It's a process the Clyde shipbuilders of the past could never have dreamed of - the chance to take a detailed, virtual tour of a ship before it is even built.

But BAE Systems is using the latest in digital technology to do just that, offering the Royal Navy the opportunity to see their latest purchase up close, including precise details down to the colour of the carpet in the officers' mess.

HMS Forth, a new offshore patrol vessel (OPV) which entered the water for the first time almost three weeks ago, is one of three new warships being built as part of a £348 million contract.

Read more: WATCH: Navy warship built on River Clyde unveiled at BAE's Scotstoun yard

The ship's digital blueprint, which includes avatars of Navy personnel, allowed officials to ensure their exacting specifications were being met before work began, compared to previous builds where problems were often only identified once the work was complete.

The vessel, the first complex warship to be fully assembled in Glasgow since the HMS Duncan in 2010, has now been transferred from BAE's site in Govan to the firm's dock in Scotstoun, where it is being fitted out with complex combat systems before being handed over to the Royal Navy in 2017.

Iain Stevenson, managing director at BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: “For Forth to enter the water less than two years after construction started is hugely significant and sets the tone for the future of modern warship building.

"She is the first complex warship to benefit from the new technologies and methods that we are introducing to further bolster our ability to be the best supplier to the Royal Navy."

BAE are the first to use the visualisation technology in shipbuilding and claim it has saved time and money on the build.

A new approach to launching the ship, by floating it off a barge rather than down a traditional slipway, also allowed more of the work to be carried out under cover, meaning there was no need for a dry dock.

Read more: WATCH: Navy warship built on River Clyde unveiled at BAE's Scotstoun yard

Mr Stevenson added: "Forth has already benefitted from a safer and more efficient build process that enabled much of the work to take place under cover, and as a result she leaves our Govan facility at a much higher rate of completion.

“We’re building on the proud heritage of British shipbuilding here in Glasgow and looking to the future. Not only does this mean we are creating valuable additions to the Royal Navy’s fleet but we are ensuring that shipbuilding skills and expertise are maintained and developed in the UK."

Work on the two other OPV's, HMS Medway and HMS Trent, is also underway, with preparatory work in place for a fourth.

The systems and technologies used to build the ships, which will carry out a wide range of tasks from disaster relief to maritime security, will also be put to use in BAE's delivery of the Navy's Type 26 Frigates.