The UK Royal Navy’s (RN) first of two future Multi-Role Oceanographic Survey (MROS) vessels has arrived in Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, UK.

The two commercial undersea surveillance ships were purchased by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for £65m in November 2022, as part of the MROS programme to meet the country’s seabed warfare requirements.

Currently named Topaz Tangaroa, the ship was built by Vard in 2019 and is yet to receive its military name.

The formal handing over of the vessel to the RN will be conducted in next few days.

Following its arrival at Cammell Laird, the vessel will now undergo a series of modification, including repainting work and installation of military equipment before it begins its training with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA).

Topaz Tangaroa is expected to enter service with the RN as a MROS vessel to undertake front-line duties later this year. It will be deployed for protecting UK’s crucial seabed telecommunications cables as well as oil and gas pipelines.

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The new vessel is expected to be crewed with around 24 RFA personnel and around 60 RN specialists.

The 98m-long, 6,000t ship will be the ‘mother ship’ and will allow the RN specialists to operate remote and autonomous off-board systems to conduct underwater surveillance and seabed warfare and other national security missions.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The first of two dedicated subsea surveillance ships will join fleet this summer, bolstering our capabilities and security against threats posed now and into future. 

“It is paramount at a time when we face Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, that we prioritise capabilities that will protect our critical national infrastructure.”

The second MROS ship to be acquired by the RN is currently in the concept phase.