Royal Navy Unveils First Digital Laboratory

The new facility means the Navy now has its own delivery team who can help solve a wide range of problems.

The Royal Navy has opened its first digital laboratory which could make it an "even better fighting force", according to the First Sea Lord. 

The laboratory was unveiled by Admiral Tony Radakin in Portsmouth and is home to 'Programme Nelson ', the Royal Navy's digital data and artificial intelligence capability.

The Senior Service now has its own delivery team who can help solve a wide range of problems. 

"It's quite frightening to think of the scale of opportunities that we could get involved in," said Lieutenant Commander Jim Briscoe, manager of Programme Nelson.

"We could get involved in an automated survey of a ship's hull so that we properly understand the material state of that ship and understand where the worst corrosion patterns are happening.

"The captain [of HMS Queen Elizabeth] never at one time knows exactly where his crew are, so that's a problem that could be solved with technology." 

The team, which was formed two years ago, can also analyse radar, fuel consumption and even figure out when a helicopter requires servicing.

HMS Queen Elizabeth sets sail from Portsmouth 300819 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY
Lieutenant Commander Briscoe said new technology could help locate members of staff on board HMS Queen Elizabeth (Picture: MOD).

Ben Belward from the team said they are "developing applications that are helping with fuel efficiency across the fleet" and "understanding how we can help maintain Wildcat helicopters in a different way".

"A key thing here is about data and artificial intelligence, so the team here is building a software platform that will allow the Navy to better use its data and join it up from across different ships and different parts of the organisation," he said.

"The idea there being that if they have that data, we can then make more decisions and plan more effectively." 

There are plans to have teams from Programme Nelson embedded into every area of the Royal Navy to help solve problems and improve efficiency.