Debut for UK Royal Navy's new experimental vessel

by Richard Scott

XV Patrick Blackett was formally named at Portsmouth on 29 July. (Richard Scott/NAVYPIX)

The UK Royal Navy's (RN) new trials and autonomy development vessel XV Patrick Blackett has arrived at Portsmouth ahead of beginning test and trials operations with the service's NavyX innovation unit later this year.

Built by Damen Shipyards at its Gorinchem yard in the Netherlands, XV Patrick Blackett is a 41.2 m FCS 4008 fast crew supply vessel adapted post-build for the trials development role.

The vessel was procured off-the-shelf in February 2022 under a GBP9.3 million (USD11.2 million) contract, which also includes a three-year support package; accepted off contract at the end of March, the vessel was role-modified by Damen before arriving in Portsmouth Naval Base on 27 July. The ship was formally named in a ceremony on 29 July.

The FCS 4008 is a standard Damen design powered by four Caterpillar C32 Acert diesels for a speed more than 20 kt. Important features include an X-bow designed to reduce pitch accelerations, and a 140 m 2

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Damen positions for potential UK/Netherlands amphibious ship requirement

by Richard Scott

Damen sees its Enforcer family of amphibious ship designs providing the basis for a joint UK/Netherlands acquisition programme. (Damen Naval)

Dutch shipbuilding group Damen is pitching its Enforcer amphibious ship family as the basis for a potential joint UK/Netherlands amphibious ship acquisition.

Enforcer is a scaled portfolio of landing platform dock (LPD) designs, ranging from 120 to 180 m in length, designed for the transport and offload of an embarked military force using both surface connecters and helicopters. Damen Naval – the naval shipbuilding division of Damen Shipyards Group – has already commenced preliminary discussions with potential UK industry partners.

The UK and Netherlands governments in late June this year signed a statement of intent (SoI) to explore opportunities to develop a common littoral strike platform to address both UK Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) requirements in the early 2030s. The RN has laid out plans for the acquisition of up to six Multi Role Support Ship (MRSS) vessels to replace the two Albion-class LPDs, three Bay-class landing ship dock (auxiliary) – LSD(A) – vessels, and the primary casualty receiving ship RFA Argus

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Heinen & Hopman to supply HVAC-R and CBRN filter systems for Dutch/Belgian ASW frigates

by Kate Tringham

The new class of the ASWFs is planned to enter service with the Netherlands and Belgian navies from 2029 to 2031. (Damen)

Dutch shipbuilder Damen Naval has awarded Heinen & Hopman a contract to supply the climate and filtration systems for the four new anti-submarine warfare frigates (ASWFs) on order for the Netherlands and Belgian navies.

Under the contract, announced on 26 September, the Spakenburg-based company will supply a complete heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAR-R) system as well as a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) filtration system for the four ships.

The Dutch Materiel and IT Command (COMMIT) awarded Damen Shipyards Group a contract for the design, build, and delivery of the ASWFs on 29 June 2023. Under their joint ASWF programme, the Belgian and Dutch navies are procuring two ships each to replace their respective M-class multi-purpose frigates.

The latest contract follows two other awards to local suppliers as the ASWF programme seeks to maximise participation from the Dutch shipbuilding industry.

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Harland & Wolff starts shipyard revamp ahead of FSS construction

by Kate Tringham

Work has begun revamping Harland & Wolff's yard in Belfast to support construction of a new class of three Fleet Solid Support ships for the UK Royal Navy. (Harland & Wolff)

Harland & Wolff has announced the start of work to upgrade the existing fabrication halls at its Belfast shipyard to support the construction of the UK Royal Navy's (RN's) future Fleet Solid Support (FSS) ships.

The three FSS vessels will be delivered under a GBP1.6 billion (USD1.94 billion) contract awarded by the UK Ministry of Defence to the Team Resolute consortium – led by prime contractor Navantia UK, a subsidiary of Spanish state-owned shipbuilder Navantia, and including Harland & Wolff and BMT – in January 2023.

Construction of the new ships is planned to begin in 2025, with final assembly of all three ships set to take place at Harland & Wolff's Belfast yard.

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