Navy's new minehunting 'mother ship' gears up for trials and training

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet Storyline: Patrol and Mine Countermeasures Vessels

Three months after she arrived in Devonport as MV Island Crown, the UK’s new minehunting mother ship – now RFA Stirling Castle – is nearing the end of her military conversion.

Here she’s undergoing a spot turn – a simple turn under her own power using her thrusters, no tugs – in Basin No.3.
She’ll soon be venturing further afield on trials to test the kit and systems which have been installed to complete her conversion from oil rig support ship to military vessel.

When operational, she will serve as the command centre for and home to Royal Navy mine warfare specialists and their hi-tech equipment. They will focus on safeguarding UK waters in particular, while Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel focus on running and maintaining the ship herself.

Replacing traditional mine countermeasures vessels, Stirling Castle will instead harness the white heat of technology, using a series of uncrewed systems (the joint French-UK Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) system, the Combined Influence Sweep (SWEEP) system and Medium Underwater Autonomous Vehicles (MAUVs)) to locate, identify and neutralise mine threats.

Her first ship’s company have already completed their first three-month stint aboard; as with existing minehunters and patrol ships, the intention is to rotate the entire crew every few months so that Stirling Castle will be available for operations as much as possible.