Underwater Surveillance Ship to Enhance UK Protection

The Royal Navy’s RFA Proteus will have undersea surveillance, survey and warfare systems, and will be home to a suite of specialist capabilities for advancing science and technology By Abi Wylie / 24 Oct 2023
Underwater Surveillance Ship to Enhance UK Protection
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The RFA Proteus has been launched by the Royal Navy, dedicated to underwater surveillance in areas of UK sovereign interest.

The ship will serve as a launchpad for remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) and as a home to a suite of specialist capabilities similar to those found in the oil and gas industries.

The ship will be operated by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), the crucial support arm of the Royal Navy. 

Proteus will serve as a testbed for advancing science and technological development enabling the UK to maintain the competitive edge beneath the waves.

It has been 11 months since the MOD committed to invest in Proteus as the first ship in its Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance (MROS) programme.

Since arriving at the Cammell Laird yard in Birkenhead in January, the 6,000-tonne vessel has undergone conversion and alterations ready for her unique mission.

Crewed by 26 Royal Fleet Auxiliary officers and sailors, augmented by 60 Royal Navy specialists responsible for the undersea surveillance, survey and warfare systems, the ship began life as an oil rig-support vessel.

The ship left Merseyside last month to undergo trials and training off Portland before heading to the capital to berth alongside iconic wartime cruiser HMS Belfast for today’s service of dedication.

Proteus is equipped with a flight deck and a 1,000-square metre cargo deck, plus a heavy-duty crane for lifting and lowering operations.

Commodore David Eagles, head of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, said; “It is a huge honour and responsibility for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary to be charged with crewing and operating RFA Proteus and delivering her unique, sovereign capability in partnership and collaboration with our Royal Navy, Defence and Government agency colleagues.

“Bringing a ship into service is a demanding endeavour which relies on a diverse, multi-skilled team, strong leadership, and unflinching determination. Proteus is no different and I pay tribute to the men and women in the UK, military and civilian who have contributed to this project and made today possible.”

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