The Royal Navy are developing a new Multi Role Ocean Surveillance ship (MROSS) to protect the UK’s critical underwater infrastructure.

The image above shows survey vessel HMS Enterprise, there’s no official imagery of MROSS just yet.

The Ministry of Defence say that the ship, which will come into service by 2024, will be a surface vessel with a crew of around 15 people. The crew will conduct research to help the Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence protect undersea critical national infrastructure.

According to a news release:

“Undersea cables are vital to the global economy and communications between governments. Submarine warfare presents a particular risk of sabotage to undersea cable infrastructure – an existential threat to the UK. The ship will be fitted with advanced sensors and will carry a number of remotely operated and autonomous undersea drones which will collect data to help protect our people and way of life with operations in UK and international waters.

The vessels will also be able to support with other defence tasks, including exercises and operations in the Arctic which will become an increasingly contested area. The cables are crucial to government-to-government communications and the new capability will protect the interests of the UK and its partners and allies. The new ship is being developed as part of a wholesale modernisation of the Armed Forces which will be unveiled in the Defence Command Paper tomorrow. As part of the government’s Integrated Review, the Prime Minister has committed to invest in technologies and capabilities to protect British people from new and evolving threats.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“As the threat changes, we must change. Our adversaries look to our critical national infrastructure as a key vulnerability and have developed capabilities that put these under threat. Some of our new investments will therefore go into ensuring that we have the right equipment to close down these newer vulnerabilities. Whether on land, sea or air, we must make sure that we maintain the UK resilience to those that attempt to weaken us.”

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captain p wash

With a crew of 15 ?

Herodotus

Yes, I queried this the other day. Could be based on an offshore supply vessel, but would need an additional specialist crew for the operational side.

David

Something like SD Northern River?

Robert Blay.

In the merchant fleet you can have 70k tonne vessel with a crew of only 15.

captain p wash

Well yes but I find that hard to believe with so many thousands of miles of undersea cables to care for. Are we talking Global or inshore here ?

Robert Blay

I’m guessing they mean north sea, and north Atlantic. I am only guessing though 😆

Deep32

I imagine they are referring to the major trans Atlantic cables.

Steve

It’s a token measure that sounds good on sound bites and can be delivered on the cheap, but realistically will have zero actual ability to deliver. It would take a huge number of vessels to realistically protect the cables, not even the US has enough.

Deep32

Actually Steve it’s not as bad as you think, anything over the continental shelf requires a specialist submersible to get to those depths, so also requires a mother ship of some form, so not too difficult to track. That leaves the contiental shelf that requires monitoring, a much smaller piece of water to observe and police. Submarine cable map – gives you an idea of the world’s cable locations, there are a lot of them!!!!

Steve

Fair but it’s a stupid big ocean and a lot of cables. If the risk was only from surface ships then planes would be a better way to track across a huge ocean but its realistically also subs and so chances of monitoring is zero.

Deep32

Like you say, ships with submersibles are reasonably easy to track via space/air assets.
Not many nations have the ability to do this via SMs, it’s been going on for decades, so has the monitoring.

captain p wash

Yes but You’d need at least 12 Stokers, 3 cooks and a couple of Grease Monkeys for a ship of that size.

David Flandry

But with only navigation radar, no sensors, minimal signals abilities, and no weapons at all.

Robert Blay

I guess will get more details about the vessel and it’s crew soon enough.

Geoffrey Roach

Bit like a carrier? Crew of whatever plus aircrew as necessary.

captain p wash

Oh….. We had a Crew of many and a few cramped spaces for the Passengers !

Geoffrey Roach

Ap’n you had a few ol’ sea dogs on that galleon of yorn Cap’n

Order of the Ditch

As a former Deck Officer 15 seems a bit too lean, Captain, Chief Mate, 2 or 3 junior deck officers, a deck crew of at least 4, chief engineer, 2nd engineer, two junior engineers, 3 oilers, 1 cook, 1 steward. This takes you over the reported 15 figure.

captain p wash

Yeah but no but yeah but……. You forgetting Roger the cabin boy and Seaman Stains ……..

Jonathan

Just had to go there didn’t you and you forgot old pirate willy.

Andy P

I assume from that crew number that

A. Its going to be based or modified from a civvy design and this is the base crew of the original design.

B. Given this small base crew, that it may end up as an RFA. The crew on these is often given as X plus the capability to embark Y. No reason that couldn’t work on an RN vessel but FF/DC might be tricky with such a small crew and its going to be a crap duty watch when alongside.

We’ll find out down the line what it ends up as.

Mr Bell

Crew of 15. It’s called lean manning. Meaning the vessel could easily be captured by a single helicopter full of enemy troops. 15 personnel. They have to be on some strange hallucinogenic drugs in Whitehall. Only answer for Borrus less than 12 months ago stating. The era of defence cuts is behind us. This government intends to grow our armed forces. Really? 2 squadrons of much needed typhoons scrapped without replacement 2 type 23s scrapped after just going through a service life extension programme Army 10,000 reduction in list on paper strength Effective MBTs reduced to 148 Hercules scrapped without… Read more »

Levi Goldsteinberg

Must be a conversion rather than being built from scratch – having her in the sea by 2024 with our slipways as full as they are seems a stretch otherwise. She’s got to operate numerous UUVs so I’d imagine she’ll have a sizeable hull – at least as big as HMS Scott which I assume the MROSS is intended to replace. 15 can comfortably crew a large merchant vessel, I assume this number refers to the permanent crew and not add-ons such as Marines, UUV operators, maybe a pilot or two etc rotating on and off the ship depending on… Read more »

Herodotus

Appledore?

ChariotRider

I’m pretty sure Appledore built HMS Scott, so they could be a good match to any converted vessel. HMS Scott’s size was driven by the need for a stable platform when surveying deep water and she apparently has large ballast tanks as well. Her size was a problem for Appledore, if I remember rightly she got stuck on the mud! If the new vessel is to undertake both cable protection duties and HMS Scott’s survey work I would expect a similar sized vessel with added cranes and hangar space to handle UUV’s in addition to the towed and hull mounted… Read more »

Aaran

Could be at Lairds. Similar to the Attenborough survey vessel.

DaveyB

The Government and Navy have stated that the undersea cables are vital to our economy. But have yet to state what they will do if they find someone tampering with them?

julian1

send down 007 in scuba with a knife in his mouth

David Flandry

Or write a really mean letter to Russia, China, etc.

Deep32

If the last few decades are anything to go bye-nothing!!!! The Russian have been ‘monitoring’ said cables for several decades using Paltus/Losharik, which are v deep diving seabed operations SMs.
I had an interesting chat with @Sonik1 over on STRN about the very subject, lots of interesting stuff.

Gunbuster

LOSHARIK won’t be doing anything for a while Titanium doesn’t like fires and the 2019 accident probably did V serious damage to its systems.

Deep32

Yes mate, I read that too, it appears that several of the crew also perished in the incident – v sad state of affairs.

ChariotRider

Hi Deep32, One thing they wouldn’t be doing is threatening the lives of Russian submariners so no offensive weaponary as has been suggested by some. More likely we’ll find ‘stuff’ after the event so it’ll be about noting its presence and taking immediate action with regards to data security. We can then remove offending stuff or perhaps put a short bypass in (not sure which if either of these is feasible, but I’d assume we can do something as the cables do get repaired). If we catch them in the act we’ll probably monitor their activies see what they are… Read more »

Deep32

Hi CR, spot on, nothing will get down to those depths to trouble them, I think a heavyweight torpedo is good for some 300-350ish metres before it implodes due to pressure, so , that leaves the mother ship…… I have had several discussions over the years as to how they are ‘monitoring’ said cables, if you leave something next to a cable, what/how much could it record? Would it pass info on to sub-which would make said box of tricks big as it would need a transmitter and all that involves!!!! I have a slightly different theory, in that said… Read more »

Chris Jones

Aaron on The Sub Brief channel on YouTube has done a very interesting video looking at the Belgorod and Losharik submarines and their modus operandi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtE7ciLS-24

Deep32

Cheers Chris, will take a peek.

julian1

My company lays alot of said undersea cables. As a major European telco, but providing intercontinental connectivity to support large global multi-nationals. There is a small fleet which lays and maintains these cables. Will this be a capability that any other European navy already has?

George

Hi folks hope all is well.
As it appears this is going to be a RN vessel, do any of you know if this going to have any defense capabilities, the crew may well find something disturbing taking place on the seabed, and those responsible for mischief. This could place the vessel and crew at risk.
What do you think
Cheers,
George

Matt

I would like to think so George. Afterall you gotta be able to defend the cables with something right? No point having a ship being there just for ‘presence’ and monitoring surely.
I would say it has to include some kind of armament, whether that’s onboard or delivered by drone. Otherwise the only thing it can do is call in support from a sub hunting specialist.
I’m just not sure… we’ll have to wait and see what developments get announced.
Cheers,
[email protected]

ChariotRider

Hi Matt, I doubt she’ll be armed unless she is expected to operate in waters where pirates operate. More likely she will be able to detect stuff and deal with it after the event. If she detects activity she’d either make a noise to say hello or wait till activity is finished and then move to fix the issue – hopefully swiping any stuff left behind – assuming they can ensure it isn’t booby trapped! This is likely going to all be below the radar stuff and everything will be done to ‘de-escalate’. No one wants to trigger a shooting… Read more »

Herodotus

As Julian wrote ‘shend down James Bond’….but don’t exshpect him to tok’.

Last edited 3 days ago by Herodotus
Herodotus

Do they ever bother to recover the old redundant cables, or are fibre optics not worth the effort?

Sorry, meant this for Julian 1

Last edited 3 days ago by Herodotus
captain p wash

To be honest mate, I’m a tad confused too……….. But I do think that Fibre Optics are the same length as the old Copper stuff….. ?

Gunbuster

I don’t think there is anything weapon wise will go that deep.
So take a photo and post it on twitter and attach a transponder onto the Hull.Track the miscreant back to its home port and embarrass the S**t out of them in the worlds media using all of your new cyber capabilities!

Anyway, the West was tapping Russian cables for decades. The only reason they found out that we where reading their mail was through the USN Walker Spy ring.. Walker was also the reason that USSR/Russian subs suddenly got quiet very quicklyThe great game continues apace….

David Flandry

With a crew of 15, there might be a 20 mm gun or more likely some MG, nothing more.

Rob

Crew of 15…

Captain Pugwash
Master Baits
Seaman Staines
Roger the Cabin Boy
&…
Doc
Sparks
An engine driver
Nav
Purser
2 cooks
4 stokers
= 15

captain p wash

Mate…… You know it makes sense…….

Rob

Run up the colours, grrrr….

Lee H

Afternoon everyone Please have a read of the below: Steller Systems, in partnership with Thales, has developed the TX Ship. This ground-breaking naval trimaran is designed from the outset to operate autonomously but is expected to initially operate with lean manning and a crew of only 15. This gives forward-thinking navies a clear route to gain confidence in, and to move towards, fully unmanned autonomous naval operations. The design, which was officially unveiled at the Maritime Capability Conference at DSEI 2019, is a fully sensorised multi-role platform, capable of operating at reach, alone or as part of a task group.… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Morning mate.

Fascinating stuff. Didn’t the RN look at a trimaran once as part of FSC or something?

I see this is the digital launch only, will take some time to get to reality. The RN MROSS might be an interim conversion to start with.

Chris Jones

Didn’t the RN look at a trimaran once as part of FSC or something?”

Yes you’re quite right Daniele; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RV_Triton

Lee H

Evening Daniele Yep, this is all part of the wider concept(s) being put together. I think the TX design is pretty well advanced so if it were to be advanced to manufacture the timeframe (18 month build) could be met. As Chris mentioned RV Triton (she is still out there) was a launched as a FSC concept demonstrator and risk reduction platform. The US developed theirs further into the Independence Class Littoral Combat Ship, as we can see from that adventure the first 4 of class look like getting decommissioned earlier than planned. MROSS could be a good “interim step”… Read more »

john melling

Saw the news on the TX ship last year and mentioned it a few times in previous pages.
I still think it has the potential to be used as we have various new unmanned tech being bought into use.

James Fennell

This radical Stellar systems / Thales multi-mission design has a crew of 15 https://www.navalnews.com/event-news/dsei-2019/2019/09/dsei-2019-steller-systems-thales-unveil-tx-ship-concept/

Last edited 3 days ago by James Fennell
James Fennell
Last edited 3 days ago by James Fennell
Gunbuster

I posted a similar answer on a similar thread. The current USNS vessel I am dismantling to put back together has a civvy crew of around 15. For specialist ops it embarks additional staff. So divers, UsAV operators and the storage and deoyment gear they need or… Sea lions and Marine Mammals if that is required. ( nice Pictures of Sea Lions and dolphins in the main drag!) Basically you need something like an Oil Rig Supply Vessel with a modular deck cargo securing system and the ability to literally bolt on extra kit such as cranes, A frames and… Read more »

Last edited 3 days ago by Gunbuster
James Fennell

It will be RN – part of droggy flotilla with the Echos and Protector. Crew will come from Scott, which is a deep ocean survey vessel to support submarines due to go out of service next year.

Gunbuster

The RN is going to miss Scott’s mapping capabilities. That was a massive sonar array and it covered a huge swathe of the ocean floor when in operation. I’m supprised that the RN has not got a replacement for it… if for no other reason than generating and selling the electronic charts to mariners that it generated via Taunton.

Klonkie

Hi Gunbuster – high time those lazy dole bludging marine mammals got real jobs like the rest of us! ha ha

Daniele Mandelli

Ha. The west has been tapping cables for decades, Russian and commercial. Ivy Bells springs to mind from the 80’s. The backbone of the network comes ashore in several places in the UK, especially Cornwall. This gives the UK a great advantage. Some are officially labelled as “secret” which is laughable as they are easy to find if one can be bothered to look into it. We intercept them, possibly at the Cable Landing Stations with C&W and BT collusion. I believe they use something called a Deep Packet Sniffer? The data is then sent onto GCHQ Bude ( RPC1… Read more »

Klonkie

Hi Daniele- HMS Conqueror did a similar operation in 1982 (ops barmaid) to nick a soviet towed sonar array- excellent doco on the history channel on this.

Daniele Mandelli

Evening Klonkie.

I’ve not seen it on TV but was aware of the basics of the story. All sorts of intriguing stuff goes on and did the Cold War ever really end? Not for me.

Klonkie

Morning here in NZ. Mate, an inspiring piece of submarine seamanship. God, I miss the 1980’s and properly funded defence forces!.

Chris Jones

An interesting short clip about HMS Conqueror and the controversy around the missing control room log… 30 years later we know it went ‘missing’ probably as a result of wanting to keep Op Barmaid on the QT…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLbguQvJ708

Steve Salt

Yep, the one’s that come ashore near Bude have big red and yellow signs marking their path.
In fact there’s been a French cable layer off the coast here for the past few days.
Laughably ‘secret’.

Daniele Mandelli

That diamond shaped sign at the car park? I know it well lol

Steve Salt

That’s the one, cleverly camouflaged by being painted red and yellow. All that’s missing is a sign saying ‘secret’ 🤣😂🤣

Jonathan

So they are going to call it Mr Oss…..

James Fennell

Ozzy McOssface

Challenger

Any indication whether this will be in addition to a replacement for Scott? 2 ‘research vessels’ were mentioned a few months back.

It would surely be very stupid to not replace Scott with another survey vessel given that the Hydrographic Squadron actually makes money!

Watcherzero

Ok as most people seem to be unaware of this looking at the comments. Tapping of undersea cables if pretty common by advanced navies. In the cat and mouse game of submarines NATO submarines are always trying to keep a constant track of hostile submarines locations, tailing contacts and keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. The Russians for example have a pretty obvious pattern when they are upto mischief, a carrier submarine with a minisub will come in and sit just above a transatlantic cable for several days, an attack submarine will then constantly circle the other submarine while… Read more »

Deep32

Wouldnt ecactly put the Paltus or Lohsharik in the mini sub class, more like small SSNs with a even smaller crew.

Watcherzero

They are however carried by a Delta III mothership.

Deep32

Yes mate, that and a converted O2 are the taxis for said vessels. They need the taxis to get them to the cables mid ocean, and aren’t really designed for long distance travel, more for long endurance ops once in situ.

Mr Bell

Has to be said again.
Integrated defence review leads to further significant cuts to our armed forces.
But to reassure the defence blind general public a vast swathe of announcements on new kit and new ships follows.
Although a survey ship is needed to keep an eye on the pesky Russians. We probably would be better served with a vessel that can not only monitor the Russians but sink any ship or submarine found tampering with our critical underwater infrastructure.

Andrew

Looking forward to see an Artist impression at some point.