HONG KONG will request about $100 million from Britain for three navy patrol craft likely to be kept by the Ministry of Defence due to a lack of interest from overseas buyers. Although they were designed specifically for Hong Kong and operations in the South China Sea, the Peacock-class ships are likely to return to the UK after the handover. The ships were tentatively put on offer last year but it is understood no bids have been received. Rather than stay in Hong Kong for use by the Special Administrative Region government, it now seems likely they will be put to use around the British isles. The Ministry of Defence in London is expected to come to a decision on their future in about six months. 'They would have uses and these are being examined at the moment, such as fisheries protection or other low intensity operations,' said Captain Peter Melson, Garrison Chief of Staff. However he said their use was restricted due to the vessels' short range of about 4,000 kilometres. 'They are fairly small and their range is not amazing but they can be at sea for about 10 days.' The Hong Kong Government paid 75 per cent in the early 1980s of the GBP60 million cost of five vessels, HMS Peacock, Plover, Starling, Swallow and Swift; the British Government paying the rest. Swallow and Swift were sold to the Republic of Ireland in 1988 for less than half the initial cost. Should the British take the boats, they will have to pay Hong Kong a proportion of their depreciated value likely to top $100 million . However, defence expert Paul Beaver, of the Jane's defence publishing group, claimed China would love to take the vessels as they had stable gun platforms and were designed for the tropics.