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Random Commentator

It all sounds a bit confused to me. Type 26, Type 31 and the new logistic ships all seem to have similar capabilities to carry all these unmanned platforms. Right now, none of these unmanned platforms are in place and yet we are planning ships around them? We do know that the minesweeper platforms are terribly vulnerable and a Republican Guard speedboat can outrun one and they can just climb aboard and steal it. The final solution is going to have to be bigger and armed and Britain is going to have to have the balls to defend these boats rather than just surrendering like they did even with manned boats.


The only boat that surrendered was a rib. But yes in operations just short of open conflict the rules of engagement for protection of remote mine warfare boats will need carefully thinking through.

John Clark

Exactly, as embarrassing as that particular incident was, it most certainly wasn’t worth loosing sailors over in an exchange of fire.

Phillip Johnson

The gantry on the T26 is limited to 10 tonnes at sea and 15 tonnes alongside a wharf.
The T31 alcoves cannot carry anything bigger than a military grade RHIB.
As unmanned mine hunters develop the capabilities of the T26 and T31 are going to be topped out quite quickly.
Beside that there are simply too few of them to risk hanging around in anyway contested coastal waters.
This was almost certain to happen. I will however wait and see how ‘more survivable’ works out. One, it sounds like a great way to blow the budget and, two you will need 360 degree cover from an expanding collection of threats so that is going to involve more than a couple of 40mm stuck on the bow.

Whale Island Zookeeper

As unmanned mine hunters develop the capabilities of the T26 and T31 are going to be topped out quite quickly.

I don’t understand what you are saying. Could you please explain?


I think he is broadly agreeing with your other points. He is essentially saying that as MCM USVs become larger and more complex then they will quickly outgrow the limited capabilities that T26 and T31 have to deploy them.

Whale Island Zookeeper

I see thank you. But they shouldn’t be deployed from escorts anyway.

Whale Island Zookeeper

You can’t have a frigate sitting looking after drones as the clear miles of sea lanes and acres of anchorage. That isn’t their role. We don’t have the numbers.

Do you think these things are like a robot in sci-fi? They are not. What most of this is about is moving the MCM crew further back out of harm’s way.

Ships have davits yes. That is all.

Whale island zoo bomber

T26 MMB is far too small and you won’t send a £1bn ship on low tier missions when it is needed for far greater priority missions. T31 can’t have more than a RIB. As for FSS they are needed in more important places and are absolutely not designed for this, These unmanned platforms are in place in MHC Bk 1 and project wiston as well as demonstrators. Furthermore some of them are being produced in conjunction with france. The USV’s are not as vulnerable as you think, trying to board a high speed capable, crewed if needed, locked in many matters, platform than if constantly overwatched buy a protective force, Isn’t as easy as you think. Your last sentence is conjecture and waffle.

Last edited 23 days ago by Whale island zoo bomber

Why the MCM USV will be high speed capable?

Random Commentator

They are not ‘high speed’ – I see them almost every day and I know what they can do. They are certainly a lot slower than a Republican Guard speedboat and have no armour to prevent a bullet into the engine. Currently their only defence is a padlock on the cabin door. The final solution is going to have to have at least a remote weapon system with a 0.50 cal and will need to be bigger and heavier – no point building ships that can’t handle the bigger USVs that will be needed. Would be nice if they could handle a LCVP replacement too.

Tom W

This BMT / Qinetiq paper came to a similar conclusion 6 years ago…

Generational Shift: How technology is shaping a step change in the future of mine counter-measures


1957 all over again. How surface to air missiles were a ‘step change’ to air defence meaning most fighter jets out and ‘unmanned missiles were in.


It is easy with hindsight to comment on something 67 years ago, can you comment on something 67 years from now?


That these are being described as “non-complex warships” opens the possibility of them being built in foreign shipyards. The policy being that “complex warships” are built in the U.K.
This would be unfortunate, if it occurs, but given that British yards are so heavily booked with Type 26, Type 31, etc, this may be the only option to ensure the RN gets these ships in time.

An effective self-defence against both airborne and surface drones will be essential. Will be interesting to see what the RN chooses.


At bets they might have a medium gun system but i certainly in Hostile zones they’ll need to be escorted.


I seriously doubt that. A couple of 40mm Bofors like the T31s would make more sense.


Is that not a medium gun?


Not when it comes to naval guns. The main gun in the T26, at 5 inches/ 127mm, is classified as medium calibre.

A 40mm gun would be classified as medium calibre in the context of arming a fighting vehicle; eg, the ill-fated Warrior upgrade programme.


Suppose yeh. Though we don’t exactly have any bigger than 5 inch these days.

Random Commentator

There’s Belfast……


What? dismount them from Belfast and put them on T26?
Guns are more than just the barrel, what about the loading mechanism?
There are still a couple of 15-inch guns outside the Imperial War Museum, lol.

Last edited 21 days ago by Joe

I would put a 57/76 and 40 for staggered range.


Agreed, I think a copy of the T31s gun fit-out of a 57mm with 2 x 40mm would make the most sense.

Dave Wolfy

A “fit-out”?


Honestly I think that should become a pretty standard fit for all the large combatants.. amphibious vessels etc.


Having small autonomous boats sat on deck seems a very backward step, craning them into the water or having a dedicated ramp? Could they not be on davits in the hull either top deck akin to Albion/Bulwark, or in enclosed bays as Type 45/26. This would free up deck space for other needs?
It’s only a matter of time before Yemen realise that mining that sea channel would be a very effective way of deterring international shipping. I’m not sure this project can wait a half decade or more. Like with everything, it’s needed today, now.


Two reasons. One the superstructure isn’t big enough for davits or boat bays for all the boats. Two the planned system is much more flexible as the boats needed develop over time.
As to speed, realistically no amount of money could get a capability on line and deployed in less than 4 years. Plus money or the allocation of priority for money will always be an issue. This plan is going to take till the early mid 30’s, don’t pretend otherwise.


Fair enough.

Whale Island Zookeeper

Could they not be on davits in the hull either top deck akin to Albion/Bulwark, or in enclosed bays as Type 45/26.

No. These ships have other work to do. These drones aren’t self contained. You can’t just drop them over the side, tell them to go look for mines, and toddle off to do something else. MCM is complex. Technology isn’t that bright. There is a difference between looking at an object on the seafloor in the dark among other objects and a bot searching text on a database.


I imagined they were remote controlled from the operations bay, with a team working together?

Whale Island Zookeeper

I know where you are going with it. My point is that frigates and destroyers have other stuff to do. MCM hulls do other things too such as diver support. 🙂


Oh I meant on dedicated MCM motgerships with side bays/davits, like the other ships but not in those ones. ????

Whale Island Zookeeper

I see! 🙂

Whale island zoo bomber

It isn’t a backwards step as putting boats on a deck is far more flexible and easier than digging holes is a superstructure.


My problem is with low freeboard those USV will be damaged by any heavy seas.

Whale Island Zookeeper

comment image

comment image


£140m a ship doesn’t seem so bad when you consider Stirling cost £40m just for the ship.

Whale Island Zookeeper

It’s a ‘proper’ warship which will be available for tasks.

MCM ships are small. But on a cost per tonne they can be very expensive.


Yeah that’s what I imagined, but with maybe three boat bays each side?

Whale Island Zookeeper

Those drones are big. They have to carry enough batteries and / or engines to move them against current and wind to keep station. They have to be stable. They have to be accessible to be maintained. Um. This is where extra drones could be brought in. Imagine a task like clearing the Suez Canal for instance.

It’s OK to say the RN will use a ship or boat they find in theatre. But what if there is combat still going on? What if you don’t have a local base. What about damage control? And so on.

Random Commentator

The current MCM USVs are less than 30 feet long – they are not big!

Whale Island Zookeeper

Drones come in all sizes. Who knows what future systems the RN might acquire?

One of these for example is over 40ft long and nearly 14 tonnes in displacement.

comment image

You know what it is like to steer a boat in weather slowly don’t you?


The image at the top of the article makes it look like the RN is after something quite a bit bigger than the Dutch/Belgian class.

Whale Island Zookeeper

Stirling Castle is bigger. But the City class are a complete design and a ‘proper’ naval vessel.

Whale island zoo bomber

What is your definition of proper?
And how does that compensate for them being too small?
Because while they may be in your eyes a “proper naval vessel”,
Which isn’t true,
They are the opposite of proper for the RN.

Last edited 23 days ago by Whale island zoo bomber

or this , Singapores new MRCV
comment image.webp

The rear ramp , single or double seems to do away with ‘davits launching’ and their problems


Yeah, that Singapore ship seems good.

Whale island zoo bomber

Mission bay is still far too small, and As a combatant MRCV is far too expensive and resource intensive too for-fill the LSV role.


Its a design guide for a suitable ship. Like the T31 MRCV class were based on earlier types
Iver Huitfeldt-class and Absalon-class

Whale island zoo bomber

Too expensive, too small.

Whale island zoo bomber

Deck space of at least 1000m2 is needed to accommodate the USVs, UUVs, portable operations centre and supporting kit that makes up a mission module. In a live mine warfare operation covering a large area, to achieve the equivalent (and ideally better) effect than existing MCMVs, will require multiple USVs to be deployed. This demands a big deck with plenty of space for the toolkit.
Future USVs may evolve to be larger than the 12-15m boats of the first generation and the motherships will need the space to accommodate them


Keeper/ Bomber,

A 20ft ISO comes in at around a 16sqm area.
Add in the area covered by the boats and the handling frames to store and move them then space gets eaten up really quickly.

Deploying the boats and the support teams is going to require a fair few ISOs.
OPS Room – 2 containers.
Boat Maintenance workshop and spare parts – 4 containers at least. (Mechanical/electrical/hull workshops and spare parts storage)
Divers- Compressors, Workshop, Pot.-3 containers
Magazine- 2 containers at least
Comms -1 or 2 containers.

Some I haven’t thought of but using an FSU footprint would be a fair estimate…in which case it needs a tea boat crew room as well…

Add in the Drone Air component. Say 5 containers.
More comms, another ops room, maintenance and spares, deck launch area…more space gone

Thats say 18 isos already without the boats = 300 ish sq m already used up.

Hopefully the new boats will have accom in the hull or you will need all the accom ISOs , catering and food storage…which uses more space.

Supportive Bloke

If these ships are mission optimised why is the drone control not from within the ship….why on deck at all?

The thinking here seems a little messy to me.

Otherwise we will need the HMS Huge Class followed by HMS Unaffordable.


On deck has the advantage that it’s easy to swap between different drone types and their associated control systems. Sounds like the idea is for the ship to offer accommodation, heat/power/cooling, mobility, comms and protection for whatever equipment is needed at the time.


The Harrier is controlled from a couple of 20ft Iso containers. The containers and boat can be lifted and shifted to anywhere and onto any ship with a 60T crane and a low loader.

If you provide the control room as a permanent fit that will save space, but you will still need the container for other deployments not on the dedicated mothership.

Using the RAN ANZACS as a modular fit example. They had the comms fit for the ship in containers. The containers were upgraded modded ashore and then swapped out for the latest version as required. The old, removed containers went back for modding and upgrade. The ships capability was maintained without the need for costly and time-consuming upgrades on the vessel during maintenance and refits. All big wins!

However, …There is always a however…it didn’t work out as planned and they had issues with the interfaces onto the ship. It took some time to overcome and wasn’t deemed with hindsight to have been a great idea in that particular case. Comms fits should have been permanent.

To avoid that and maintain the modular principles you need to make sure you think about it and plan it out first and identify exactly what the requirement is to begin with. If you dont you will as you say end up with HMS Massive’s sister ships HMS Huge and HMS Unaffordable.

Whale Island Zookeeper

They had the comms fit for the ship in containers.

I remember the sign, ‘For Australian eyes only.’ on the outside.


Peregrine should be very affordable. If it’s not affordable for ISR, its primary duty, what will it deliver for T23s that the Castles could get cheaper or wouldn’t need at all? Buying some Camcopters or other similar class drones rather than leasing Peregrine capability could be looked into more carefully. We seem to pay over the odds for convenience packaging.

Whale island zoo bomber

Peregrine is Camcopter, just customised.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Navy Lookout

As always, a very interesting article by NL

Firstly, it is great to see the RN starting to think it right through: and thus learning at least some of the important lessons from their recent trials with Stirling Castle. As NL correctly says, that recent ship purchase was definitely “money well spent”.

However, overall, this is yet another example where the teams inside RN and DES are still operating in “peacetime mode”.

Not since 1990/91 has the RN operated MCM under heavy enemy fire. That was when our tiny little tupperware minesweepers and minehunters had large Iraqi Silkworm ASM launched at them……an occasion which (I am reliably informed) the voice radio channels used a lot of terminology not to be found in the official Nato radio-operators manuals – and thus the laundry had a hell of a lot of underwear to clean out afterwards…..

Therefore, all in all, this proposal still falls short of the “now very necessary requirements” needed for fighting a war in 2030…

  1. What is missing from this photo-montage is “the bleeding obvious” = LAND. Mine warfare is very often conducted – indeed is “almost always conducted” – within sight of a shoreline = which is often a very hostile shore. That fact alone – especially in this era of drones (ariel, surface and underwater) and also very-fast ASM’s and also suicide speedboats etc – must surely dictate that far more close-in self-defensive weaponary (air, sea, subsurface) be fitted to this type of ship. The RN needs to speak to Gunbuster….and take his expert advice….
  2. No helipad! What an earth are the RN design team ******* thinking of !!!!!! (totally cretinous!) Cabs are extremely useful for everything in littoral warfare = spotting mines, general transport, logistics, force protection, nipping out to the pub etc etc. A decent sized helipad is a must – not a nice to have! Uncrewed cabs and UAV’s have the same fundamental requirements…. You cannot ever expect to fight a proper near-future war without whirlybirds….either manned or unmanned…..large or small….
  3. It is great that a big crane is being included (Note to author: even if it has been missed off the big colour photomontage by NL!) However, please, please, please make sure it is specified to lift and handle everything nowadays needed for very effective inshore operations – so MCM, Mexefloats, large fuel bladders, LCVP’s, M-subs, loaded army workboats etc etc etc. Speak to Mr Macgregor first….
  4. Wrong type of bow. All the commercial vessel of this type use an X-Bow (or similar), for enhanced seakeeping, and especially for improving stability. Overall stability (around all three axis) is simply critical to the safe conduct of effective operations on this type of very large, and often very wet, open working deck. Please go and copy the very effective bow designs found on the Rolls Royce website (oil and gas support vessels).
  5. Accomodation – specified at “crew plus 100” – is simply “too tight”. Somebody seems to have forgotten that these recent trials with Sterling Castle have been short-term ones, and only conducted in the local and safe UK waters. However MCM operations are nearly always very long-term, so stores for high-endurance ops is a “must have”. Thus very many more stores will be needed for effective long-term ops. Furthermore, some operations, especially out in the hot Arabian gulf, will be potentially be hostile: and thus require more augementess and their own stores. If a team of bootnecks are needed for force protection (i.e. defending against ayatollahs in speedboats), a huge store for their RMC Weetabix packets will be essential. Storage space for very-bulky MCM gear is always at a premium.Therefore much more storage space now needs to be designed in: even if that means lengthening this ship’s hull.
  6. Range and fuel capacity. With a deep hull and also minimal crew accomodation contained below the waterline (i.e. minimised because of the naval damage control / surviveability requirements), there ought to be plenty of space for keeping more fuel.
  7. Not to be forgotten is the utility of these types of ships in peacetime HADR roles. Thus it should have the ability to lift LCVP and mexefloats and also hold plenty of HADR store (reference the Bay class over the past twenty years and – very recently and still ongoing – the USN efforts off Gazza).
  8. Also, not to be forgotten is the need forward repair of battle damage. This was a task very sucessfully performed by Diligence back in 1982, and (in peacetime) for three decades afterwards (i.e. before it was pensioned off). The big crane and dynamic positioning and some very big fenders always comes in very handy for a “kwikfit fitter”….
  9. MCM has very often required clearance divers. So – in an era when Waymo driverless cars can still drive into stationary wooden poles at the roadside – I strongly suspect that naval MCM by ROV and USV will still need a bit of occasional help from BI (Biological Intelligence). Therefore I strongly suspect that this ship really needs a diving moonpool, and (ideally) also a decompression chamber, added to it
  10. Being a long-term operational asset deployed in a foward theatre, this would be an ideal ship for housing a forward deployed Role 2 medical centre. So two operating threatres and twenty five comfortable beds, please….not forgetting the nurse with nice legs…..
  11. Finally, overall this is yet another classic case of one team inside the RN not talking to another team inside the RN……. Quite noticeably, this article does not pick up the very obvious similarities (in all aspects of concept, size and equipment fit etc) of this ship’s concept design with HMS Proteus, which is undertaking trials for seabed warfare. Accordingly, this ship’s conceptual design really ough to be modified, such that it can effctively do all types of remote operations – at all depths.So MCM above the waves and right down to ROV deep below (and please remember: some non-horny types of sea mines, often fitted with homing torpedos, lie on the seabed…)
  12. Finally: is the ship going to be classified by Lloyds Register for operating in the tropics and the Pacific and the Arctic? (i.e. the three most-likely near-future operational theatres for MCM)

Accordingly, overall, the RN would be doing itself a very big favour by fully combining all of these “very-similar” operational requirements” . Then just a single class of (let’s say) 4 or 5 ships of this size and type could do “almost everything” with naval ROV’s and USV and UUV’s – both above and below the waves (so MCM, cables, diving, seabed, amphibious support, occasional HADR etc).

Any MCM ship must also be able to properly defend itself whilst it is out “doing the business” – especially in today’s very hostile littoral battlespaces.

Big Hint. Please make it longer: by adding more bulk storage space, diving facilities, general accomodation and – especially importantly – a 30m helipad. I would propose adding an additional hull section, midway between the superstructure and front of the open working deck, thus doing the whole job properly….

Regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

PS Just remember how we got here…... in 2017, they paid Babcock a lot of money. Babcock then provided MOD with a (very expensive) concept design for an 80m OPV, one with a stern slipway. That “proposed ship” – and I have to add – “not unexpectedly” – turned out to be “inherently unstable” when tried to launch even a very small MCM USV in anything other than a flat calm!


That’s one hell of a rant about a non-official image.






Standard operating procedure for Pete…

Jack me dhobie bucket

I was on build project team and operated 8 X Bow vessels. Not many built nowadays. Yes you can steam through rough weather. Yes there are some fuel savings and on crew change day you will likely be the only vessel with a green deck for Helo ops. But anything that comes at you from any direction othe than ahead you roll like a pig just like any other OSV hull.
If they get the design right ops room will not need to be loaded on deck as this can be within the superstructure. For what they have now they just need a half deck to put ops and maint containers.

Whale Island Zookeeper
Whale island zoo bomber

too small.

Deck space of at least 1000m2 is needed to accommodate the USVs, UUVs, portable operations centre and supporting kit that makes up a mission module. In a live mine warfare operation covering a large area, to achieve the equivalent (and ideally better) effect than existing MCMVs, will require multiple USVs to be deployed. This demands a big deck with plenty of space for the toolkit.
Future USVs may evolve to be larger than the 12-15m boats of the first generation and the motherships will need  the space to accomodate them

Last edited 23 days ago by Whale island zoo bomber
Whale Island Zookeeper

Too small? What is too small? I am showing how large Japanese drones are compared to their newest MCM class. How can that be too small? They are as big as they are…….

I think you are bot.

Whale island zoo bomber

I thought you were suggesting the japanese design for the LSV’s.


Nice design I think.

  • MHC USV will be larger in future = larger ship be needed, I agree. Good sea keeping and accommodation will be also good for retention of crew.
  • History says 99.9% of MCM tasks are done in peace time (in other words, MCM is the only task which is actively “fighting” even after war). In such a peace time, heavy weapon just increased maintenance, reduces seagoing days, and degrade the MCM capability. Some drone attack might exist. So, “no so great, but so-so” level armament be needed. When working on hostile water, there shall be frigates there. No problem. Doing MCM tasks in hostile water without high-grade escort is nonsense.
  • Those ships will bring the Bay LSD on Kipion back to amphibious tasks, which is very much needed.

By the time these are in service the Bays will be close to the end of their U.K. service.

Whale island zoo bomber

And thus stop drawing in MRSS for kipon

Whale Island Zookeeper

I think these are just about the right size for Appledore.

Whale island zoo bomber

Maybe the right size for Appledore, but too small for the RN.

Deck space of at least 1000m2 is needed to accommodate the USVs, UUVs, portable operations centre and supporting kit that makes up a mission module. In a live mine warfare operation covering a large area, to achieve the equivalent (and ideally better) effect than existing MCMVs, will require multiple USVs to be deployed. This demands a big deck with plenty of space for the toolkit.

Future USVs may evolve to be larger than the 12-15m boats of the first generation and the motherships will need the space to accomodate them

Whale Island Zookeeper

Not really interested in any thing you say. Do you think you are being clever slightly altering my username? I know who you are.

I am not saying the RN should buy this design. I am offering it up as an example of what we should be looking at.


Seems like emphasis will be on an open deck space, to allow for a variety of future platforms.

Whale Island Zookeeper

Because there are lots of rig support vessels designs out there. What about maintenance? What about protecting them from the sea and the weather?

Seems like the emphasis is on cheapness.


I don’t see how that’s to do with cheapness. Having an enclosed bay designed for a specific craft will limit how far you can upgrade the autonomic platforms used by the vessel.


Agreed, the open deck gives a huge amount of flexibility. And oil rig support vessels are incredibly versatile designs with amazing capabilities.

Open decks aren’t feasible on frigates though, which is why they have an enclosed bay instead.

Whale Island Zookeeper

I am slightly amazed. Normally here persons are saying that frigates can carry all sorts of stuff in their ‘mission bays’. Now the RN says it wants to buy some open decked ships and all of a sudden everybody is telling me these drones are going to get larger and larger and larger and larger…………….

There will come a point where a ship can’t carry more than one drone. The technology within the drone probably won’t get any larger. The main driver is station keeping; that is keeping itself in position as it ‘sweeps’.

Buying a large rig support design and modding it in terms of adding extra comms etc. will be a lot cheaper than designing a bespoke true warship keel upwards.

The Dutch, Belgian, and French navies aren’t stupid.

David MacDonald

Good but, in an ideal word, we need more than three and certainly more than 6 mission systems. Sadly we don’t live in such a world and three new vessels is a lot better than one old one. .

To go off at a slight tangent, after I left the RN, I spent some time in the RNR and, a the WEO of my RNR unit I had a relatively large number of degaussing Wrens reporting to me. They were splendid ladies and very dedicated. I assume there are still degaussing (and acoustic signature) ranges round the coast but does the RNR still have a role in “manning” these?

Whale island zoo bomber

I agree, more ships should be acquired, and not just more Mission systems, but a higher ratio of Mission systems per hull. Add additional systems for attrition, reasonable IMO because part of the USV approach selling point is more acceptable to lose with no loss of human life, and thus more attriatble. Add on additional one or two for base ops then it will be pretty good

Random Commentator

I am more worried about them being captured and then countermeasures being developed for the technology and physical destruction of the platforms. I agree that we must accept that there will be losses and they may be ‘semi-expendable’.


Qinetiq deal with ranges nowadays. Thats UK based ones and the transportable version for use outside the UK.

David MacDonald

Thank you. I salute may one time RNR Degaussing Wrens who will, no doubt, be grannies now.


Good that the ambition is still there for some
purpose built mother-ships, but 4 (with Stirling Castle presumably retained for UK tasks) doesn’t feel enough considering how many MCM vessels they are indirectly replacing.

Have said it many times but if the B2 Rivers are eventually mostly brought back to the UK to replace the B1’s then a MCM/OPV platform (at least 6 or 8) could undertake a lot of the day-day presence and constabulary roles whilst fielding autonomous MCM systems.

An OPV doesn’t need to be sleek and rakish like the Rivers!


I mean being sleek doesn’t cost anymore.
But also are you talking about getting another platform?

Last edited 23 days ago by Hugo
Simon m

I’m not sure the best use of a navy (however good they are at it) is fishery protection & law enforcement. IMO This should be a civilian task.
Especially as a river 2 costs £138m with circa 40 crew Vs a border force/customs & excise or similar cutter at around £4.3m with a crew of 12.


Forget the RFA crewing these, Sterling Castle and Proteus can’t be crewed already without it involving tying up replenishment ships which has to be their priority.

Whale island zoo bomber

The article states they will be RN flagged.


So we all know budgets are tight and things have changed, but I look at a plan for 3 vessels, and think back to my time in the Gulf during the mid-80’s on MCM in HMS Bicester, HMS Herald (MCM Command and Support) and RFA Diligence (MCM Command and Support) and just can’t get past that number…....3……

At the height of the Cold War when we decided to update, take MCM seriously and replace the Ton class, we had:

  • 13 Hunt Class multi-role (Hunter / sweeper) – 6 in active service
  • 15 Sandown Class single role mine hunters (all decommissioned)
  • 12 River Class RNR “armed team deep sweep” minesweepers (decommissioned in the 90’s)

So 6 x Hunt’s still in commission and we are going to be replaced 6 full sets (?) of remote boats and ROV’s ? And only 3 ships that can deploy them? So 1 in refit, 1 in training and 1 available for ops… seems a of a skinny capability….???

If we had the cash I would love to see at least 6 BMT Venari class ships, which are fully able to River class OPV role, and maybe even inshore / shallow water ASW ?


That design doesn’t have the working deck space they want. But certainly seems like more than 3 are needed. But I imagine they’ll only be fulfilling the Gulf role and occasion Nato taskings

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


This BMT Venari 85 you have referred to in your post of today was/is the very same one that I criticised yesterday (i.e. right at the end of my very long post of yesterday)

This ship would have became very unstable (and probably turn turtle) whenever it tried to launch one of these very big and heavy MCM USV’s (Note: either by crane, or by stern slipway).

That is why that “plan A” was aborted in 2018.

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


So BMT, the UKs premier naval architect’s, with more compute power than your average multi-national, and access to all kind of wave tanks etc, cannot design a stable hull form? @peter the irate taxpayer, I would love to know your source for that statement. I mean for a start the Venari graphics don’t show a stern slipway, but rather davits for the current size MCM workboats? So unless you are a BMT employee and can emphatically state this is your own experience, I am talking it with a large amount of salt that I scrapped off my Foulies.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


My key source for my earlier statement is fact, BMT’s own website…

I shall now give you the background history, and also the very approximate timeline, as to what happened.

  1. RN starts looking at remote operations for MCM. It starts to get really quite serious about this soon being possible, and thus “soon becoming a reality”, in (very roughly) about 2010.
  2. Their idea back then was that lots and lots of very small remotely controlled ships would be running about – often totally autonomously – detecting and then blowing up enemy mines.
  3. Thus their idea was that swarms of these remoted-controlled small boats would, quite soon, completely replace all of the manned “tupperware” RN MCM fleet.
  4. At that time, these small boats were to be based on the proven hull already used – and I have to now add “very sucessfully” – for building the British Army’s manned river workboats.
  5. However several people in “industry” pointed out to them that these proposed boats (i.e. for remote MCM) were simply far too small for any effective MCM operations: especially in quite-rough coastal waters.
  6. It was very very obvious (to many) that these first-ever USV’s simply could not ever carry the necessary “operational payloads”, especially in rough seas.
  7. Development of remote MCM was then authorised and funded. This took several years to bring to fruition…
  8. So much later on, in approx 2015/16, the idea of a RN MCM mothership was first being seriously floated (please excuse the pun).
  9. By then, these small unmanned USV / MCM boats were still being very extensively trialed. However these trials were very very focused on getting the boats very-complex electronic command and control systems to work properly.
  10. Overall these trials were simply not what I would call “realistic simulations of real world operations”.
  11. Then, in 2017, BMT came up with its OPV 80m design. This was extensively publicised, and commented upon by Navy Lookout (Note: this is the one in your photo directly above). BMT were also trying to sell it overseas…
  12. BMT SALVAS utility auxiliary ship
  13. Then, just a year later in 2018, there was the MCM study by Rigby and others (Note: recently posted here (by others) on Navy Lookout – so available directly above)
  14. BMT got paid a lot of money for this study, by their co-authors (the wonder-boys working at double zero six and three-quarters (aka Quinetiq)).
  15. Franky this BMT-Quinetiq study repeated a lot of dross: i.e. stuff that was already well known.
  16. Overall, this study was simply a quite-blatent attempt to justify their BMT 80 OPV design to soon be selected by the RN = for operating its brand-spanking-new MCM-USV’s.
  17. That would undoubtely help sell more BMT OPV’s overseas….
  18. Please note, right at the very end of the Rigby paper, a stern shot image is included – and this one still clearly shows the stern-mounted crane on the ship.
  • INEC 2018 Paper 099 Rigby Mine Warfare 


  1. However BMT soon realised that the MCM-USV’s were going to get even larger and heavier = and so could not be lifted by their crane / davits (i.e. causing the forementioned ship stability issue)
  2. … BMT then (quite-craftily) added a slipway into their design……
  3. BMT SALVAS® Utility Auxiliary Ship
  4. Please note the very similar BMT project numbers, names etc etc etc.
  5. This was all very carefully labelled up ….to carefully conceal the simple fact that the “revised” vessel – now one with both a crane and a slipway – was in fact a substantially larger and heavier ship than the 80m version they had crowed about just a year earlier (i.e. this has happened to their design because of all of the stability issues during launching and recovery of heavy USV’s)
  6. However, a bit later, it soon was realised that – yet again – that the RN’s unmanned USV’s were becoming so heavy that even the rear slipway did not work…..
  • Hence my comment in Navy Lookout this morning...


  1. Then there was a complete rethink ….one delayed by Brexit, pandemic and a war in Europe..
  2. … the BMT OPV was soon “quietly dropped”
  3. … then there the quite-recent decision by the RN to buy Sterling Castle… to try out in practice the realities of lifting and operating these much larger (and, crucially, much heavier) USV’s.
  4. Hence, just recently, yet another decision has been taken- yet again to “Go Large” = because even Sterling Castle has now been found to be too small….


The BMT “excuse” has been that the RN’s MCM USV’s have increased in size (and especially weight): so increasing from the orginally proposed 10-12m long of a decade ago, now up to a (much heavier) 15-20m long.


Once again, the fiasco of RN MCM procurement over the past several years simply proves the folly of one ever trying to design a big ship before knowing (and confirming with MOD /RN) what its key payload will be … also shows up the folly of the RN getting the buffons at Quinetiq too-involved..


Thus the simple truth of the matter is that MOD/ Quinetiq/ RN have paid out – actually paid out several times over during the past several years – for several incremental changes to an “always-very-piss-poor” BMT OPV design: i.e. to try to make it into a MCM mothership.

Frankly many others had always though that using an 80m OPV for remotely operated MCM mothership was, right from the very outset, a crap idea.

Many other half-competent naval architects (naval design authorities) could have “got it right first time” (i.e. way back in 2016/17).

So overall – yes, I will dispute your comment that “BMT are the best”.

Regards Peter (Irate Taxayer)

PS. And I will point out that stability calculations, those used for designing large ships, were in existence (and being reguarly used by naval architects) long before the silicone chip was invented…..


Do the same availability calc you use for Hunts and you have 2 available for use. You cannot fit a Hunt in the back of a C17 and deploy it to where its needed in a couple of days. The KIPION boats take a month to transit.
You can deploy the boats quickly which is a massive plus and they use less people.


Deploy them where exactly? To a clear a friendly harbour? OK, cool capability, but it does not need to be the entire capability does it? What about the choke point that cannot be reached by deploying them from shore?

My point was we at one thought we needed 28 active MCMV’s – which would have given minimum of 9 available for ops, given the Hunt’s were a bit fragile at times, with non-magnetic engines etc, we managed pretty good availability rates in the gulf when money was made available for support and spares.

So, like I said, budgets rule again, 3 MCM Motherships seems a little pathetic.

Whale Island Zookeeper

If you have enough C17 or A400m available to do a lift in one go. And less personnel if you are going somewhere friendly and stable. What if you need to say move in a galley, force protection, fuel, vehicles, accommodation, etc?

Last edited 22 days ago by Whale Island Zookeeper

What like in …Bahrain.
Before UKNSF was built and it wasnt that long ago , everyone lived out. Subies and meal allowances for all living in apartments. That was also during the troubles in 2011.

FSU containers sat in the GAC warehouse on the jetty.
Everything was contracted in.
FP was provided by the host nation and still is to some extent.
BDF provide the gate guards to the wider military area.
There is currently a Patriot battery sat in MS protecting the area!
Now a UK Army team provide UKNSF gate duties.

If you are going to do it from ashore do it in a permissive environment. If its not then air lift it to a ship be it RFA, RN or STUFT in the nearest friendly port so you dont need to wait for the specialist ship to trundle out to the area.

Nobody is going to be doing real MCMV against actual mines in a conflict on Hunts, Sandowns, Avengers or with boats in an area that they don’t for the most part control with big grey war canoe back up.

Whale Island Zookeeper

You would only want to do ‘real MCM’ if you were intending to do something ashore or manoeuvre through a choke point where you didn’t control at least one side. So there would be already be GGWC in theatre doing what ever they do. And they would be too busy doing that to do MCM.

And the UK has been in the Gulf for decades. So you are in a benign area in Bahrain.

Crisis can happen anywhere.

I understand what you are saying. But………..


Well we did real world MCM, in a non-permissive, often high threat environment in the Gulf in Hunts with add-on chaff launchers and 20mm cannon, with “big ships” providing cover from outside of the “minefield” and thank goodness the Iranian’s never plinked a Hunt, and a T22 or 42 never accidently ran into a mine.

I can’t find a good map of the areas where bottom tethered mines were dropped / laid, but I think most of them would be out of remote control radio link from Jebel Ali (Port of Dubai), Sharjah or Ras Al-Kaimah, but what is the range of the link in a contested spectrum environment? I have no idea!

Does MCM ops require friendly sea control and air superiority? Probably, but isn’t that a different conversation than whether remote systems are deployed from shore or ship? And whether we can fly out enough kit to equip a ship that happens to be in the right place at the right time, without MCM kit onboard….?

Whale Island Zookeeper

At 0430 (Saudi Arabian time) on 18 February 1991, the USS Tripoli (LPH-10), an amphibious assault ship, was damaged by a moored contact mine in the northern Gulf. She was carrying mine countermeasures helicopters and directing a fleet of U.S. and British surface minesweepers and minehunters when she hit the mine.
The mine, which contained about 300 pounds of explosive, ripped a 16-by-20 foot hole, ten feet below the water line, on the ship’s forward starboard side. Three compartments on three decks were flooded and the ship went dead in the water. Four crewmen were injured in the 18,000-ton vessel, which had Ma­rine units embarked.

The moored minefield in which the ship found herself ap­peared to have been laid in three separate mile-long rows across the shipping channel. At least 22 mines were found, although the total number in the minefield has not been reported. The entire helicopter mine-countermeasures operation was discontinued indefinitely and the Tripoli was taken to a drydock in Bahrain for further inspection and preliminary repair.

Whale Island Zookeeper

comment image

Whale Island Zookeeper

To be honest I wasn’t quite sure what he was driving at. The RN is in Bahrain because Bahrain want the RN there.

My point is what if you needed to do MCM somewhere where you may have permission to be based ashore but it isn’t safe and there is no infrastructure. How do you get stuff there? What about a hull to act as ‘mother’ and so on? Never mind if you don’t have safe base near by……

Last edited 20 days ago by Whale Island Zookeeper
Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Wlale Island Zookeeper

You beat me yo it … (by refering to the US Tripoli)


  1. At the time, the Tripoli was the flagship of the USN’s very big minesweeping task force = so this one was franking “rather embarrassing”
  2. The fact that the Iraqi sea mines were not cleared basically prevented the US marines from conducting the big amphibious operation that they really wanted: storming up onto the beaches of Kuwait.
  3. Also worth remembering that by this point in Gulf War 1 the allied forces had total air supremacy – and yet that had not stopped these mines being laid: and lying undetected

reagrds Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


Sounds great!. But there’s no money. And no crews…. Sad State of affairs.

Simon m

Indeed, but we can’t just stop everything on the current state of recruitment & retention.
Otherwise when we hopefully fix the issues they’ll be nothing to crew.
As for no money – I don’t think it’s as bad as made out but we’ll see.
Otherwise just give up. Maybe you could draft a piece of paper to give mister Putin?

Bob M

The problem in shedding a capability in anticipation of the money being available for the replacement “later” is lining oneself open to disappointment. The RN has willingly divested itself of a world beating capability on the assumption that there’ll be “jam tomorrow”. I fear that this may turn out to be a big mistake. When money is extremely tight as it will be after the election and there are other big ticket items queuing up for funding, something as unglamorous as mine hunting will I predict be very much at the back of the queue. I do hope I’m wrong, only time will tell.

Simon m

The key element is the autonomous systems already being delivered? A few ships to put them on not huge in the context of FSS & MRSS.
It maybe back of the queue, but also easiest to fund. So I hope you are wrong or if we can’t afford them we will be in a terrible state.
But at the end of the day the RN will make the best of it.

Bob M

Good morning Simon, I do so hope that I’m required in short order to eat my words as the ability to keep the sea free of mines is fundamental to any defence strategy, but is criminally neglected. It is for that reason I am so concerned that the UK has decided to “gap” a capability. The concept of gaping a capability (RAF AEW for example) is both arrogant and foolish. As it implies the capability is not required when the decision is taken. Providing the bean counters the perfect excuse to completely chop or dramatically reduce the follow-on. UK defence is littered with examples, the latest being the reduction from five to three Wedgetails.

Simon m

Indeed point taken some extremely poor decisions have been taken! I hope, but remain unconvinced a new labour government will do better!

Whale Island Zookeeper

At the end of the Cold War the RN did the following very well; MCM, ASW, submarine warfare, and light amphibious warfare. Now we have 140,000 tonnes of aviation deck and 35 fighters-sort-of-ish.

Man Jacovus

What exactly is the difference between a “new” mine hunter and a “new-build” mine hunter? Thanks.

Last edited 23 days ago by Man Jacovus

New build, means what it says: newly built, built for the purpose. New just means new to the Navy, and can either be newly built or could be a repurposed/conversion ship. As far as I am aware RN are buying new-build mine hunters, semi-autonomous drones, but the motherships may be conversions, as was Stirling Castle.


The overall plan to build some mothership makes sense, but there are two obvious issues:

  1. The chart implies yet another capability gap, with MCMV being retired before these are built.
  2. It seems madness not retaining the few MCMVs we have left, because although they want to keep people out of harms way, at some point, somewhere, people will need to get into harms way and having a few GRP hulled boats will be immensely useful.

I really struggle to see the logic of getting rid of MCMVs: they are actually very hard to break up (hence they have been gifted to other navies) and their operational cost in the scheme of things is tiny. Then you have all the good stuff about command experience etc. these small boats give. Even if we just retained the Hunt class boats into the late 2030s whilst we truly get to grips with the autonomous systems.

There is a wider issues across the forces where big expensive assets are being disposed of to generate tiny OPEX savings. Even a big expensive ship at full readiness like HMS Albion will cost £20-30m a year to run, but £500m+ to build. We have these assets, we should keep them.


This is quite hilarious really. If we are defending the NorthSea infrastructure we are going to need ships rather than boats. The sea gets bumpy. Maybe a simplified River OPV would do the job armed with 40mm and the rest. If you churned them out at 2 per year from Appledore and the Clyde you might be getting somewhere. My guess is it needs a stern ramp as well as crane to offload 20 tons or so. Its all anyones guess at which point you need manned vessels. Steel or plastic?
4 is never a good number. Try doubling it.


Article says though they need alot of deck space, and the river definitely doesn’t have more than Stirling.


P2000s were used as MCM motherships in BALTOPS this year, so I suppose there are motherships and there are motherships.


The environment is sea mines and air drones combined, sea drones? All ships now have to be able deal with drones. Good to acknowledge the problem.

Random Commentator

It’s interesting that there’s absolutely no mention anywhere of laying mines as opposed to sweeping them. I’m not sure either the navy or RAF actually has any active mine types now but in a future conflict they would be essential for blocking narrow passages around the Baltic, Indonesia or the South China Sea.

Whale Island Zookeeper

The Ozzies are buying mines. It would be worth them keep some conventional boats just for that…….

The Koreans have minelayers. And the Poles have some too, though they double as transports.


The Baltic is now a NATO lake now; thanks to Putin encouraging Sweden and Finland to join the club. In any future conflict any enemy vessel won’t last long there.

The RN doesn’t have any mines and has no plans on purchasing them. They are an indiscriminate weapon, like land mines, that don’t differentiate between friend, foe, or innocent civilian long after a conflict is over. Similarly we prefer precision air-strikes to avoid collateral damage rather than carpet bombing large areas indiscriminately.

Random Commentator

I thought you programme modern mines to detect particular signatures etc – you certainly can with some land mines – definitely not indiscriminate!


Please do supply a link to these programmed land mines.
My understanding is that ‘smart mines’ are still in development and they can’t detect ‘enemy signatures’, they’re only smart in that they can either self-destruct or self-deactivate.

Influence mines are a small subset of the mines that are used, I doubt any of the 150 laid by the Houthis (with zero kills) are on par with the BAE Stonefish. But even with this a line is being crossed as there is no ‘man in the loop’ to confirm a target is correctly identified. Which is why we don’t have unmanned airborne drones choosing their own targets, no matter how clever their AI.

Random Commentator

Lots of examples of these – Italy, Turkey deploying theirs too.


You’re deflecting, those aren’t land mines, they are naval mines. I gave an example of a programmable naval mine myself, the BAE Stonefish.
I asked for a link to the land mines that can be programmed for particular signatures.

Random Commentator
Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


“The Baltic is now a NATO lake now…”

I afraid to say that Royal Navy, and other Nato navies, simply do not agree with you….

NATO has thought, for the past several years, that Russia could easily lay some mines (quite possibly covertly), and/or operate few quiet conventionally powered submarines inside the Baltic: and not be detected by NATO whilst doing so.

Accordingly, the planning for the Army’s logistics and reinforcements that might soon need to be sent to the “Eastern Front” is now all being based on the key asumption that the only “safe ports and sea lanes” are to found on this side of the Skaagerek / Kattegutt (i.e. ports in Belgium, Netherlands and western Germany).

Thus our planning is assuming that moving the Army’s equipment forward will be overland, by road and (increasingly) using rail.

This is one example, from Sky news several years ago:

Army moves tanks through Channel Tunnel during secret exercise | UK News | Sky News

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Note: And the sheer difficulties in effectively patrolling even the limited expanse of Baltic Sea can best be illustrated by the simple fact that we still do not know “for certain” who blew up the Nordstream gas pipelines over two years ago.

Whale Island Zookeeper

The Army actually used rail more than ‘road marches’ for decades.

There is a fascinating (minor) school of thought in Sweden that many of the mysterious submarines belonged to the West not the USSR.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)

Whale Island Zookeeper

  1. I am fully aware that the British Army used rail, for many decades, during Cold War One.
  2. However, for about twenty years, up until about 2015, using the railways for military manouveres definitely went “right-out-of-fashion”.
  3. Indeed, way back in those now long-forgotten days of the first cold war, BAOR used to have an entire regiment of railway troops based over in Germany. This unit was fully dedicated to operating and maintaining all of the UK / Army owned military rail vehicles.
  4. If I remember correctly, they had tank transporters, explosive wagons, several troop trains, two commanders trains (so first class, with a smoking room and a posh dining car (with white napkins)) and even a dozen fully-equipped ambulance trains.
  5. Strictly for training purposes, BOAR also had a superb model railway!
  6. With regards to the British Army on manouveres, I recommend that you put on your anorak before you view this video. It was taken about a month ago in Germany. It is, I am told, very popular on that modern Youtube thingy.
  7. What is really sad is that the British Army’s armoured fighting vehicles which are shown in this video are the Bulldog’s (aka FV432’s). These are about the same age and antiquity as I am … so well past it in terms of their fighing efficency (and especially lacking in quick manouverability!)
  8. Overall, I feel that this video is a very sad indictment of the UK’s ability to defend itself, and its allies, during the next (coming soon) war….

Bing Videos

One final note about trains. Back in 2022, when Ukrainian State Railways were suffering very heavy and very prolonged attack from Russian aircraft, missiles and drones etc – and were also simultaneously evacuating millions of their own civilians towards the West – they were far more reliable and punctual than our own British Railways were during that very-same year!


  • So, before I get told off by the editor of NL, I had better return to the topic in hand …….underwater battlespaces.


The latest Intelligence Update on the Nordstream Pipeline Attacks

  • Readers of Navy Lookout may well be wondering why HMS Proteus is being rushed ino service so quickly (i.e. for seabed warfare).
  • The really fascinating (however still not yet offically confirmed) school of thought within very-well-informed intelligence circles within Whitehall is that it was actually a mainstream (and already very well known) Swedish political group which had covertly attacked those two Nordstream gas pipelines, using home-made explosives, back in 2022.
  • The basis of this latest intelligence is that the SSV protest movement (note 1) has been prattling on about the urgent need to remove all oil and gas infrastructure from the face of Planet Earth for several years.
  • So, then = two very big gas pipelines – both coincidentially located very near to the orginal hometown of this world-wide protest movement – are suddenly demolished by large explosions…..
  • and immediately afterwards, various “false flags” are then raised – often by environmentally active youngsters on their social media – spectulating which nation-state might be responsible..
  • and so, simply because I can never disclose my own intelligence sources …. the readers of Navy Lookout are “invited to draw their own conclusions”….as to whom was really responsible for those attacks on the two Nordstream pipelines.

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)

Note 1

TLA translator “SSV” = Short Swedish Vegetarians – aka Greta’s Gang.

Whale Island Zookeeper

Everybody knows who did it. He stood in front of cameras and told the world it was going to happen.

Only the bereft of brain doubt it. And some even make excuses for them.

One of the stupidest acts ever in international relations perhaps of all time.


Since Sweden and Finland joined NATO air-cover over the Baltic is almost total. Why are you talking about navies, in a confined body as a the Baltic you use aircraft to kill ships – using your own ships is unnecessarily risky.
So no, the Baltic would not be a happy hunting ground for Russian submarines, there would be nothing to hunt. Even the Russians know this, which is why they have a single solitary Kilo in the Baltic Fleet.

Reinforcing Europe would obviously been done across the Channel. Fastest way across water.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


It is quite obvious that over the last two years that Russian anti-aircraft systems (and indeed those much-older Soviet era systems still being operated by Ukraine itself) have proved to be remarkably effective at taking out aircraft (especially large ones!) over the land battlefield

For example, their long-range S300 has a “pretty fearsum” reputation

Accordingly, you are “probably wrong” to assume that the airspace over the Baltic will be a “permissive” (i.e. uncontested) environment for any type of Nato martime patrol aircraft (be those either large or small, manned or uncrewed flying machines).

The use of small submarines and minefields is all about denial of the sea areas.

Therefore, even the threat of using mines and /or submarines in the Baltic Sea would cause many problems to the civilian trading routes between the three small Baltic states and Sweden and (especially) Finland.

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


The question is… in any future conflict, are unmanned surface kamikaze drones going to be a greater threat than mines?…

The Houthis have sunk two ships so far, one with a ballistic missile but the other with a surface drone. We’ve also seen Ukraine causing mayhem with surface drones, damaging the Kerch Bridge and sinking/damaging elements of the Black Sea Fleet.
Now mines can be seeded to deny area access, and remain an indefinite threat. Whereas surface drones are currently launched against specific targets.
But it won’t be long before someone develops surface drones that can loiter for days or weeks. Of course on the surface they are vulnerable, but the next evolution will be sub-surface drones that will periodically surface or extend a receiver above the water to receive target packages.


Isn’t what you need to overwatch a gaggle of mine-bots just a Wildcat….?

Random Commentator

For sustained operations you’d need 4-5 Wildcats to keep 1 in the air 24/7. Also, most operations are close to land and Wildcat is not survivable in even a medium threat area.

Whale Island Zookeeper

You have cameras and other sensors mounted on the drone. It will tell ‘mother’ where it is. There is no need for something to fly above to provide over watch.


This concept does highlight the paradox of unmanned systems in the marine environment.

While USV/UUV can be widely dispersed force multipliers, the demands for larger mother ships result in a SPOF. Albeit these can be stationed further back, it does rather put a lot of eggs in one basket.

Compare to the ever smaller UAV which (for the most part) can be deployed on land from numerous technicals, Giving the benefits of dispersal and concealment to the remote operators also.

Note in Ukraine, the fundamental shift from (initially highly successful) TB2 towards much more numerous expendables, as Bayraktar became largely untenable in a contested environment.

Last edited 21 days ago by Ben Robins

BMT have an existing design, the Venari 85 concept. It is specifically designed to be modular and adaptable for this role.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


Please see the lenghtly comments I posted a couple of days ago (above, in reply to Jed).

These explain, in some details, why the BMT Venrai 85 is not suitable for lauanching and recovering such large and heavy USV’s

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


Thanks, that was an interesting read. Given the MoD’s propensity for changing their minds, perhaps it still may be considered for a smaller role in the same way we had multiple platforms such as the Sandown, Hunt and Castle class. One larger vessel for larger USV’s, one smaller for the great variety of USV’s, UAV’s and UUV’s. Smaller could mean more, which means a wider net, covering a greater area and are smaller targets. Just a bit of thinking outside the box and keeping options open.

Irate Taxpayer (Peter)


I am pleased that you found my post useful

My own thoughts are that, given the current state of play with the ongoing (slow) development of the unmanned boats, that the best way foward will be:

  1. That the RN quickly introduces into service a few motherships and the smallest new MCM-USV’s. These motherships should be based on a civilian OSV (i.e. Sterling Class). These would be used to launch the smaller USV’s operationally, however only in and around the UK. That will nicely cover the requirement for “minehunting in a permissive environment”.
  2. That will allow the retirement of the smaller and older minesweepers / minehunters.
  3. Crucially, it will allow the “operational development and training across all aspects; so motherships; remote controlled small boats, small UUV’s etc Most importantly; it will test out in the “real world” the communications links. It will also give realistic crew training and development on the new minehunting equipment.
  4. Deploying some of these smaller remote minehunters by air and road transport ought to be further developed: and then properly tested operationally
  5. However I stll feel that the RN has a hell of a lot more work yet to do on developing its ships, boats etc – and especiallly its tactics – for “minehunting in a hostile and contested envirionment“: i.e. the situation when some nasty ba******d is aiming bullets, bombs, mssile and drones at one’s “floating abode”.
  6. Therefore I believe that some of the larger and more capable existing ships need to be kept on, at least for the next five to seven years.
  7. The key to the RN’s future “expeditionary” minehunting capability will be it developing a MCM mothership that can operate in a hostle and contested littoral (coastal) battlespace. I haven’t seen that proposed yet….

regards Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


Perhaps another option would be to either use existing platforms under a STUFT type agreement, although the difficulty would be finding one with a 1000ft operating deck. An alternative for the longer term would be to partner with another nation, either European of the US, to develop something like the vessel at the link below.
Portuguese Navy Unveils New Drone Mothership Project – Naval News
I agree with you about the need to introduce some fairly quickly, as that will be able to ultilise existing skills in the current MCMV fleet, as well as prepare for the future with newer drone platforms. That, coincidentally, also aligns with your point about development.
We did used to be very good at the minehunting and clearing role, I just hope we haven’t degraded our capability to the point where it will be considerably more expensive to recover it.
I would also consider a modular capability to be useful where UUV’s, UAV’s etc can all be transported and run from ISO type containers. That would aid transportation, storage, fitting etc.
Thanks for the reply, all great points.

Fat Bloke on Tour

We are getting there slowly — only 14 years after the idea was first raised.
Interesting to understand the changes that will be needed to make it more robust?
The T23’s are not exactly WW2 light cruiser spec when it comes to survivability.

Fat Bloke on Tour

Scope creep alert — we should be looking at a service speed of 22 knots.
Would require a significant reworking of the front end / hull profile.
However the powertrain changes should be straight out of a catalogue.
Not a huge amount of work but current RN / RFA build economics would choke a horse.