HMS Magpie

HMS Magpie (H130)

HMS Magpie (H130) is currently on deployment



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About this forum

HMS Magpie is the newest addition to the RN’s hydrographic squadron, commissioned in June 2018 to replace veteran survey launch HMS Gleaner.

She was named in recognition of the Duke of Edinburgh’s command of her namesake in the early 1950s, and the Duke personally endorsed HMS Magpie’s motto (Lux in tenebris lucet – shine light into darkness) shortly before his passing.

She has a ship’s company of 9 personnel and due to her size can be operated at greater range and in more adverse conditions than her predecessor. Her core role is to conduct military data gathering in support of the Defence Hydrographic Programme but will also play a key role in development of future capability by testing a range of off-board, remote and autonomous systems. To conduct her core role she has an advanced sensor suite including a high-resolution multibeam echo sounder and side-scan sonar.

HMS Magpie’s 2022 deployment is her most-extensive yet and will include prolonged operations in the north-east of England, and both east and west coasts of Scotland. She will depart Plymouth in early March and is unlikely to return until completion of her deployment in October. 

Facts & Figures

HMS Magpie

Facts & figures

18 Metres

Total length

37 tonnes

Total displacement



Our Operations

HMS Magpie sailing past the Spinnaker Tower

Current operation



Alongside in her home port of Devonport Naval Base. Training our team and maintaining our equipment to make sure we are fighting fit for the challenge.

Our Base

HMS Magpie in Devonport

Our Base

HMNB Devonport

Plymouth PL2 2BG
Telephone: ‎+44 345 748 4950

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Commanding Officer

Lieutenant Commander H Morgan

HMS Magpie's role

The first of numerous new small craft the RN is acquiring to replacing aging work/support boats, it is HMS Magpie’s task to survey the places other parts of the RN Hydrographic Squadron cannot reach thanks to her size and shallow draft.

That chiefly means updating charts of UK ports, harbours and waterways – in the final months of her life, for example, Gleaner was used extensively to survey the exit from Rosyth… allowing Britain’s biggest warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, to safely leave to begin her sea trials in the summer of 2017.

In addition, she acts as an extra pair of eyes in home waters for anything untoward happening.

Her built-in and towed sonar systems can scan every inch of the working part of a harbour to provide 3D imagery and an understanding of the seabed like never before.

Unit history

Royal Navy careers

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