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UK SALMO uses new ROV for wartime wreck recovery

The XLX-C work-class remote-operated vehicle is a new acquisition to enhance the salvage capability of SALMO. It is operated and maintained by a team of SALMO staff and builds on SALMO's long history of operating ROVs. (UK DE&S)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has completed the first operation with a newly acquired Forum Energy Technologies (FET) deep-water remotely operated vehicle (ROV), Janes has learnt.

Procured last year to meet an urgent capability requirement (UCR), the XLX-C ROV was used by the MoD's Salvage and Marine Operations (SALMO) team in January 2024 for an artefact recovery operation on a US Navy wartime wreck off the southwest coast of England. The MoD revealed details of the operation on 13 February, although it did not initially identify the ROV type.

SALMO is a specialist civilian team within the MoD's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation, which provides support to the Royal Navy (RN) and other MoD agencies. SALMO's role includes responding to any RN incidents at sea involving ships, submarines, and aircraft, and providing underwater engineering support to maintain RN vessels.

A UCR for a new work-class ROV to complement and increase SALMO's existing salvage capabilities was announced in May 2023. A subsequent DE&S contract notice revealed that in June 2023 FET was awarded a GBP4.5 million (USD5.6 million) contract for the supply of a second-hand ROV, plus support and spares.

The full scope of supply covered the purchase of a pre-owned XLX-C work-class ROV system (rated to 2,000 m depth); a control cabin; a launch and recovery system; a winch and umbilical; and ancillary support equipment. The contract also includes a two-year support solution, a warranty and spares package, vessel integration and sea trials support, a training package, and the potential for upgrades and additions.

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