BAE Systems say it has successfully completed a series of trials on a ‘first of its kind’ autonomous boat.

The firm say that the boat ‘will allow navies to go beyond the limits of human endurance with unmanned vessels that can travel further, for longer and to more inhospitable environments’.

The autonomous Pacific 950 Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) demonstrator was used to develop and prove technologies which have the potential to make naval missions faster, easier and safer, taking the relationship between human and machine to new territories, say BAE.

“Developed alongside industry experts from L3Harris and MSI Defence Systems, the P950 is equipped with automated navigational decision-making technologies, freeing up operators to focus on mission critical information from afar.

To enhance the capability of existing warships, the technology has been designed to be retrofitted to existing RIBs, such as BAE Systems’ Pacific 24, which is currently in service with the Royal Navy across its surface fleet.”

The vessel can operate for up to 10 days at ‘patrol speed’ or 300 nautical miles in pursuit mode, reaching speeds of up to 45 knots, whilst either being remote controlled or on a semi-autonomous mission. Trials conducted by BAE Systems have shown how the technology provides the ability to undertake complex, multi-phase missions and support advanced dynamic tasking, whilst providing enhanced situational awareness to support faster and more effective decision-making by naval operators.

It has potential applications across a range of missions, including anti-piracy operations, border control, persistent intelligence gathering, maritime security and force protection. The use of autonomous vessels in high-risk areas would allow operations to be conducted without endangering sailors.

Mike Woods, Chief Technologist for BAE Systems’ Maritime Services business, said:

“This technology represents a huge step forward in the interaction between human and machine, combining sophisticated autonomous technology with human capabilities to overcome many of the challenges faced in difficult conditions at sea.

The boat keeps sailors out of harm’s way whilst allowing them to respond to the increasingly varied, often unpredictable scenarios they face every day, and aids faster decision making in complex and ambiguous situations.”

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Geoffrey Roach

Maybe this is what we need for the Gulf NOW.


Not really. We knew the attack was taking place and the helicopter was able to film it but the ship was too far away to do anything about it.

Until this is capable of launching some form of antiship or anti air weapons, it’s will have very situational usefulness.


Was unaware of the Wildcat filming the seizure. I know there’s some very hazy stills from the Wildcat of the attempted seizure that Montrose stopped a few weeks ago.


I think it did but even if not, the point remains a survalliance boat is pretty pointless if you can’t project offensive power when needed. Also I assume this will have significantly more endurance than a helicopter or again pointless.

Unfortunately tech isn’t there yet to replace manpower and frigates. Maybe one day but right now we are paying the cost of cutting our navy to the bones and then some.


Such technology will, however, be most useful for survey, mine countermeasures and patrol vessels I feel.


Expected 10 days endurance, so I’d hope so…

It’s not designed to replace frigates or to conduct anti-ship warfare.

However, it’d be a very effective escort/deterrent assigned to commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz. It is perfect to contest with fast attack craft with no risk to life and then the ship can back them if anything kicks off.

The issue with the Steno Impero is that there were no British assets with the tanker, if their had been then any actions taken would be self defence.

William Griffiths

The released film is from the Iranian helicopter and boats.


So we made a movie,wonderful.


Surely that is the next logical step. Adapt some of our existing weapons to deal with fast boats / Helicopters etc and mount them on these or slightly larger boats. Build a couple of dozen to escort ships. Do it now. We shouldn’t be a bunch of doomsters. BAE can get it done now or risk losing market share to more agile newcomers.

Mark F

Couldn’t agree more. Rush them into service heavily armed to scout ahead of the mother ship the Bay class would be ideal for this.


You are right Geoffrey, yes they would be useful but as usual it’ll be just too late delivery. They are to be armed; that is the next stage of development according to the BAE stand at the the London expo I guess it has to be a modular system and there is also power and range to weight trade offs. No there was no wildcat presence at the boarding of the ship according to local gulf news media. They further say the IRGC monitors naval ship movements and does not risk overly risk direct conflict knowing its islands are pretty… Read more »

James Fennell

They are armed with a 12.7mm HMG on a RWS. Very useful for force protection as well as surveillance.


Will it be long before the likes of Iran possess this kind of technology? Maybe it is straightforward to jam the transmissions to them but if not they will be pretty difficult to defeat considering how expensive they are to produce and equip with short range anti ship missiles


The article says “semi-autonomous” although no clear definition of what that means. I guess this could be as little as we point and it steers/heads to, up to set a way point, move to the next way point etc. Maybe it even has a built in routine that is triggered on the loss of comms for “x minutes” to then return to a pre-set way point/start location. None of this is particularly difficult to do from an IT point of view – lots of systems have been doing it for years.

Nigel Collins

Truly awesome!

Let’s hope we see these arriving onboard our warships sometime soon!
I wonder when we will see this technology arriving in the Gulf? and the possibility of Martlet being added too?

Daniele Mandelli


Nigel Collins


“CMN fast patrol boats launched for Saudi navy”

“The identity of the first two of the 39 boats that are being built for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) under a deal with CMN was revealed when a launch ceremony was held at the French company’s Cherbourg yard on 24 July.”


Ignoring its Saudi, and i would personally prefer we didn’t sell arms to the middle east, this highlights that to achieve exports you need to be aligned time wise, the product has to exist to prove its more than paper and it needs to be period relevant (i.e. not designed a long time ago around a different war fare idea), plus ofc the usual bribes etc need to be paid. The whole we should build x and export it is naive thinking, what ever it is whether frigate/jet/etc the timing needs to be aligned (we need customers looking at the… Read more »


So Cobham has been agreed for takeover, inmarsat is next and Harland and wolf is about to go under. Will there be any strategic interests left at this rate? And top story is a remote control speed boat.

Nigel Collins

Fair point James,
Let’s hope we see more on the troubling issues you’ve raised here on UKDJ


I’d rather our new government step in and block all 3 but knowing how things work we’ll lose another bunch of important assets. H&W needs to be saved no matter the cost

James Harrington

James, the list goes on and on, this is just the latest critical and strategic entity being flogged off and lost. Look what happened to ARM after SoftbBank purchased it!!!!!! The implications of the subsequent ARM transfer to PRC are gigantic.

These type of business sell off must be far more publicized than is currently done. People dont know how damaging this is.


Not so much, arm is an chip designer and not builder. As the design needs to be known by the buyer, any backdoors etc will be known and can be worked around.

It’s a shame arm was sold but not really a security risk.


Is there an advert covering the picture?


The Iran situation has gone beyond maritime rights of passage and its disruption. The Iranian Theological regime has embarked on a dark path, supporting/equipping terror organisations that are posturing themselves in the belief than Iran will surreptitiously become a nuclear power. It’s my belief that the Iranian Mullahs and their cohorts have to be dealt with. If they can’t be crushed by sanctions, then other means must be considered. I’m afraid to say, that Israel would have little choice but to attack Iran by all available means if her borders were ever threatened on the scale of Yom Kippur 73.… Read more »


Iran will not be crushed by sanctions Ian, so I guess you will have to start planning your ‘other means’. Blaming Iran alone for the current troubles is counter productive, alot of countries are supporting regional proxies/terrorist either directly or indirectly including your own and the US and there are simply far to many problems that need to be sorted out and too many outside players interfering. There is no sort term solution, at best all we can hope for is it doesn’t escalate into a wider conflict, long term, I don’t know anymore, but while everyone is pointing their… Read more »


Well said

Daniele Mandelli



I am sorry to bring politics to your site, I try not to comment so not to cause anger, but sometimes I cannot help myself

Daniele Mandelli

It is here regardless Ulya, check out the nonsense on the other thread. It usually concerns Brexit. Despite a vote, we are not allowed to be a successful independent nation apparently. We must remain in political union within the EU, who are not “Europe” and are totally unable to survive without this union….. I look forward to telling that to the SNP. Lack of RN ships aside, which is an internal matter TOTALLY the responsibility of HMG, this whole mess is down to Trumps policies,and Britain’s own being a contradiction. We support the nuclear deal, so do the EU, disagree… Read more »


I stopped reading about Brexit, but will have to start paying attention now with you having a new PM. Regardless how you voted, I wish you all the best


Thats Bull s##t Ulya and you know it, your comments always have a subtle hint of putin promation or condescending the west and going by how Russia does its dirty deeds around the world you should get off that high horse.


Dave, who is Ulya, what is she? Please sing along to Shakespeare’s song…if you know the tune?


what ever Herodotus your humor is lost on me.


Well Dave, it’s quite simple, who is Ulya, what is she?


Ulya is a Russian who promotes her nations interest on English speaking websites, she most likely gets a bonus for it lol.


All views are important, especially the views of those who dare not speak them, for fear of persecution, or even execution!
I find it absolutely mind-boggling, that some, not only defend the Iranian Theological Bullies but also appear content with them acquiring nuclear weapons.
I also find it bizarre, that some people try to convince me, that the Iranian Theological Dictatorship possesses integrity!!

Simply my humble opinion!

Respect to All…


I am not trying to defend Iran’s government Ian, that was not my intent, but I spend enough time there to know the government is not going to back down to what they see is American aggression, and even the Iranian people I work with feel compelled to resist, not in support of the government but their country. There are 2 sides to every coin.


Resist what?
Your stance actually supports The ‘right’ for a fundamentalist Theology to carry out it’s overt threat to annihilate a Sovereign state.
This isn’t really about Iran’s place in the world, it’s about hatred for the West and all that it stands for.

Come back and tell me about the Iranian people when they have the right to vote without fear, when the women can dress in what “they” choose, when statute law replaces religious ideology…

My hope is (like history has shown many times), that the people take to the streets and free themselves from religious tyranny.


I am not sure how to explain anymore Ian, my English is either not clear or you fail to understand my meaning, go plan your ‘other means’ and I wish you luck


You don’t have to explain anymore, it’s called differing opinions. I simply do not agree with your reticence toward an Islamic Ideological regime.
As for your veiled threats, I rather think that Iran wouldn’t last more than a week against NATO forces!

Ulya, these discussion boards often stir up robust debate, military or political. At the end of each debate, you must respect the other person rights to their views and freedom of thought!

They are simply opinions, not pro-active political fervour!

Much respect to yourself…


Ulya, Perhaps Iran needs to consider softening their stance towards countries who are trying not to overreact when Iran pokes them with a stick?


Mark, perhaps the US needs to honour the nuclear agreement, not go for maximum pressure trying to destroy Iran’s economy etc. Have you thought that maybe it’s not just Iran doing the poking? Back to my original comment of pointing fingers


Ulya, It is pretty obvious to most observers that Iran should not have nuclear weapons the only difference between different Governments is how this is achieved. I am suggesting that perhaps it would be in Iran’s interests not to lash out at countries who are supporting peaceful methods of achieving this. Is it not perhaps in the interests of us all if this happens peacefully?


Mark, I agree with you, I don’t like the idea of Iran with nuclear weapons and I personally don’t like their government, but that is irrelevant. What do you think was going to happen when America pulled out of the nuclear deal and are now trying to destroy their economy? What did you think would happen when the RN took that tanker? Those are not peaceful moves. Like I said in my original comment, Iran is not solely to blame for the current issues, but until that is accepted noting will change


Just too remind you again Ulya your nations leader Putin is a fanatic and todays protest in russia for a real democratic process by thousends of Russian people was subdued by the kremlin. You really dont have a leg to stand on arguing your point on this website.


Ulya, The RN took nothing. The tanker was stopped to investigate if it was breaking an Oil embargo. I’m sure Gibraltar would love to get rid of it anywhere but Syria. Iran I’m sure knows this perfectly well. This site from what I can see is about facts and opinions not propaganda. If you can provide facts to contradict my understanding then please share them.


To be honest Mark, I care nothing for their tanker or the UK registered one they took, that is your tit for tat game to play with them, how they perceive this situation is what matters and that has been the point I’ve been trying to make. Your perception and their perception of the situation is very different, and it involves more than just the ships, but until both sides actually start talking with respect to each other’s interests then nothing will change.


Ulya, it’s not a game! It is about Governments who are not prepared to work with others and strive for peace. Governments who wish to increase the tension making the situation more dangerous. The current US administration are less predictable than in the past. Sooner or later a country like Iran will push them too far and I can’t see that benefiting any of us can you?


It’s late, so maybe my understanding of your words is wrong, but to me your tone is still blaming Iran, pushing the US to far. You don’t see how the US is pushing Iran to far? Talking of peace while treating each other as the enemy will achieve nothing


Sorry Ulya but Russias allies tend to be a bit more on the dodgey side then the west, granted saudies inaccurate bombing and high civillians casualties in yemen are on par with Russias performance in its bombing campaign in Syria.

Simon m

This looks a good capability but one of the articles stated it could pursue pirates for 72 hrs at 45knots that’s fine but who do the pirates surrender to? Still means ship with wildcat etc. Would need to be involved.
Also if it is pursuing one target does it have the awareness of another follows behind it? Great if it does but if not enemy such as IRCG would soon develop tactics.
Technology is great but we do have to realise it has limitations as well as advantages.


Good point! Yes all these bits a kit are just extending the reach of humans with brains they certainly are not replacing anybody. Indeed in all mine time with new technology I’ve always seen more people not less but perhaps in different places doing different things.

I would think that scanning for threats from all angles would be a key requirement.


This is why I think hull size is an important criteria for the T31. Essentially becoming a mother ship for various autonomous systems. This is where the real capability growth and force multipliers are going to come from in future.


If you follow it to its logical conclusion you could end up with something the size of HMS QE acting as a mother ship to 50-70 of these vessels.


This was announced in 2015… Come on fellas

andy reeves

nice to know if say, a 20mm gun would be mountable


I think this is really just a tech demonstrator. You get the basics right with this for an incredibly low cost (relative!) and then you build a much bigger version with all this tech and lessons learned.