HMS Bangor's sea boat meets the US robot boat (Picture: Royal Navy).
Technology

Historic unmanned robot boat drop-off as Navy resupplies on Gulf operations

Crew from minehunter HMS Bangor received supplies to continue their work, thanks to an American unmanned delivery.

HMS Bangor's sea boat meets the US robot boat (Picture: Royal Navy).

A robot boat with nobody on board has successfully delivered supplies to a Royal Navy vessel on operations, for the first time in history.

Equipment was ferried out to HMS Bangor, a minehunter in the Gulf, by a small American boat, enabling the ship's exercise to continue without breaking pace.

The US Seafox vessel has also been used to hunt mines along the sea bed but has now proven its ability to resupply others with supplies, currently no heavier than a weight that can be carried by a human, without putting people at risk.

Strictly speaking, the event was as much a collection as it was a delivery – with minehunter mothership RFA Lyme Bay launching the crewless boat toward HMS Bangor, which in turn sent out its own boat to pick up the goods.

The end goal is for a more convenient drop-off point – closer to the ship in need.

HMS Bangor at sea in the Gulf (Picture: Royal Navy).

"The idea is that a minehunter will be able to be in the middle of a minefield hunting mines and that it wouldn't need to break task to go to replenish – it would be able to be sent stores autonomously towards its position, maintaining minehunting operations," said HMS Bangor Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Rob Couzens.

After 10 days on the exercise, the Navy ship had recovered 17 drill mines and the dive team executed a total of 24 successful dives, as conventional and future minehunting met in the Middle East.