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.