Damen Shipyards has delivered a new testbed vessel, named XV Patrick Blackett, to the UK Royal Navy’s (RN) innovation team NavyX.
The ship was handed over during a ceremony at HMNB Portsmouth on 29 July.
The 42m-long, 270t vessel has been named in honour of Patrick Blackett, a former RN sailor and recipient of Nobel Prize for Physics in 1948.
Damen’s fast crew supply (FCS) ship 4008, selected by the RN, was modified as per the service’s requirements and delivered within 12 months.
This ship will support trials of various latest technologies and autonomous systems.
Damen UK and Ireland sales manager Frederik van der Linde said: “This is the first Damen vessel to be directly supplied to RN.
“We will also be supporting the team of NaxyX intensively via our service hub in Portsmouth where our R&D department will support certain experiments.”
The ship will be used by the RN’s experimentation and innovation experts NavyX, responsible for driving innovation and testing of new technologies, kit and concepts across RN.
XV Patrick Blackett will even participate in the service and Nato exercises, with possibility of being upgraded with autonomous technology.
NavyX head colonel Tom Ryall said: “The arrival of this vessel is a pivotal moment for NavyX’s ability to deliver output for RN.
“She will give us greater flexibility to experiment with novel military capabilities and accelerate new technology, kit and concepts to frontline.”
Furthermore, the vessel will have a ‘plug-and-play element’ to support RN’s new persistently operationally deployed systems concept.
This means that the ship can be adapted to specific trials, including testing drones, autonomous vessels and artificial intelligence decision-making.