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Royal Navy incorporates experimental ship to test state-of-the-art technology

Monday, August 1st 2022 - 16:51 UTC
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NavyX chose to name the ship after Patrick Blackett, a Nobel Prize winner who made a major contribution in the WW2 (Picture: Royal Navy) NavyX chose to name the ship after Patrick Blackett, a Nobel Prize winner who made a major contribution in the WW2 (Picture: Royal Navy)

An experimental warship has been unveiled by the Royal Navy to be used to test state-of-the-art technology, including autonomous systems. The unique new test-bed ship – a 42m, 270-ton vessel named after former Royal Navy sailor and Nobel Prize winner Patrick Blackett – arrived in Portsmouth this week.

 She has been bought for use by the Navy's experimentation and innovation experts NavyX as a platform for trials and experimentation with new technologies.

With the addition of the XV (Experimental Vessel) Patrick Blackett, NavyX will be able to carry out more trials at sea to enhance the Fleet's operations and look to ensure the UK stays at the leading edge of naval warfare.

XV Patrick Blackett will enable NavyX to experiment without the need to place a demand on other Navy ships, many of which are deployed permanently away from UK waters. She will also offer the chance to work closely with industry and academia partners.

Damen Shipyards, in the Netherlands, won the contract for the test ship which can reach speeds of 20 knots and has been modified to support NavyX operations. The ship has a crew of five Royal Navy personnel.

She will have a 'plug and play' element to support the Navy's new PODS (Persistently Operationally Deployed Systems) concept which means it can be adapted to the specific trials or experiments it is carrying out including testing drones and autonomous vessels and AI decision-making.

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 called the arrival of the vessel 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,” Colonel Ryall said.

NavyX chose to name the ship XV Patrick Blackett to honor the British physicist who won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1948.He served in the Royal Navy in the First World War and made a major contribution in the Second World War advising on military strategy and developing operational research – being named the Admiralty's first director of Operational Research.

First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sir Ben Key joined Patrick Blackett's granddaughter, distinguished guests, friends and family as XV Patrick Blackett was named.

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 called the arrival of the vessel 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,” Colonel Ryall said.

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