A new 500-tonne ‘Special Purpose Vessel’ will arrive in Portsmouth next month to be prepared for her role as a trials platform.

Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham, asked:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when the Special Purpose Vessel is expected to be operational.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, responded:

“The Special Purpose Vessel is currently scheduled to arrive in Portsmouth in late July 2022. She will then be prepared for her role as a trials platform.”

As I reported previously, the vessel of around 500 tonnes will be procured through a £9m contract and will support trials for “autonomy development”.

The contract specifications describe a steel vessel with a draught of 3.5m, top speed of 20 knots, a range of 2500 nautical miles, a crew of 6 and with the ability to tow small boats such as RHIBs.

In addition, the vessel is expected to have a crane and a working deck able to accommodate 2×40 foot ISO containers or 2x 20-foot ISO containers.

While the vessel will also be expected to be autonomous in future, the contract specification makes clear that the functional integration of technology provided to enable the autonomous behaviours of the platform are excluded from this current contract but that the contractor should support the physical integration of this equipment in future.

The statement of requirements are relatively vague but do state that NavyX (that’s the part of the Royal Navy that typically deals with experimental projects like this) require a small ‘Fast Crew Vessel’ style ship to serve as a testbed and trials ship for the Royal Navy.

The vessel is expected to be transferred to the Royal Navy by the 31st of March 2022.

What’s the list of specs?

The vessel should not have had any previous owners other than the vessel’s builder (or other owner while vessel is in build only). The vessel should already exist and be suitable for ownership to transfer in the timelines given below.
Vessel length less than 48m LOA
A speed of 20 knots be achievable in light displacement
A fuel range of 2500 nautical miles at most efficient speed should be achievable
Vessel to have a gross tonnage of less than 500 GT.
The vessel should have a maximum draft of 3.5m.
The vessel can berth and unberth unaided from its nominated berth.
The vessel should be capable of towing small vessels (such as 12m RHIB).
The vessel’s primary machinery (prime movers, gearboxes, rudders etc) will where possible be controlled using digital interfaces.
The vessel will have a digital autopilot system.
Primary hull structure should be steel. Other materials can be used elsewhere in the vessel (for example superstructure).
The vessel be able to provide electrical power to the aft deck.
The vessel be able to be modified to provide fresh water to the deck.
The vessel be able to be fitted with a crane suitable of lifting 3.5 tonnes at 4.5m of distance.
The working deck be at least 120m2.
The working deck be able to accommodate 2×40 foot ISO containers or 2x 20-foot ISO containers.
The vessel is to have an open stern of suitable strength for the deployment of vessel appropriate equipment over the stern.
The working deck shall have a load carrying capacity of at least 2 tonne/m2.

An example I’ve used to illustrate the type of vessel above is somewhat of a close match to the requirements, it’s a ‘Fast Crew Boat’ from Strategic Marine. You can read more about it here to give you a taste of what the finished product could look like.

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Steve
Steve
1 month ago

I’m guessing these will be used for the Persistent Operational Deployment System (PODS) as well as drones.

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

The requirements for being able to host ISO Containers strongly suggests that.

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
1 month ago

Good to hear that this project hasn’t died since it was first announced. If nothing else, it should give insights into how to rapidly integrate stuft vessels into the fleet.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago

I wonder what ship they got. I thought it would be difficult as it says has to be unused but built or in build. Maybe ship yards do build ships in hopes of finding a buyer later. I know nothing of this area. From the news they must have a ship.

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

My guess is that they had a suitable candidate lined up and the tender was purely to stay within the legal requirements.

MatthewG
MatthewG
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

It’s a merchant design, for offshore industry, quite a small one, no doubt the docks had another contract fall through and sold it on to next bidder.

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

The Tender description is to detail and would suggest that a Hull had been sourced or more like a cancelled order, for a support vessel that could meet these requirements.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago

Or perhaps an autonomous vessel for detecting ( via drones), a rubber dinghy, hooking it up and taking it back from whence it came….

Might I venture HMS Golden Retriever….

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago

Was anyone else disturbingly excited to read the headline ? Have to say the article was a slight disappointment but still embarrassingly happy. 😳

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Just as long as RN don’t send it on a Special Operation….

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago

😂😂

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago

Don’t mention ” the special Operation” JohninMk will magically turn up like the shop keeper in Mr Ben.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Well if it was Arkwright you could understand the Russian logistical problems with getting hold of four candles?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

😆

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago

🤣🤣

Mark
Mark
1 month ago

Got any P’s?

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Or hoes

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Fork handles ?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Well the Russians will have ordered 4 candles to power their Uber laser exterminator gizmo that nobody else in the world has but they will have been stumped by the arrival of a box of fork handles.

It is the only logical reason why Mad Vlad’s new vaunted master-of-the-universe laser system is not featuring?

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

😂😂. Yes but give russia 2 weeks and they will have made those fork handles hypersonic and able to dig 10,000 miles of trench in an hour.

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

but 20 miles from where they wanted them to land.

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago

And as per their usual logistics experience it will go to the wrong place

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The Troll factory in St P will be scratching their heads on this. Takes a Brit to get it.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

I would also say a Brit of a certain age as well. 😂

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

We are of that certain age I was awarded the Pistonbroke trophy which was a broken Piston does sound like Pissed and Broke ill get my Coat Johnathan

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

I bet We’ve all been pissed and broke at one time or another. You know it’s been a good session when you end up pissed and broke three towns over with no way to get back.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Or getting on the overnighter to Rosyth from Euston and waking up on the way to Inverness whoops damn that Tennants Super another great Scottish export

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

Try Czech beer in Slovakia, night train and waking up in Poland… er… with plane leaving Vienna that afternoon.

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

I got the golden rivet

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  andy reeves

Andy ,in today’s Navy it seems its no longer an offence just a 200 pound fine for on board melarkies

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago



Simon
Simon
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

😂😂

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Maybe it will be used too break the blockade and free the trapped Grain ships of odessa well it did say Special ops in the headline that should give Kudos to Boris John

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

Russia has emptied those silos and will destroy them before walking out.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  johan

TOO yrue JohanThey’ve probable shipped the grain to China too grease their palms with a cash flow and yes those Grain Silos will be destroyed and of course it will be classed as Ukrainian Asov guerrilla Sabotage, not Liberating Federation peacekeepers who would never do anything to the Civilan inferstructer our hands are Clean as Peacekeepers yeah right

MatthewG
MatthewG
1 month ago

It’s got passenger seat and Rescue areas ideal for English Channel crossings I notice….

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Yeh, its a trials vessel. So unlikely to carry any weapons as it will probably host mixed navy / civilian trials teams from time to time. Also as it is a civilian vessel taken into the fleet it will not be built to naval standards so only civilian damage control capabilities – definately not want you want in a fight..! I think George got a bit carried away with the battery of 3x 50cal machine guns on the foredeck rail 😃 Nevertheless, a trials ship in the RN gives a strongh signal that the RN is serious about getting new… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Agreed. A very unimportant looking ship that may well have a very important role to play in the future of the RN.

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

will it be be grey and a H.M.S?if an archer can be a h.m.s then a coracle can.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  andy reeves

You’re as mad as a box of frogs ! I like it. 😁

Last edited 1 month ago by David Steeper
MatthewG
MatthewG
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

You know ships like RFA mounts and others classes. HMS Clyde, HMS protector etc. Are all built to Merchsnt standards. You’ll actually find they had to up their standards to meet Lloyds Register level….

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  MatthewG

Gangster level more like

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  andy reeves

I do like a Cornish pasty Andy

johan
johan
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Don’t forget Ocean was built to Civilian standards. and yet was RN asset. guessing this is more designed and built as a research vessel.

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  johan

And the sister was never built

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

David. It shows how desperate the RN hull numbers have become when we all get excited about the prospect of any and every new vessel. This ship could be a future dreadnought moment. Heralding in a brave new world of drones. Unmanned mine clearance. Unmanned sub surface patrol. Unmanned surface patrol and interception. Unmanned fast attack. UAVs etc. All courtesy of PODS. The exciting issue for me would be what a fleet of 30 or 50 such vessels could deliver in terms of operational capability costing just £9 million each. So 50 of these or 1 type 32? There is… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Good points. The only thing we can be sure of is big change is coming.

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

sooner hear about proper ships all this r/d stuff goes over my head

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  andy reeves

R and D is 4yrs of head scratching ,mass’s of paperwork then screwing all the results up and throwing it in the bin and Shouting “Next” and into day’s working from home era it won’t be long for building boats in your Basement whoops

Simon
Simon
1 month ago

Publicity for a covert vessel.
The picture looks like it might blend in with the oligarch yachts, is that the mission?

Sean
Sean
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon

Maybe we’ve repurposed one of the oligarch yachts that we’ve seized? There would be a poetic irony about that 😆

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

Very 007

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Sean

Use it as an alternative to the Gosport ferry

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  andy reeves

So long as the Gosport Ferry can sell duty free Ciggies and booze

DRS
DRS
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon

Seems a standard look now for a oil and gas vessel, I guess they wanted to glam it up too 🙂

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon

I’m watching for more information on the Maddox boat

Farouk
Farouk
1 month ago

I hear the captain “Steve Martin “ is a right jerk. I’ll get me coat.

Dave Wolfy
Dave Wolfy
1 month ago
Reply to  Farouk

Maybe, he will be sending extra money home.

Farouk
Farouk
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Wolfy

DW wrote:
Maybe, he will be sending extra money home.

Oh, thats because he’s been promised another job.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Farouk

Don’t worry about that ,Farouk ,I had too use my 2 brains too work out what you meant I’ll get my coat and brolly

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

wasn’t that two brain cells?

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  andy reeves

Hee Hee , I’ll have too ask Steve Martin that no need for a brolly just my coat Andy

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Farouk

And don’t call me Shirley

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  andy reeves

You don’t mean that surly

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Will she be an HMS? And if so, the name?

Sean
Sean
1 month ago

My guess would be something like “RV” for Research Vessel, as they did with the RV Triton.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

Can we fit her with a 40mm and Harpoon?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

It’s an outrage. 👍

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

missiles in the continers and use it as a stand in for the gosport ferry.

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago

h.m.s budget eater.

barry white
barry white
1 month ago

Is Portsmouth the only base in the UK ?
It seems so as everything seems to go there to be commissioned or de-commissioned
And if you read the media even back 40 years ago all ships who went south left from Porstmouth

Orcman
Orcman
1 month ago
Reply to  barry white

No, but it is the main base for Surface Fleet and MCM’s, also the home of FOST and DERA (QinetiQ) is local.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  barry white

Chin up mate, I know you carry the flag for Devonport.

Basic training, Amphibs & RM, ASW escorts, much of FOST, and survey vessels are still down at Devonport or in the Plymouth area.

With a vastly smaller RN most of the rest bar the silent service and the FAA is indeed around Pompey, with the Fleet HQ, so maybe that’s why it gets most coverage?

MatthewG
MatthewG
1 month ago
Reply to  barry white

Portsmouth has electronic warfare engineering companies for outfitting ships nearby I believe.

barry white
barry white
1 month ago
Reply to  MatthewG

And Plymouth has just built and sent an autonomous vessel across the Atlantic
Not only that How do you think all the ships that get refitted get sorted out with electronics?

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  barry white

21s were Guzz based , Barry and some of the Leanders, Pompey had the Carriers Landing ships DLGs, 42s, 82, and some Leanders it’s just nearer for the News crews from London too get their Pictures Marchwood had the RFA Roundtable Class no one bothered filming them but 40 yrs later Today infact the Local BBC had a film crew there for a memorial service for Galahad and Tristrum

barry white
barry white
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

I was on RFA Regent and we left Plymouth at the same time as HMS Ardent along with a sub of which i dont know the name of
As we were slipping the cable from the buoy (and still had a barge alonside us still loading) the Ardent sent a message of to us (by morse light ) saying something on the lines of “Good luck in the S Atlantic” and we know what happend then

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  barry white

Thanks Barry ,very poignant Last night on BBC South today they interviewed the Captain of the Galahad really felt for him poor man

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

should have kept portland and chatham open

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  andy reeves

Weymouth took a hit when we pulled out ,Along with Chatham .I don’t think k holiday makers can match Jack on a run ashore ,

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

This will be good learning for both the T32 and the new minewarfare vessels. As well as improving the utility of the type 31s and Rivers. Good to see the RN going all guns for what will be a seminal moment in Navel warfare. I see unmanned autonomous vehicles as being as great a step change in navel warfare as the introduction of navel air power or the reciprocating stream engine.

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
1 month ago

George, the link to the Strategic Marine page is now 404 and their website no longer carries the image you used. I wonder if there’s anything to be read into that?

DRS
DRS
1 month ago

If you look on one of the oil and gas ships page you can still find something looking very similar either a gen 3/4 fast crew boat.

https://www.strategicmarine.com/product/42m-gen-4-fast-crew-boat/

But it does need sharks with laser beams swimming along for that complete Experimental Vehicle In Low Waters (EVIL-W) look.

MatthewG
MatthewG
1 month ago
Reply to  DRS

Identical bar the paint job.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  DRS

Thanks DRS, sorry, I should have quoted you in too.

Jonno
Jonno
1 month ago

For securing our borders?

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonno

Not unless the trials involve robot judges and asylum seekers.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

And a teleporter to beam them all directly to Rwanda. Utterly disgusting.
Simple answer is to extradite them all back to France from whence they came.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Build a wall. Build a wall. Or big water cannons on the coast. Knock a migrant off a boat and win a teddy. Put up a big wheel, waltzers it’s a day out for the family. Obviously would have rescue boats we are not animals. They throw a ring an tow them to France at a rate of knots. Drop them 50m off the beach. Ive got another crazy idea. Labour shortage in the U.K. for certain areas. Ask a migrant/asylum seeker what skills they have. Give them some training/familiarisation training and trial. If they can do it ok they… Read more »

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

buy and adapt a fishing boat from grimsby rig it as a mine layer and ow a field off calais

MatthewG
MatthewG
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonno

Yes literally a personnel transfer and Rescue vessel so would be ideal fit. The border force also have new high capacity passenger vessels this year.

Coll
Coll
1 month ago

I wonder if this will be an experimental ship to help test the idea of the ghost fleet.

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  Coll

could carry the DSRV craft.

David
David
1 month ago

Now, now! Can’t be showing all those .50 cal machine guns; those are FFBNW.

Sorry, couldn’t resist!

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Way too many this time!

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Will a 500 ton Hull be capable of accommodating a triple 16inch turret as well as the 50cals FFBNW ? David

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  David

fire hoses

Richard Chivers
Richard Chivers
1 month ago

Where was it built and by whome ?

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago

Sorry, I have to bring this up again. Those multiple gun mounts look silly and are unprotected below the gun line. Why not a RWS on the front?

DMJ
DMJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

It’s just an example image from a company in Singapore! People in this site always seem to jump to conclusions when such images are used in articles.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 month ago
Reply to  DMJ

The number of guns is totally stupid! The rest is fine. If you go to the Strategic Marine website above and look under Military Vessels you’ll see where this image comes from. The only thing that’s different is the colour scheme and the guns. Leave the guns off would be better. Sorry, it just gets up my goat!

Expat
Expat
1 month ago

Not related but this is interesting. But not sure why we publish all this info.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/defence-science-and-technology-programmes-and-projects

Last edited 1 month ago by Expat
Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Expat

I think that’s explained by this sentence:

“Predominantly, the following programmes and projects will be delivered by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), but partners in industry and academia will be crucial to delivery with significant funding available and opportunities to collaborate.”

Expat
Expat
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

It’s the academia part that worries me just recently there was a report that China has bought considerable influence with in UK universities.

MatthewG
MatthewG
1 month ago

Ao the Royal Navy bought a small coastal merchant vessel, manned it like Merchant Navy with 6 crew and then called it autonomous. Merchant navy has been doing minimum manning for decades.

barry white
barry white
1 month ago

Why are you censoring my post
Its nothing wrong with it and it is about autonomous vessels?

andy reeves
andy reeves
1 month ago
Reply to  barry white

this new gadget, that new fantasy vessel, but still no warshipcomissioned. is the money going to the right places?

johan
johan
1 month ago

Wind farm offshore support vessel SOV T60-18

goggle that and you will find the thing

Just Me
Just Me
13 days ago
Reply to  johan

It’s not that one, it’s a Damen 42m FCS

Boats
Boats
13 days ago

Its this one

Fast Crew Supplier 4008