Royal Navy reveals new photos and details about its 'pivotal' experimental new ship in Portsmouth

THE Royal Navy has revealed new photos and details about its ‘pivotal’ experimental new ship.

By Hollie Busby
Friday, 29th July 2022, 4:45 am

A futuristic-looking trials ship that will soon be joining the Royal Navy’s specialist squad to develop the next generation of drone tech arrived in Portsmouth on Wednesday.

The ship, weighing 270 tonnes, will join the Senior Service’s NavyX team who test new technology, kit and concepts, passing them quickly to the frontline.

The 42-metre vessel is named after former Royal Navy sailor and Nobel Prize-winner, Patrick Blackett.

New testbed ship to enhance experimentation in Royal Navy LPhot Chris Sellars

The vessel means 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.

The ship, with a crew of five Royal Navy personnel, will have a ‘plug and play’ element to support the navy’s new persistently operationally deployed systems concept – or PODs, for short.

This means the ship can be adapted to the specific trials or experiments it’s carrying out including testing drones and autonomous vessels and AI decision-making.

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New testbed ship to enhance experimentation in Royal Navy . LPhot Chris Sellars

It will also have container-secure points on the work deck so a range of payloads can be embarked, offering flexibility and a modern approach to testing, the navy said.

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.

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.’

New testbed ship to enhance experimentation in Royal Navy . LPhot Chris Sellars

The ship means NavyX will be able 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.

Damen shipyards, in the Netherlands, won the contract for the test ship which can reach speeds of 20 knots.

The naval scientist she is named after, Patrick Blackett, served in the Royal Navy in the First World War.

New testbed ship to enhance experimentation in Royal Navy LPhot Chris Sellars

During the Second World War he was a scientific adviser to Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Pile, commander in chief of anti-aircraft command.

Patrick Blackett, naval scientist.