RFA Stirling Castle, the newest addition to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary flotilla and the future of Royal Navy minehunting, has completed her military conversion and is now set to undergo trials.
The ship arrived in Devonport four months ago as MV Island Crown, but will now undergo training with the few dozen crew learning how she handles and how to operate the systems on the ship.
Captain Ali Clack, RFA Stirling Castle's first Commanding Officer, said the emphasis is currently on learning how to run and maintain the 6,000-tonne vessel.
"Getting under way with crew for the first time is a significant milestone in RFA Stirling Castle's transition into service," he said.
"The ship's company have worked together fantastically to reach this milestone. Let the trials commence!"
When operational, the ship will become the mothership for crewless mine warfare systems, operated by Royal Navy personnel.
The sailors will launch and recover the devices, as well as analyse the data they gather while searching for mines and underwater explosive devices.
This will see RFA Stirling Castle replace traditional mine-hunting by using the uncrewed devices, including the joint French-UK Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) system, the Combined Influence Sweep (SWEEP) system and Medium Underwater Autonomous Vehicles (MAUVs).
The goal of using the new technology is to search more extensive stretches of sea and remove the potential threat to Navy personnel, although training for that is later in the year.
Meanwhile, with overboard drills the first set of training conducted in Plymouth Sound, Stirling Castle launched her two boats – Ketchup (bright red) and Mustard (yellow) – to recover the accident-prone mannequin used to simulate the rescue of a sailor.