Military Review

"Hunting for mines will be an order of magnitude more effective": the British Navy on the transition from conventional minesweepers to drones


Russian Navy while upgrading its mine countermeasures fleet made a bet on increasing the maneuverability of the minesweeper, increasing the strength of its hull and reducing the signature. As a result, project 12700 was created, the representatives of which should become the basis of mine defense in the near sea zone as it is put into operation.

A number of unmanned aerial vehicles are on board the Alexandrites to assist the crew in trawling. At the same time, the British Navy, intending to go its own way, decided to radically approach the issue of updating its minesweepers fleet, completely depriving the anti-mine ships of the team. In other words, conventional minesweepers will be replaced by sea drones.

London has allocated 246 million dollars to start the implementation of the corresponding program. These funds provide for the purchase of three sets of equipment from the French manufacturer DE&S, each of which consists of a portable control center, an autonomous surface vessel, a towed sonar and a mine clearance system.

These systems will protect vital shipping lanes, commercial shipping and our brave personnel from deadly devices [mines]
- said Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

The new generation complex is designed to replace autonomous systems for traditional minesweepers with a crew on board, such as the Hunt and Sandown class ships. The principle of operation of the drone is as follows: an autonomous ship is controlled from the "mother" ship or from the base. He has a sonar in tow, which is looking for mines. After their detection, a remotely controlled underwater vehicle is used to disarm the explosive device.

First Sea Lord [Chief of the Navy] Tony Radakin believes that with such equipment "mine hunting will become an order of magnitude more effective." Its tests were completed in October 2020, the first deliveries are expected at the end of 2022.

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  1. rotmistr60
    rotmistr60 27 November 2020 07: 30
    Does Britain remember that it has a fleet? For a short time, there has already been an article with promises of the British about the renewal of their Navy.
    First Sea Lord [Navy chief] Tony Radakin thinks
    The main thing is the First Sea Lord, and the rest simply must follow. But seriously, many countries have recently begun to declare more actively about the rate on drones - air, sea, land.
    1. Egoza
      Egoza 27 November 2020 08: 02
      Quote: rotmistr60
      Does Britain remember that it has a fleet? For a short time, there has already been an article with promises of the British about the renewal of their Navy.

      Prepare to fight! And they are more accustomed to the sea. And how will they update what, as the first lord promises ... In Ukraine, there are also admirals, only with the update not very much, as well as with the fleet
      1. bessmertniy
        bessmertniy 27 November 2020 08: 21
        Not Britain is going to fight, but the Americans - with British forces. And minesweeper drones are logical. This is a complete savings on crews up to their probable funeral. repeat
        1. Machito
          Machito 28 November 2020 16: 20
          Judging by the publications, we are lagging behind our sworn friends in the development of drones and AI. We need to catch up, and we can't even bungle our own operating system for computers and mobile phones. We only hear about the success of the sanctioned Kaspersky, and all the electronics that we use are knocking at the CIA and the Pentagon. Very similar to the successes of Rogozmos. That we have transferred kulibins or there is no order for drones?
      2. Dangerous
        Dangerous 27 November 2020 08: 25
        Explain to me why, why, in all the articles where it is written about updating the armaments of the army / navy of other states, there are always comments that they are preparing to fight? Do they (British / Americans / Germans / French / Japanese, etc.) still need to use WW2 equipment? Just wondering, what is the semantic load of the written, that they are "preparing to fight"? Not a discussion of the characteristics and possible application or means of countering these drones, but just another remark about "fighting"? Moreover, Ukraine was dragged here for some reason
        1. Avior
          Avior 27 November 2020 08: 50
          It is still unclear why Alexandrite was squeezed in here?
          The author wanted to show that the approaches to the creation of minesweepers are different?
          So the British have Khanty, similar in function to Alexandrite, have been in service for 40 years, since 1981.
          1. Snail N9
            Snail N9 27 November 2020 09: 00
            I saw how in Novorossiysk our minesweepers trawled mines (training) - as it was done during the Second World War, nothing has changed - they crawl through the minefield with trawls (with modern mines there they would have come right away), but the XXI century "on yard "....
            1. Lex_is
              Lex_is 27 November 2020 09: 55
              Well, what else can they trawl? Of the unmanned, we have only 2 pieces. Inspector Mk 2, and they do not fit on the deck.
          2. Lex_is
            Lex_is 27 November 2020 09: 41
            the British Khanty, similar in function to Alexandrite, have been in service for 40 years, since 1981.

            They are replacing them with drones.
            And they are not going to, as it is written in the article, but they are already changing them with might and main. The RNMB Hazard has been in operation for 18 months and has been successfully deployed in the bay, the RNMB Harrier has now been delivered to the fleet, RNMB Hebe, which will be the command center for the first two, expected in spring.
        2. unaha
          unaha 27 November 2020 09: 23
          Because ours are brave scouts, and strangers are vile spies.
    2. Lex_is
      Lex_is 27 November 2020 10: 25
      Britain remembered that it had a fleet

      And she did not forget about it.
      The increase in the total displacement of the fleet from 2017 to 2019 in Britain was + 14.7%, in Russia -4.7%. The percentage of new ships in the fleet for 2019 is 31.3% for Britain and 20,20% for Russia. The average age of ships in Britain is 18.2, for Russia is 25.4.
  2. OgnennyiKotik
    OgnennyiKotik 27 November 2020 08: 39
    Israel has had a similar ship for several years.
    APASUS 27 November 2020 09: 00
    Since automation and robotics comes to the fleet in minesweepers, then most likely mines will soon also begin to be released with robotization elements and it will not be so easy to destroy them.
    1. Lex_is
      Lex_is 27 November 2020 09: 45
      They are already trying, but it is very expensive and available to few countries. And many countries and even individual organizations can make simple mines and install them from civilian ships, creating big problems for the enemy's economy.
  4. Jacket in stock
    Jacket in stock 27 November 2020 09: 38
    More than a reasonable decision.
    With the modern level of automation and communication, the crew does not need to be constantly present on the ship. Especially on a ship doing very dangerous work.