U.K. to convert Island Offshore OSV to minehunting “mother ship”

Written by Nick Blenkey
Minehunting mothership

Island Crown is to be converted to a minehunting mothership

The U.K. has again used conversion of an existing offshore industry vessel as a means of getting a needed naval asset in place in a hurry. It has purchased the 2013-built UT 776 CD design PSV Island Crown from the Chouest and Ulstein families’ Island Offshore for conversion to a minehunting “mother ship.” In that role it will be used to launch drones to find and destroy undersea threats.

The ship arrived in Plymouth, Devon, yesterday, less than two weeks after the arrival at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead of the subsea construction vessel Topaz Tangaroa, which is to be converted to a Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance (MROS) vessel to protect subsea pipelines and cables.

When delivered by the Vard Brevik shipyard in 2013, the Island Crown was equipped for functions such as subsea construction and Remotely Operated Vehicle operations and the U.K. Ministry of Defence says that it will need to go undergo only minimal conversion work, primarily to support installation of military communication systems and Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) operations, before being handed over to the RFA later this year.

Purchased from Island Offshore for GBP 40 million (about $50 million) the vessel will be renamed before joining the RFA.

Based at His Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the 96.8 meter long vessel will be fitted with uncrewed systems that will include the joint French-U.K. Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) system, the Combined Influence Sweep (SWEEP) system and Medium Underwater Autonomous Vehicles (MAUVs).

“The delivery of this ship is an important step in the Navy’s transformation to conducting mine countermeasures using distributed offboard systems-of-systems,” said Commodore Steve Prest, Director Navy Acquisition. “The ship will be used to extend the range of our Maritime Autonomous Systems from coastal waters to conducting offshore survey operations in defense of the homeland.”

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