Atlas Elektronik UK (AEUK) are in the middle of a programme to build and deliver 38 SEA Class workboats used in various roles by RN. In this photo and video essay, we take a look at the Officer Training variant.
7 of the 8 new Officer Training Boats (OTB) have been delivered to Britannia Royal Naval College since November 2020. The final boat of the class was on show as DSEI in London and will be delivered to Dartmouth shortly. The new craft are a step-change from their predecessors, replacing the sedate picket boats of a bye-gone era. At the time of writing, the new OTBs are not yet being used for training at BRNC while new operating procedures and training manuals are still being developed to exploit the full potential of these very different vessels.
OTBs will mainly be used during the Maritime Leadership (MARL) phase of officer training where cadets learn the basics of seamanship, boat handling, navigation, planning and conduct simulated exercises. The new boats have greater range, speed and improved accommodation compared with the picket boats, potentially enabling much longer training cruises. The modern navigational equipment fit is much closer to what cadets will find on the bridge of ships in the fleet and the boats will provide a better preparation for trainees.
The OTB is based on the 15m SEA class but the main classroom area is a separate module that is bolted to a common hull used by all types of boat. Although there is some equipment the needs to be connected up, in theory, the road-transportable modules can be removed and changed over, allowing the boats re-roled within around 48 hours if required. There is also commonality of components across the class using the same Hamilton waterjets, diesel engines, steering and controls, seating and navigation. This makes for simplified logistic support and familiarity for users across the fleet. The SEA class represents an example of a sensible, value-for-money procurement and is another success story for UK marine industrial manufacturing.
So far AEUK has delivered the majority of the SEA class workboats, are about to complete the Passenger Transfer Boats for the aircraft carriers and HNMB Hebe is already in service as an autonomous mine warfare platform. With the completion of OTB deliveries, the company is now manufacturing the diving support boats and they will be followed by the survey boats.