Royal Navy joins apprenticeship scheme for autonomous vessels

The Royal Navy is joining a partnership to provide apprenticeships in autonomous and crewless vessel operations.

Maritime training specialist SeaBot XR is collaborating with the navy and other industry partners to identify the skills needed for the maritime autonomous surface ship (MASS) sector.

The scheme will create a working group to develop the use of apprentices for remote and autonomous operations both above and below the surface.

Initially, the group will identify the basic skills and knowledge an individual will need to safely navigate, control and manage small to medium-sized vessels, and provide them with suitable certification.

It will also analyse emerging requirements and define various occupational and training standards.

As the industry grows, the group will then use this training to build upon basic skills, with more advanced knowledge routes and specialisms that will be required for the operation of maritime autonomous surface ships. 

Autonomy and crewless technology has been a focus of the Royal Navy’s for the past two years with several exercises putting different boats and drones through their paces. This includes on operations with the Royal Marines and HMS Albion.

We are delighted to be part of this Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group developing employer-led apprenticeship standards in autonomous and remote vessel operations

Commodore Andy Cree Royal Navy

Commodore Andy Cree Royal Navy said: “The Royal Navy through its lead of the Solent Maritime Enterprise Zone, has a sharp focus on identifying and addressing the future skills gaps associated with new and emergent maritime technologies.

“We are therefore delighted to be part of this Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group developing employer-led apprenticeship standards in autonomous and remote vessel operations which will pave the way for a skilled maritime workforce of the future.”

The Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group in Autonomous and Remote Vessel Operations is chaired by SeaBot XR. As well as the Royal Navy, the list of employers includes geo-data specialist Fugro, the United Kingdom National Oceanography Centre (UK NOC) and marine robotics company Ocean Infinity. The insurer Shipowners P&I Club will also participate in the group. 

It is being supported through the development process by the regulator for apprenticeship quality, the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education.

Gordon Meadow, chief executive of SeaBot XR, said: “Through the adoption of MASS we’re witnessing a skills paradigm-shift towards the connected mariner.  However, there is a lack of awareness about the skills gap in the maritime industry, that will need to be filled as the implementation of autonomous and remote vessel technology is expanded.”

He added: “We will see a continued shift in how onboard and offboard navigational and engineering functions are performed. It’s a very exciting time.

“A new apprenticeship in Autonomous and Remote Vessel Operations will provide new talent and even greater, multi-disciplined, highly-trained workforce, with the know-how to safely monitor, control and deal with situations remotely.”