UK’s minehunting mothership arrives in Plymouth for conversion work

A specialist ship bought to support Royal Navy mine-hunting operations, a mother ship to launch drones to find and destroy undersea threats, has arrived in Plymouth.

Royal Navy

Purchased from Island Offshore, the vessel, currently named MV Island Crown, but due to be renamed as it joins the fleet, arrived at HMNB Devonport, where it will undergo minimal conversion work, primarily to support the installation of military communication systems and Royal Fleet Auxiliary operations, before being handed over to the RFA later this year.

Credit: Royal Navy

Based at His Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the 96.8 metres long vessel will work side-by-side with autonomous mine-hunting systems already operated by the Royal Navy out of Faslane under Project Wilton.

When deployed, the platform will support the safeguarding of UK waters from the threat of mines at sea, operating a range of uncrewed systems that will help keep personnel at a safe distance.

Defence Procurement Minister, Alex Chalk KC, said: “This is another significant step forward in the modernisation of Royal Navy capabilities and use of autonomous systems to complement our crewed fleet. This vessel will play a crucial role in the detection of undersea threats, keeping our personnel out of harm’s way while they conduct vital operations.”

Commodore Steve Prest, Director Navy Acquisition, said: “The delivery of this ship is an important step in the Navy’s transformation to conducting mine countermeasures using distributed offboard systems-of-systems.

“The ship will be used to extend the range of our Maritime Autonomous Systems from coastal waters to conducting offshore survey operations in Defence of the homeland.”

The uncrewed systems will include the joint French-UK Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) system, the Combined Influence Sweep (SWEEP) system and Medium Underwater Autonomous Vehicles (MAUVs).

The purchase of the £40m ship was carried out by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the procurement arm of the MOD.