Ten vessels were ordered as the P2000 class, based on a design of an coastguard cutter, from Watercraft Marine. They are twin-shaft vessels with moulded hulls. After that company went into , the balance of the order was completed by .

The Archers were initially used as Royal Navy patrol craft and as training tenders for the (RNR) and (URNU). Four identical vessels were ordered for the (RNXS) as Example-class tenders. When that service was disbanded in 1994, the Examples were transferred to the Royal Navy for similar duties as their Archer-class brethren (under the same names under which they served as "XSVs", all of which begin with the first syllable "Ex"). Until 2005, the four Examples were still painted with a black hull.

In 1998 two additional vessels ( and ) of this design were commissioned into the Royal Navy from , to replace Loyal Watcher and Loyal Chancellor as URNU training vessels for the two newest URNUs, serving and Universities respectively ( was later transferred to Bristol URNU whilst became the ship of Cambridge URNU). This brought the total of Archer class vessels in the Royal Navy to sixteen, of which fourteen form the 1st Patrol Boat Squadron (formerly the Inshore Training Squadron), each one attached to an URNU (one per unit) under the command of a . The remaining two vessels ( and ), having formed the from 2003 to 2010, and URNU vessels before that, returned to the UK in April 2010 to form the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron, performing security duties within .

In 2012 Dasher and Pursuer were replaced by Raider and Tracker - these can be identified by a number of pintle-mounted and armour plating. and were also formerly allocated to the for and duties, but were replaced by the dedicated . These two ships were also used during the Thames River Pageant, escorting the Royal Barge during the Queens Diamond Jubilee. Unlike the remainder of the class, both these ships remain capable of being mounted with a cannon on the fo'c'sle.

The NATO designation of a P2000 is "PBR", denoting a "Patrol Boat - Riverine and Harbours".

Vessels in the class

NameBuilderCommissionedAttached toStatus
P264Watercraft Marine, 1985Edinburgh URNUIn active service
P270Watercraft Marine1986Manchester URNUIn active service
P272Watercraft Marine1988Oxford URNUIn active service
P273, 1988Glasgow URNUIn active service
P279Vosper Thornycroft1988Southampton URNUIn active service
P280Vosper Thornycroft1988Bristol URNUIn active service
P291Vosper Thornycroft1988London URNUIn active service
P292Vosper Thornycroft1988Liverpool URNUIn active service
P293Vosper Thornycroft1988Sussex URNUIn active service
P294Vosper Thornycroft1988Cambridge URNUIn active service
(ex-XSV Example)P165 (ex-A153)Watercraft Marine1985Northumbrian URNUIn active service
(ex-XSV Explorer)P164(ex-A154)Watercraft Marine1986Yorkshire URNUIn active service
(ex-XSV Express)P163 (ex-A163)Vosper Thornycroft1988Wales URNUIn active service
(ex-XSV Exploit)P167 (ex-A167)Vosper Thornycroft1988Birmingham URNUIn active service
P274, 1998Faslane Patrol Boat SquadronIn active service
P275Ailsa Shipbuilding Company1998Faslane Patrol Boat SquadronIn active service

  • - WWII equivalent
  • - the "Swift Boats"