25 mm M242 Bushmaster and two 20 mm Oerlikon guns.
HMS Swallow (P242) and HMS Swift (P243) were both sold to the Irish Naval Service in 1988. They were respectively renamed as LÉ Ciara (P42) and LÉ Orla (P41), and were commissioned under their current names by then-Taoiseach Charles Haughey on 16 January 1989.
The two ships take their names from traditional Irish mythology: Orla, a grand niece (great niece) of Brian Boru, the 11th-century High King of Ireland.; and Ciara, a saint born in Tipperary around the year 611 AD.
They replaced the three Ton-class minesweepers, the last of which the Irish Navy had recently retired before the delivery of the Peacock class. While the British Royal Navy classifies these vessels as offshore patrol boats, they are classed as coastal patrol boats by the Irish Naval Service, probably because of the climate in the Atlantic.
The sale of these almost new vessels to the Irish Naval Service caused friction between the Royal Navy and the British Government. The British at the time had no patrol boats of this size in home waters and were anxious to use them as patrol / training vessels. It was 2001 before the British Government ordered similar vessels (River class) for the Royal Navy.