World-class autonomous minehunters to protect Royal Navy
World-class autonomous minehunters to protect Royal Navy

Autonomous Minehunting Systems: protecting sailors on the frontline

The Royal Navy is a world leader in mine countermeasures, regularly called upon to deal with mines and other historic materials left over from the Second World War in the UK

In recent times, the Royal Navy has been involved in minehunting operations across the world, including the Gulf and Libya. Traditionally, this has placed our specialist minehunting ships in minefields to locate and destroy any mines. This is a dangerous and often overlooked task that is necessary to ensure the safety of the rest of the fleet.

World-class autonomous minehunters to protect Royal Navy
World-class autonomous minehunters to protect Royal Navy

In an effort to keep ships and personnel away from danger, Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary announced a £184-million investment in the joint Maritime Mine Counter Measure (MMCM) programme, to create new systems to combat sea mines.

Following a successful demonstration phase and trials completed this year, the new contract will produce three sets of minehunting equipment, made up of an autonomous vessel, towed sonar and mine neutralisation system.

World-class autonomous minehunters to protect Royal Navy
World-class autonomous minehunters to protect Royal Navy

Autonomous vessel — a boat controlled and operated from a “mother ship/base.”

Towed sonar — a sonar which is towed/dragged behind the vessel to locate material.

Mine neutralisation system — a remotely operated underwater vehicle which is used once the mine is located to neutralise the device and prevent its detonation.

When used together, these three elements are known as the Primary System. The investment in this next-generation mine hunting capability is designed to protect vital shipping lanes, commercial traffic and personnel from these deadly devices.

While the system will operate remotely and autonomously, our specialist mine warfare personnel and divers will still be involved in planning missions and evaluating data to enable the safe transit of other shipping.

Find out more on current minehunting capability in our Seven things to know about the Royal Navy’s Minehunters blog here.

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