HMS Biter (P270)

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HMS Biter alongside in Tobermory, Scotland in April 2009
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Biter
Operator: Royal Navy
Builder: Watercraft Ltd., Shoreham-On-Sea
Launched: 17 October 1985
Commissioned: 25 January 1986
In service: RNR: 1986
URNU: 1990
Homeport: HMS Eaglet, Liverpool
Status: in active service, as of 2024
General characteristics
Class and type: Archer class patrol vessel
Displacement: 49 tons
Length: 20.8 m (68 ft 3 in)
Beam: 5.8 m (19 ft)
Draught: 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, Rolls Royce M800T diesels, 1,590 bhp
Speed: 18 knots
Range: 550 nmi (1,020 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Complement: 5 (RN), 1 training officer (RNR), 12 students (URNU) or 12 (RN)
Sensors and
processing systems:
Decca 1216 navigation radar
Armament: Fitted for but not with 3 × 7.62 mm L7 GPMG, can also be fitted with 20 mm cannon on fo'c'sle)
Notes: Pennant = P270
Badge: HMS Biter crest.jpg

HMS Biter (P270) is an Archer-class P2000-type patrol and training vessel of the British Royal Navy. She is assigned to Manchester & Salford Universities Royal Naval Unit, a Royal Naval Reserve unit based in Manchester. The ship is based at HMS Eaglet, the Royal Naval Headquarters (Merseyside) in Liverpool. As part of her sea training programme, she often makes visits to local ports for ceremonial visits or occasions.


She was built by Watercraft Ltd. at Shoreham-by-Sea in 1986 as one of ten vessels ordered as the P2000 class. The class was based on a design of an Omani coastguard cutter built by Watercraft Marine. They are twin-shaft vessels with moulded glass-reinforced plastic hulls. She has no dedicated armament though she can be fitted with pintle-mounted L7 7.62 mm GPMG machine guns. Biter is part of the First Patrol Boat Squadron (1PBS) based at HMNB Portsmouth.[1]


Biter was commissioned in 1986 into the Royal Navy and she was attached to a Royal Naval Reserve Unit. In 1990, she was transferred to Manchester and Salford University Royal Naval Unit. Biter's time at sea includes weekends visiting local ports such as Holyhead, Douglas and Barrow-in-Furness and deployments during the Easter and Summer holidays when she visits ports around the UK and northern Europe. She is attached to the Manchester and Salford University Royal Naval Unit (URNU) and her main role is to provide Naval training to URNU students on weekends and in Easter and Summer deployments.

File:HMS Biter in Liverpool, October 09, Sea King.jpg
HMS Biter operating with a Sea King helicopter in the River Mersey

As part of her sea training programme, she often makes visits to local ports for ceremonial visits or occasions. In May 1993, she attended the Battle of the Atlantic 50th Anniversary Fleet Review. More recently, in December 2005, she helped to start the Round the World Clipper Race in Liverpool.[2] Biter visited Barrow-in-Furness in July 2007 for the launching of HMS Astute, the first of class of the Astute class submarine.[3] She also regularly visits her affiliated town of Silloth in Cumbria for Remembrance Sunday commemorations. The tabloid The Sun published an article in February 2009 regarding a cadet being towed by Biter in a rubber ring whilst wearing a mankini during a deployment near Portsmouth, Hampshire.[4]

In July 2009 Biter transited the Manchester Ship Canal in company with her sister ship HMS Charger and the minesweeper HMS Ledbury. While docked in Salford Quays the Ledbury hosted a cocktail party in company with Manchester and Salford Universities Royal Naval Unit which included various local dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenants of Manchester and Salford respectively.[5] In October 2009, Biter took part in the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Fleet Air Arm. Here she demonstrated anti-piracy and hostage rescue operation along with several helicopters from the Fleet Air Arm.[6]


Biter is captained by a Lieutenant and is permanently crewed by 4 other Royal Navy personnel. Chief Petty Officers fill the roles of Executive Officer and Marine Engineering Officer, and the yeoman and Weapons Engineering Officer are junior rates of the appropriate service branches. With students embarked (up to a maximum of 12), a training officer is usually present who is typically an RNR Lieutenant or Sub-Lieutenant. The Commanding Officer of Biter who is also the Officer in Charge of Manchester and Salford Royal Naval Unit is currently Lieutenant David King who assumed command in October 2009.[7]

Manchester and Salford University Royal Naval Unit

The Manchester and Salford University Royal Naval Unit (M&SURNU) is one of 14 URNUs attached to Universities across England, Wales and Scotland. The organisation's Mission is to "educate a wide spectrum of high calibre undergraduates who show potential as society's future leaders and opinion formers in order to better inform them of the need for and role of the Royal Navy, and to develop awareness of career opportunities in the Service."[8] Whilst a member of the unit, students hold the rank of honorary Midshipmen.

The students undergo shore-based training held in the Unit headquarters in Manchester University where they undergo a programme of classroom-based instruction at weekly "drill nights". Students also have opportunities to spend time on larger Royal Navy warships and naval bases, to participate in adventurous training and to gain RYA qualifications. Throughout the year there the unit conducts various sporting events as well as charity events alongside the programme of sea-training.[9]



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  1. "Commodore Portsmouth Flotilla". Royal Navy. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 
  2. "First Base; Ins and Outs; September". Royal Navy (Fleet Support): p. 12. December 2005. 
  3. "Excitement Builds as Four Royal Navy Ships Head to Barrow to Welcome Astute Launch". Royal Navy. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 
  4. "Sailor dragged behind ship". The Sun (News Corp.). 19 February 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 
  5. "North-West passage". Navy News. 9 June 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 
  6. "Fly Navy 100 Centenary Celebrations". Royal Navy. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 
  7. "Commanding Officer". Royal Navy. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 
  8. "P2000 Class (URNU)". Royal Navy. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 
  9. "Blood donation". Royal Navy. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 

External links