UK Welcomes RFA Proteus – Britain’s First Dedicated Underwater Surveillance Ship

The UK’s first-ever underwater surveillance vessel, RFA Proteus, started service with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (abbreviated RFA) in a ceremony conducted on the Thames London on 10 October.

Proteus is the first one of the two planned Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance (abbreviated MROS) vessels reportedly being acquired by the UK for stringent underwater surveillance and exceptional seabed warfare to be operated by the RFA.

Video Credits: Navy Lookout / YouTube

The ship was bought secondhand by the UK’s Ministry of Defence (abbreviated MoD) from P&O Maritime Logistics’ subsidiary dubbed Topaz Energy and Marine at the end of 2022 and reached Cammell Laird shipyard based in Birkenhead in January this year to undergo much-needed modifications for a new role.

Per the Royal Navy (abbreviated RN), conversion activity was executed in September 2023, after which the vessel completed a short training and trials off the Portland coast ahead of the dedication ceremony.

Developed by Norwegian shipbuilding major Vard back in 2019 as an offshore support vessel named the Proteus was earlier utilized for work in the offshore oil industry for supporting a blend of underwater operations, including the work on oil rigs, maintenance, construction, and inspection activities, as well as autonomous sub-operations.

The vessel can displace 6,000 tons, has a length of about 98.1 m, a beam that measures about 20 m, and will be able to have a crew complement of nearly 26 RFA individuals, boosted by approximately 60 RN experts responsible for supporting undersea surveillance, surveys, as well as warfare systems.

References: Shephard Media, Janes, Navy Leaders

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