UK sets sights on two survey ships to counter undersea threats

The UK will procure two new multi-role survey ships for seabed warfare, the country’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced while speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.

The purchase will be made with the aim to keep the country’s cables and pipelines safe, following the recent leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines from Russia to Europe, and the consequences of the Russian-Ukraine crisis.

“We have no time to lose. The Prime Minister is determined to invest in defence, stand up to Russia, stand by Ukraine, and prepare us to face the threats for tomorrow. The reality is that we can’t afford NOT to invest 3 per cent of GDP in defence and our Prime Minister understands that,” Wallace added.

According to Wallace, the first multi-role survey ship for seabed warfare will be purchased by the end of this year, fitted out here in the UK, and in operation before the end of next year. The second ship will be built in the UK.

Last March, the UK Ministry of Defence revealed it is developing a new multi-role ocean surveillance ship (MROSS) to protect the nation against hostile actors and grow the understanding of maritime threats.

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The vessels, which will be fitted with advanced sensors, will be able to accommodate a crew of around 15 people. They will also carry a number of remotely operated and autonomous undersea drones which will collect data to help protect UK waters.

The units will also be able to support other defence tasks, including exercises and operations in the Arctic which will become an increasingly contested area. The government has already announced a new defence strategy to tackle the safety and future of the Arctic region.

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“The cables are crucial to government-to-government communications and the new capability will protect the interests of the UK and its partners,” the officials stressed.