Royal Navy to boost minehunting capabilities with delivery of 1st MMCM demonstrator

The Royal Navy has taken delivery of the first maritime mine counter measures (MMCM) future mine warfare system prototype.

The demonstrator was officially handed over to the Royal Navy in Plymouth on 23rd November by staff from DE&S, Thales UK and OCCAR. The delivery has been made possible under the joint Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) program between the UK and France. France has also received a demonstrator system.

Now in the hands of the Royal Navy, the system, which comprises an uncrewed surface vessel, towed sonar and a portable operation centre, is commencing rigorous capability development trials. The remotely-operated boat, controlled from either a ship or land, tows a highly-sensitive detection device to combat sea mines and keep ships and personnel away from danger.

The technology will sit alongside other MMCM systems provided through an additional £184 million investment, agreed last year.

Sea mines constitute a growing threat and users of the system will be able to detect and neutralise mines from miles away, ensuring they can keep vital sea lanes open, with much-reduced risk to ships and the lives of sailors.

“It is exciting to see the first delivery to the Royal Navy from the MMCM project. The future of mine warfare is here: the Royal Navy’s Mine Hunting Capability programme is real; it’s happening; it’s delivering. We have a lot to learn about this transformational approach to mine warfare, but there is much, much more to come,” Commodore Steve Prest, Royal Navy, Deputy Director Navy Acquisition, said.

Eventually, the new mine-hunting capabilities are designed to replace crewed mine counter-measure vessels, such as the Royal Navy’s Hunt and Sandown-class ships, with autonomous systems.