The Royal Navy’s newest hydrographic survey vessel has moved a step closer to formally joining the fleet with its nine-strong crew embarking for the first time this week.

The crew have been busy moving in and undertaking training exercises as they familiarise themselves with their new home ahead of her formal commissioning ceremony in the next few weeks. Their first week has also seen them join their fellow survey ships Echo and Enterprise on social media, launching the ship’s official twitter page.

Leading the crew is Lieutenant Commander Will Alexander who comes in as Magpie’s first commanding officer with an impressive resume that includes an international exchange with the Royal New Zealand Navy’s survey teams and being the final commanding officer for Magpie’s predecessor HMS Gleaner.

Speaking at the time of her sea trials Lt Cdr Alexander said that:

“Magpie will help lead the way in modernising the Royal Navy’s survey and underwater surveillance capabilities.”

The new vessel is larger and more capable than her predecessor, forfeiting the smallest commissioned vessel mantle held by her predecessor to the fast patrol boats of the Gibraltar Squadron. The vessel is an 18m, 37 tonne, derivative of Safehaven Marine’s  proven Wildcat 60 catamaran design. Sea trials indicate that she should be able to maintain 20 knots in Sea State Four conditions and 2.5m waves.

Her hydrographic equipment will include the latest generation of equipment including a modern high-resolution shallow-water multi-beam echo sounder and side-scan sonar. Magpie will also be able to launch remote-controlled underwater devices to search wide areas of seabed for obstructions or mines.

As with her predecessor her primary purpose will be to ensure the approaches to British ports are safe by scanning the seabed and updating charts while maintaining another white ensign flying presence in home waters.

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Bill Kenny

A Lieutenant Commander to lead a crew of nine??


Small vessels are commanded by Lieutenant Commanders in the Royal Navy, so whilst Will Alexander is a Lt Cdr he will be the ‘Captain’ of HMS Magpie. Commands like this are good ways for younger officers to build the command skills needed before having to manage a larger vessel. Vessels like this will also get an experienced Petty Officer to keep the young officer out of harm.


Those are some serious waves approaching the stipulated 2,5 metres! Any idea where the photo taken?


I believe it was taken during builders trials off the coast of Ireland.

There’s a video somewhere of it on trials.


Thanks Lusty-see below. the video is briliant!


It’s at the mouth of Cork harbour, Safehaven does all of their testing there, some great videos on their facebook site


What a wasted opportunity, the RN could have reserved the name, ‘Magpie’ for their new carrier! On that line of thought, the second carrier could then have been ‘Crow.’ Just imagine the terror such names would strike at the heart of the enemy?

Why does the MOD have a propensity for using such soft name for military vessels and tanks? Remember the ‘Ferrit’ and ‘Dingo?’ I know it’s all part of the Psychology of being good British fellows I suppose?

Daniele Mandelli

I thought Ferret was perfect myself for a small recc vehicle nipping about like a real Ferret would.

Vanguard Victorious Vigilance Vengeance are hardly soft either, and apt for what they contain and what awaits an enemy if they mess with the UK with nuclear weapons.

What names would you suggest? HMS Devastator? Few Star Wars ones I can think of!


No problem with the ‘V’ group. The Ferret was a silly name and one that embarrassed some guys who mounted them. The vehicle itself was superb and its flawed replacement had a better and more appropriate name of ‘Fox,’ then followed by Scorpion. I’d never put a name like ‘Magpie’ on any RN vessel, no matter how small, even noncombatant vessels. Naming Military fighting equipment should always hint at its hitting power and intent. Thought should be given to the crews who drink alongside guys who have impressive ship names emblazoned on their caps. The ‘Magpie’ may well have a… Read more »


Personally, I thought ‘Magpie’was perfect for its role, and a wonderful tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.

Personally, I’d like to see ‘Beagle’ and ‘Endurance’ back in the fleet, but I cant see that happening any time soon.


Endurance, brilliant! Beagle is for a family riverboat.

Daniele Mandelli

Interesting? What was flawed about the Fox? Was it top heavy?


Generally the more aggressive names seem to be reserved for the sharp end-Daring Dauntless Dragon Dreadnought etc.. The above is not a warship so I suppose Magpie is as good as any-I mean it would not be taken seriously if it was named HMS Revenge!!


My father served on a HMS magpie in the 1950s which i believe was a frigate ?//

Bill Kenny

Mmm, a quick check seems to show that the average age on promotion to Lt Cmdr in the RN is 35 yrs with, again on average 11 years service. So it takes eleven years training to lead a crew of nine?? ‘

David E Flandry

In the US Coast Guard such vessels are commanded by Warrant Officers or even CPO. But the Royal Navy has 1 officer for every 5 personnel, so I suppose they have to put them somewhere.

Nigel Collins

A very tough little performer!


Excellent video Nigel-thanks for the link!