Navy

Royal Navy welcomes new testbed ship XV Patrick Blackett into service

The vessel will be used by NavyX to "accelerate new technology, kit and concepts to the frontline".

The Royal Navy's new unique testbed ship, XV Patrick Blackett, has been welcomed into the service with a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The 42m, 270-tonne ship is named after the former Royal Navy sailor and Nobel Prize winner, Patrick Blackett.

She has been bought for use by the Navy's experimentation and innovation experts NavyX as a platform for trials and experimentation with new technologies.

With the addition of the XV (Experimental Vessel) Patrick Blackett, NavyX will be able to carry out more trials at sea to enhance the fleet's operations and look to ensure the UK stays at the leading edge of naval warfare.

XV Patrick Blackett will enable NavyX to experiment without the need to place a demand on other Navy ships, many of which are deployed permanently away from UK waters. She will also offer the chance to work closely with industry and academia partners.

Damen Shipyards, in the Netherlands, won the contract for the test ship which can reach speeds of 20 knots and has been modified to support NavyX operations.

The ship has a crew of five Royal Navy personnel.

She will have a 'plug and play' element to support the Navy's new PODS (Persistently Operationally Deployed Systems) concept which means it can be adapted to the specific trials or experiments it is carrying out including testing drones and autonomous vessels and AI decision-making.

NavyX chose to name the ship XV Patrick Blackett to honour the British physicist who won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1948 29072022 CREDIT Royal Navy
NavyX chose to name the ship after Patrick Blackett (pictured), a Nobel Prize winner who made a major contribution in the Second World War advising on military strategy and developing operational research (Picture: Royal Navy).

In the future, XV Patrick Blackett will take part in Royal Navy and NATO exercises, with the possibility of it being upgraded with autonomous technology.

Colonel Tom Ryall RM, Head of Royal NavyX, told Forces News: "We seek to trial, test, and experiment with equipment quickly, to see if it's viable or otherwise.

"Having our own platform like this allows us to really turbocharge that experimentation with our own means, under our own steam, to deliver output for the Royal Navy."

Space on board has been designed to allow for equipment. Five Royal Navy personnel will crew the ship, which will go on NATO exercises.

Rear Admiral James Parkin, Fleet Future Capability Director, said: "This is the first time in recent years that we've had a dedicated platform on which to do the experiments that we need to do, in order to make the fleet ready to fight in the future."

NavyX chose to name the ship XV Patrick Blackett to honour the British physicist who won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1948.

He served in the Royal Navy in the First World War and made a major contribution in the Second World War advising on military strategy and developing operational research – being named the Admiralty's first director of Operational Research.

First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sir Ben Key joined Patrick Blackett's granddaughter, distinguished guests, friends and family as XV Patrick Blackett was named.