The third and final autonomous minehunting boat has been delivered to HMNB Clyde, say the Royal Navy.

According to a Royal Navy news release:

“RNMB Hebe, named after the ancient Greek goddess of youth, has now joined sister vessels Harrier and Hazard as part of the Royal Navy’s crewless minehunting programme Project Wilton. Hebe, four metres longer than her sisters and with more technology on board, is able to work in isolation on operations but also integrated with existing equipment.”

Together, the three vessels are key components in the future of minehunting operations for the navy.

The boats are capable of working in different configurations – manually, remotely or autonomously – to detect and classify mines and maritime ordnance. The Project Wilton team are currently undertaking comprehensive trials and a capability development programme to ensure they are ready to deliver route survey operations.

Lieutenant Commander Ross Balfour, Officer-in-Charge of Project Wilton, was quoted as saying:

“RNMB Hebe is the final piece in the jigsaw of Project Wilton’s maritime capability. The vessel is a 15-metre Vahana boat, four-metres longer than the other Project Wilton vessels. AEUK have made significant upgrades resulting in Hebe having an organic command, control and communications capability which allows the autonomous control of her sister vessel Harrier. 

She also has the ability to operate towed sidescan sonar to map the seabed. Hebe has fantastic potential and we are working diligently to integrate her impressive capabilities with our existing equipment.”

You can read more here.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
43 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Challenger
Challenger
3 months ago

Showing my ignorance hear but are these 3 boats demonstrators to feed into a follow-on capability or are these the actual kind of autonomous platforms that will be conducting mine-hunting on active operations?

yacht hater
yacht hater
3 months ago

200 million from the defence budget being spent on a bloody yacht… that’s nearly the price of a T31…

donald_of_tokyo
donald_of_tokyo
3 months ago
Reply to  yacht hater

Not sure. T31 is £2B program for 5 hulls, average £400M. So, the planned yacht is about a half of the average cost of a T31.

Trevor Holcroft
Trevor Holcroft
3 months ago
Reply to  yacht hater

It’s not a yacht

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
3 months ago

I get the impression that we appear to be dragging our feet on this, always conducting “experiments” and tests, but never quite acquiring capability to start replacing the existing vessels that we know will start to be phased out soon. Meanwhile the Dutch and Belgians are actually procuring some really interesting mother ship/drone combinations. We used to lead the world in MCM capability. I hope we are not about to relinquish that through indecision or neglect

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
3 months ago

Work is progressing well from what I hear. These are in effect prototype/ demonstrators to prove the systems work in real life and to allow the operators to devellope tactics for use. The full on boats will be delivered with lessons learnt from these boats. Most of the systems are in place already to use them as needed and they have undergone a number of worldwide trials already. They are quick, can work 24/7 and don’t need a standeasy or a sports make n mend… . The final systems will have the influence sweep system, sonar systems and the 3… Read more »

Trevor Holcroft
Trevor Holcroft
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Thank you for that it looks encouraging . We have a good story here, but all that comes back is miserable moaning.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Thanks. That’s really useful and encouraging. But we don’t hear enough from the MOD/RN on this. Cinderella service I suppose, but in my book one of the most critically useful and relevant of our capabilities.

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

As much as I see these vessels being the future. I really hope the Navy have thought how not only to use them but also how they will protect them when in use. From the example you gave where they are flown to a hotspot say the Gulf, after a ship has struck a mine in the Straights of Hormuz. What’s to stop the Iranian Republican Guard interfering or sinking these unmanned vessels when in operation? Oops sorry mate didn’t see you, the RPG just went off in my hand! Unless they are shepherded by a manned support vessel, they… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

But that is pretty much the situation now with a manned vessel” Oooops lost control of my boat and plowed into you… “. ” Nahhh… Wasnt our mine…its a Black Flag Op to discredit us” Unmanned you are not risking people… Manned you are risking people. That’s now the big thing… Not putting people in harms way if you can avoid it. If you want to protect the USVs a mother ship will be nearby. Nothing to say you won’t have a drone doing on top surveillance and a Helo or another armed drone flying top cover. The way the… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Yeah, I appreciate that and it will need a whole new mindset to plan and control. However, it has been proven time and again that that when you introduce complex technology it can be beaten by simplistic technology, e.g. helicopter vs RPG. I am not knocking the unmanned mine hunter/sweeper argument as it will be inherently safer than a manned operation.

However, unless the RN make sure these assets are properly protected, it will be too easy for someone to interfere with or at worse destroy and they’ll end up with egg on their face.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
3 months ago

You are right to be sceptical, Richard. I worked at a well known MoD R&D site 30 years ago on a range of UGV Technology Demonstrators, and in some areas we were at least 20 years ahead of civilian industry. [I am not talking about Wheelbarrow EOD robots, but cannot say more]. How many advanced autonomous or tele-operated UGVs do we now have in service?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

A bit like with our UAV demonstrator programmes “informing future decisions” but never quite getting an asset into squadron service?

Andy P
Andy P
3 months ago

If these things don’t have a 76 mil at the pointy end and at least a dozen Sea Ceptor’s I’m going to lose my sh#t, kick the dog and take to drink* !!!!!

*well, maybe have a drink while watching the football.

Nate M
Nate M
3 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

the thing is like the size of a fishing boat so not sure about the dozen ceptor. but as for the football i think there are 2 options….. we make it all the way or lose to sh!t team like N.macodonia in the semis.

Last edited 3 months ago by Nate M
Andy P
Andy P
3 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

OK, 24 Sea Ceptor then.  😉 

I really can’t see Scotland worrying about the macadamias. We’d be nuts to.  😛 

Nate M
Nate M
3 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

come mate we lost to the croatia.

Andy P
Andy P
3 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

YOU might have, WE play them tomorrow.  😀 

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

😂 Scots did ok mate. Gilmour is quality too.

Nate M
Nate M
3 months ago

lol. 1 pts and -2 gd. ya they did ok.  😂 . wonder how they will fair against Croatia.

Last edited 3 months ago by Nate M
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Nate M

I know, but that is how stories are twisted which fits with the “bash England at all costs agenda”
The Scots PLAYED well, that was my point.
Reality is their fans are celebrating like they’ve won the world cup, have not scored yet, and England are likely through to the next round undefeated and with clean sheets so far.

Trevor Holcroft
Trevor Holcroft
3 months ago

Except he has the virus and has managed to infect 2 engsh playersl

David
David
3 months ago

Sea bottom radar… The RN are not telling us something… sure, they might hunt mines but I wonder if they can hunt Rus subs as well.

Andy P
Andy P
3 months ago
Reply to  David

You’d assume that if they can ping mines that they’d be able to ping submarines. That doesn’t mean we would be using them specifically for that although a string of them across narrows would maybe be a cheap(ish) deterrent in an inshore ops situation.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
3 months ago
Reply to  David

The RN are developing unmanned submarines for that, XLUUV said to be the largest unmanned submarine in the world (at 31m even larger than the US 25m Orca XLUUV).

Ron Stateside
Ron Stateside
3 months ago

This is an interesting read Captain:

“The RN claims its new uncrewed MCM systems have already proven to be dramatically faster in operation and can find mines, even in the worst conditions, “five to 10 times faster than current ships”.”

https://www.navylookout.com/autonomous-systems-the-future-of-royal-navy-mine-warfare/

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

My issue is how do they self deploy. They cannot, so needs a mother vessel. Where are they and until they’re built what escort or RFA will do it which could have been elsewhere instead of acting as mother? They can deploy quickly by air. That is a plus, until we remember that’s another task now for the 22 Atlas and 8 C17 to add to the other missions now the Hercs are going. RB convinced me they’d succeed in doing the task, ok, but again assets are limited. I’d imagine some dozens of these will be procured over time… Read more »

Rogbob
Rogbob
3 months ago

Hey, I’m assured A400 will take over given the task lines they have now vs fleet size, but I have my doubts and it requires A400 to come good. We all assume it will 🙂

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Rogbob

Fingers crossed mate. I accepted your explanation, as how can I not, you are in that business, I’m just a researcher in civvy street. I take it and learn and I appreciate the fleet will be utilised more and can carry way way more.

Still long for the Hercs retained or SOMETHING to replace them keeping the numbers up. I’d also like dedicated aircraft for our gold plated assets, our DSF. 😐 

Rogbob
Rogbob
3 months ago

We’d all have liked some MC130s, but thats a Billion plus and it doesnt exist. Plus A400 was ordered on the premise it could do it all. May be BS, but feet to fire moment now!

I wouldnt rule out a change or something new at the next review though…

John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago
Reply to  Rogbob

The A400 has to get it together at some point, just needs more money spent!

Airbus promised an all singing all dancing everything …. Proving difficult to provide though…..

jon
jon
3 months ago

Bay class will be mother I’d have thought, at least until something purpose built comes along.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  jon

Needs to get a move on then, as the Bays are needed for their primary role within the LSG N and LSG E.

Nic
Nic
3 months ago

I agree how many of these will be required to replace the existing mine countermeasures fleet, do they operate in groups of three and how many mother ships will be required and will the mothership have to be unique to the boats.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Nic

I’m not up to speed on this at all, I thought a single “system” included 3 or 4 of the boats with the control stuff.

Motherships probably anything that floats, or from shore.

Nic
Nic
3 months ago

The mothership would probably have to have room to store the three boats and be able facilitate the deployment.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Nic

T26 have mission bay.

Nic
Nic
3 months ago

The only way this can work is that they build or buy ships that will be suitable as motherships, because if they use existing ships then that take them away from the designated roll they have.

steve
steve
3 months ago

Are we putting to many jobs on our RAF transport aircraft and with only limited numbers of aircraft we have at this moment in time and again these will require a mother ship FOR USE and so will the drones will this be cheaper than a manned replacement for the sand down class and hunter class in the long run we can see how the royal navy has decided this as we know the navy has cut manpower by 10 ,000 to 29.000 and are 2000 short are we jumping the gun with automated units and seeing how long it… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
3 months ago
Reply to  steve

The RN Transformation organisation needs to be seen to be believed.
I have seen it and some of the things they are wanting to do and have already done in a very short timescale beggers belief.
From 1SL down everything is up for change. And its not just change for changes sake. There are for the first time I can ever remember actual tangible benefits and capabilities being delivered. And what’s also good is everyone gets some input from the tabletop ping that has been done.

Nic
Nic
3 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Have the Navy looked at any other mine counter measures systems or is going to be the one to replace the present fleet.

steve
steve
3 months ago

when are these boats coming into service with the navy and what do each boat cost and how many will we get we already given two ships to the Ukraine i know we have one laid up and one stored sand down class minesweeper to give but they are coming to the end of their service i hope these new boats will be put into service at the same as they go out but knowing the MOD i don,t have faith that will happen as for the £200 million yacht we could use her as a hospital ship if needed… Read more »

Nic
Nic
3 months ago
Reply to  steve

I suppose it will depend on how the trials go with these boats first , I am not sure if the three boats have to work togeather on a task or if they can operate on an individual task.