UK Royal Navy receives last autonomous minehunting boat
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UK Royal Navy receives last autonomous minehunting boat

22 Jun 2021 (Last Updated June 22nd, 2021 16:35)

The new boat will be operated by a Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) team, Project Wilton.

UK Royal Navy receives last autonomous minehunting boat
The third and final Royal Navy autonomous minehunting boat has been delivered to CLYDE Navy Base. Credit: Royal Navy.

The British Royal Navy has taken delivery of the third and final autonomous minehunting boat called RNMB Hebe.

The boat has been delivered to HM Naval Base Clyde to join its sister vessels RNMB Harrier and RNMB Hazard.

These three vessels will be operated as part of the Royal Navy’s crewless minehunting programme, Project Wilton.

Project Wilton is a Maritime Autonomous Systems (MAS) team that aims to develop and deliver the navy’s unmanned minehunting and survey programmes.

Hebe is four metres longer than her sisters and can work in isolation on operations. However, it is also integrated with existing equipment.

Together, the three vessels of Hebe, Harrier and Hazard, are major components in the future of minehunting operations for the navy.

The boats can work in manual, remote or autonomous configurations.

The project Wilton team are currently conducting ‘comprehensive trials’ and a ‘capability development programme’ to ensure the vessels are ready to deliver route survey operations.

Project Wilton officer-in-charge lieutenant commander Ross Balfour said: “RNMB Hebe is the final piece in the jigsaw of Project Wilton’s maritime capability.

“The vessel is a 15m Vahana boat, four-metres longer than the other Project Wilton vessels. AEUK have made significant upgrades resulting in Hebe having an organic command, control and communications capability which allows the autonomous control of her sister vessel Harrier.

“She also has the ability to operate towed sidescan sonar to map the seabed.”

From Hebe, mine countermeasures (MCM) experts can coordinate and control the boats. They also have an option of controlling the vessels from a land-based, remote-control centre.

The entire system is capable of being transported to wherever required in order to conduct survey and minehunting operations.