In a ceremony held at Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth on 29 July, the UK’s Royal Navy ‘NavyX’ innovation team took delivery of a modified Damen Fast Crew Supplier (FCS) 4008.

Named XV Patrick Blackett after a distinguished naval officer and scientist, the 42m high-speed vessel will have a crew of five and will be used as a trials ship, supporting  innovation and experimentation with novel technologies.

NavyX, the Royal Navy’s innovation, autonomy and lethality accelerator which has been established to rapidly develop, test and trial cutting-edge equipment, ran an open tender process which resulted in an order being placed with Damen Shipyards in the Netherlands earlier this year for the delivery of an FCS 4008.

XV Patrick Blackett will be used as a platform for the assessment of a wide variety of equipment. Its 140 square meters of deck space provides a large, unobstructed area for UAVs, AUVs and other cutting edge technology.

The extensive internal area that would normally have seating for up to 100 personnel is being converted into an operations centre and a meeting room. Four caterpillar engines will give it a top speed of more than 20 knots.

Other characteristics of the FCS 4008 that are important to NavyX include the stability and excellent seakeeping that comes with the Damen X-bow design, important when deploying equipment into the sea or air.

Damen is also providing a comprehensive, three-year support package that will centre on the Service Hub that Damen set up recently in Portsmouth and which has proved to be a big success.

Locally recruited personnel will maintain the vessel using local content where possible and knowledge will be transferred to ensure sustainability.

Her introduction into the fleet will enable NavyX to experiment without the need to place demands on Royal Navy warships and, in the future, she will take part in Royal Navy and NATO exercises as well as increase opportunities to work more closely with industry and academia.

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