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Royal Navy to Use Unmanned Minehunters on Frontline Duties Soon

Unmanned minehunters and survey technology will soon be on frontline duties with the Royal Navy, the service announced.

According to a statement released by the Navy, the specialist autonomous kit has now been handed over into military service and will be on live operations from March.

The remotely operated kit, including submersibles and boats designed to hunt down mines and also analyse the oceans and seafloor, will be deployed from HMNB Clyde in Faslane, Scotland. The sailors trained for the mission will also be stationed at HMNB Clyde.

“With equipment and personnel now operating on the Clyde, the transition to widespread use of autonomous systems in mine countermeasures (MCM) is becoming a reality and places the Royal Navy MCM community at the cutting edge”, said Commodore Mike Knott, Assistant Chief of Staff Maritime Capability.

Initial operations are now being carried out by Project Wilton, the name for the Royal Navy’s unmanned mine hunting and survey endeavours.

Project Wilton currently has three boats – two remote-controlled Atlas Elektronik UK (AEUK) ARCIMS (ATLAS Remote Combined Influence Minesweeping System) unmanned surface vessel (USV) and the other manned – as well as multiple unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). The unmanned vehicles in the system include Kongsberg Maritime/Hydroid REMUS Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and Ocean Modules V8 M500 Intervention Remotely Operate Vehicle (ROV).

A Kongsberg Maritime/Hydroid REMUS Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and an Ocean Modules V8 M500 Intervention Remotely Operate Vehicle (ROV) equipped with a Cobra mine disposal tool
A Kongsberg Maritime/Hydroid REMUS Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and an Ocean Modules V8 M500 Intervention Remotely Operate Vehicle (ROV) equipped with an Atlas Elektronik UK Cobra mine disposal tool. Royal Navy Photo.

This new unmanned minehunting kit will supplement the Royal Navy’s current mine-hunting missions carried out by the Hunt and Sandown classes of manned mine countermeasures ships.

The work builds on the ongoing trials of unmanned and autonomous technology carried out by the Navy, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).



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