Named in honour of a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist who served in the navy, the new trials ship, XV Patrick Blackett, will act as a dedicated experimentation platform at sea.
As a unique testbed ship, the ‘Experimental Vessel’ will support trials of the latest tech and autonomous systems.
The XV Patrick Blackett will be based in Portsmouth - also home to NavyX, which is the navy’s innovation and technology expert team.
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CO Sam Nightingale said that the ship will ‘push forward boundaries’ as a ‘fantastic platform for experimentation’.
NavyX will be able to carry out more trials at sea to enhance the Fleet’s operations and ensure the UK stays at the leading edge of naval warfare.
Colonel Tom Ryall, head of NavyX, said: ‘The arrival of this vessel is a pivotal moment for NavyX’s ability to deliver output for the Royal Navy.
‘She will give us greater flexibility to experiment with novel military capabilities, and accelerate new technology, kit and concepts to the frontline.’
The ship will enable NavyX to experiment without the need to place demand on other navy ships, many of which are deployed permanently away from UK waters. She will also offer the chance to work closer with industry and academia partners.
Royal Navy director develop rear admiral James Parkin said: ‘It’s a really exciting moment.
‘For decades the navy has always done experiments at sea using warships, but warships come with a huge host of rules and regus, they carry round explosives, hundreds of people, highly flammable material, so therefore we’re limited in what we can do as we always have to be as safe as possible.
‘Patrick Blackett, as an auxiliary rather than a warship, allows us to really push the envelope without worrying about doing activities that could be dangerous.
‘It tells everybody we are taking experimentation and innovation seriously.’
Arriving in Portsmouth this week, the 42m, 270-tonne vessel will be operated by a crew of five and has got up to 24 knots speed during trials.
James added that the hosting of the welcoming ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base is fitting considering the Royal Navy’s proud history of experimentation.
He added: ‘Being in Portsmouth for this moment seems entirely appropriate, in the shadow of HMS Victory, one of the most important ships the Royal Navy has ever had.’
Sam explained that the ship’s impressive bridge offers ‘all round visibility’, and is ‘all designed to be done by a single person’.
He added: ‘We are doing something new for the Royal Navy.
‘This will also reduce the burden on the work force - there’s lessons to be learned in the navy.
‘It will help with getting the best out of people, and the Royal Navy has the best people in the world.’
In the future, XV Patrick Blackett will take part in Royal Navy and NATO exercises, with the possibility of it being upgraded with autonomous technology.