Royal Navy first as drone delivers supplies to HMS Bangor during mine hunting exercises in the Gulf

NAVY tech boundaries have been pushed to new heights as a drone delivered supplies to a minehunter in the Gulf.

Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 1:30 pm

For the first time, a robot boat delivered supplies to a Royal Navy warship on operations, currently based in Bahrain.

Sailors from HMS Bangor collected equipment ferried out to their ship by a small American boat, allowing them to complete a mine hunting exercise.

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HMS Bangor in the Gulf of Arabia on February 9, 2022. Picture: Lt Purvis RN/UK MOD Crown Copyright.

The unmanned jet boat has been used by the US Navy to hunt mines, lowering sonar into the water and patrolling a pre-planned area of ocean, looking for suspicious objects on or tethered to the seabed.

It can transport supplies which can be lifted by a human being.

The aim is to resupply ships, so sailors do not have to cease operations.

It would also not endanger crews who would normally be tasked with transporting supplies.

The autonomous craft sailing alongside HMS Bangor. Pictured is AB (D) Oakley, MHU Team, L (D) Smith, AB (MW) Rowan-Thompson. Picture: SLt Harris RN/UK MOD Crown copyright.

Trials and tests are ongoing, with the goal of the crewless craft being able to deliver heavier goods.

The successful trials with Bangor – which delivered vital supplies for her Seafox robot submersible to the ship to allow her crew to identify and neutralise mock mines – were carried out during the latest joint US-UK workout in the Middle East.

HMS Bangor’s Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Rob Couzens said: ‘The idea is that a minehunter will be able to be in the middle of a minefield hunting mines and that it wouldn’t need to break task to go to replenish – it would be able to be sent stores autonomously towards its position, maintaining mine hunting operations.

HMS Bangor sea boat on operations on April 15, 2022. Picture: Lt Timmis/UK MOD Crown copyright

Divers were also used to remove devices.

After a 10-day exercise, the crew recovered 17 drill mines.

HMS Bangor crew craning recovered sea mine on board. Photographer: Lt Timmis/UK MOD Crown copyright.