The Royal Navy is testing drones to help rescue sailors who fall overboard.

According to this news release, remotely-piloted systems which locate personnel in the water, drop life-saving equipment and hover over the location until rescuers arrive have been tested extensively by Royal Navy tech experts on Horsea Island and at sea.

“Members of the NavyX team are working out how heavy-lift Minerva drones could deliver potentially life-saving equipment if someone falls overboard. Over the past few months, the team – who are the navy’s experimentation experts – tested the drone both at the Royal Navy’s Diving School at Horsea Island, Portsmouth, and more recently on a civilian boat.

The work was completed with Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and companies Malloy Aeronautics and Planck Aerosystems. First a Minerva T-150 drone was successful in locating a dummy in the water at Horsea Island, deploying a test package which could one day contain a life raft and hovering above the dummy to signpost their location.”

The introduction of a drone means it could be used to fly out to where the person is and hover – making it easier for the ship and seaboat to identify the casualty’s location, say the Royal Navy.

You can read more here.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
18 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mark B
Mark B
3 months ago

Much as I think search and rescue is really important I do tend to get the impression that the top brass are still not taking drones seriously and accepting that they will (like it or not) be key to war fighting in the coming years.

Ludite thinking is still alive and well at the MOD?

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark B

Not the MOD. The Service Staffs!

CAM
CAM
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark B

I am one who strongly believes that autonomous systems should be an enabler, not a replacer. There are new threats emerging where these systems are useful but old threats have not suddenly disappeared. Here we are as an MP said recently: cutting back on our armed forces by 10,000 in the army, reducing the number of tanks, armoured fighting vehicles as well as our Typhoon and F35 fleets and our Hercules heavy lift aircraft… The use of drones in the army especially now shouldn’t come at the expense of our foot soldiers and drones used in the navy shouldn’t be… Read more »

AlexS
AlexS
3 months ago
Reply to  CAM

I am afraid the issue is that the drone replacement will not be like for like.
Worse, there also the issue with so called money for cyber, new tech etc. How can you check if the Government is doing anything if anyone has no way to check. You can see that Nimrod, etc was failure because it was a product that was announced. If you don’t announce anything except a fuzzy “cyber” how can that be checked ?

CAM
CAM
3 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

It’s so true isn’t it. But as I’ve said before, it shouldn’t be that we can’t afford hulls because we’re spending so much on cyber and new tech. We have responsibilities in the Caribbean, Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, East Africa, the Middle East, the North Sea and now also the Arctic and a tilt to the Indo-Pacific so we need vessels. Cyber security and some of this tech can’t replace that but as I’ve said before, I’m not against autonomous systems it’s just that the’re sometimes put before things that we I believe need like hulls.

Mark B
Mark B
3 months ago
Reply to  CAM

The UK, our allies and our enemies will be able to do things with drones that you can’t do today. That suggests gaps in our defences and gaps in the enemies defences. Let’s not wait until we get into a scrap to drive this point home.

We should have an excellent R&D capability which seems to be being talked about but are we getting results.

Nobody is saying we don’t need tanks, or aircraft etc. we do but we also need to stay at the cutting edge.

CAM
CAM
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark B

Absolutely, we need to stay cutting edge but should that be the reason we can’t afford more hulls? With responsibilities in the Caribbean, Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, East Africa, the Middle East, the North Sea and now also the Arctic and a tilt to the Indo-Pacific we need hulls, we need vessels. I somehow can’t think that cyber security is going to be able to do much for us in places like that.

Mark B
Mark B
3 months ago
Reply to  CAM

This seems to be an age old question. In my view we need hulls and weapons just like you need guns and ammunition. In the scheme of things drones are cheap and have an endless number of uses especially on th smaller ships.

CAM
CAM
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark B

That’s very true

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark B

The RN Transformation updates are heavily favouring Drone usage. The RN Top Brass is pushing for it in a big, big way

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

And the money is following the modernisation/transformation agenda.

Steve
Steve
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark B

I think the issue is that they are the future but not necessity the current. I am reading about a lot of drones that appear to be in search for a use, rather than ones being designed to solve a real problem. I just don’t think the tech is quiet where it needs to be to really solve military problems beyond basic situational awareness through cameras.

Jeremiah Jones
Jeremiah Jones
3 months ago

Which department will man them on RN ships? WAFUs or more techy ratings such as CIS.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremiah Jones

As not every ship has a flight it won’t be woo’s. Probable maintained by WE’s operated by Bridge staff as they currently do MOB… Most people on the bridge or Ops Dept.

Ron Stateside
Ron Stateside
3 months ago

The choice to go with autonomous systems might not be ours to make in some cases.

I’m no expert, but if you put a dozen tanks on a battlefield and they get surrounded by kill-capable loitering munitions that cost $100K each, what choice will we have?

We should be developing and getting into service these systems now.

AlexS
AlexS
3 months ago
Reply to  Ron Stateside

Indeed.

Mark B
Mark B
3 months ago
Reply to  Ron Stateside

Well said.

The UK have fallen short on kit to withstand roadside bombs etc.in the past. Small drones made in someones garden shed could easily create similar issues. We need to be able to counter that and trial our own kit which might prove highly effective in certain areas.

JohnG
JohnG
3 months ago

“Man overboard!… he’s dead Jim” some things I think drones will be excellent for, others not so much