The ‘Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance Ship’ project was originally for a vessel to protect the UK’s critical underwater infrastructure. Two ships are now planned.
The image above is the RSS David Attenborough and is a stock photo only as we do not have any concept images of the new ships.
Addressing the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“This week we saw the mysterious damage inflicted on the Nord Stream pipeline, and it should remind us all how fragile our economy and infrastructure are in the face of such hybrid attacks. Our intention is to protect them; our internet and our energy are highly dependent on pipelines and cables.
Russia does not hide its ability to target such infrastructure, and it is for this reason that I can announce that we have recently committed to two specialized vessels capable of ensuring the security of our cables and pipelines. The first multi-role survey vessel for deep sea warfare will be purchased by the end of this year, outfitted here in the UK and operational by the end of next year. The second ship will be built in the UK and we plan to ensure that it covers all of our vulnerabilities.
The Ministry of Defense had indicated last year that the ship (only one was planned at the time, let us recall), which will enter service by 2024, will be a surface ship with a crew of around 15 people. The crew will conduct research to help the Royal Navy and Ministry of Defense protect critical national infrastructure underwater.
It might not be as new as you think, but at least we have confirmation.
Background and considerations: New RN vessel to protect submarine cables: https://t.co/yO3frx2uJK
Note: 1SL referred to “two ocean surveillance vessels” in their Fleet Christmas video speech. pic.twitter.com/cEQQxLoDUr
— Navy Lookout (@NavyLookout) March 21, 2021
According to a Royal Navy press release last year:
“Submarine cables are vital to the global economy and communications between governments. Undersea warfare poses a particular risk of sabotage of submarine cable infrastructure – an existential threat to the UK. The ship will be fitted with advanced sensors and will carry a number of remote-controlled, autonomous underwater drones that will collect data to help protect our people and our way of life with operations in UK and international waters.
The ships will also be able to support other defense tasks, including exercises and operations in the Arctic, which will become an increasingly contested area. The cables are crucial for government-to-government communications and the new capacity will protect the interests of the UK and its partners and allies. The new ship is being developed as part of an overall modernization of the armed forces which will be unveiled in the Defense Command Document tomorrow. As part of the Government’s Integrated Review, the Prime Minister has pledged to invest in technologies and capabilities to protect Britons against new and evolving threats.