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Experts in innovation take the Royal Navy’s newest vessel to sea

Experts in innovation take the Royal Navy’s newest vessel to sea
21 February 2023
The Royal Navy’s expert team in getting new technology and kit to the front line have reached yet another major milestone.

NavyX’s unique trials ship, XV (eXperimental Vessel) Patrick Blackett, left Portsmouth Naval Base yesterday to undergo sea acceptance trials - ensuring the vessel and equipment onboard are fully functioning and ready to support innovative experimentation.

The start of the ship’s operations with NavyX is an exciting moment for the innovation and autonomy team as it allows them to independently test and trial novel technologies, which in turn allows the warships of the Royal Navy to focus their time and efforts on their operational duties.

Reece Oliver, NavyX Experimentation Plans Team Lead, said: “The hard work that we’ve all put into this project is all worth it to be able to see the ship doing the work she was intended for. Now we can look forward to planning her experimentation programme.”

Colonel Tom Ryall, Head of NavyX, added: “I always said that the arrival of Patrick Blackett into Portsmouth was just the end of the beginning.

“Today, we’ve started the next phase in her journey, as she went to sea under a Blue Ensign. She will have a busy programme ahead of her this summer.”

The 270-tonne vessel, which bears the name of the former Royal Navy Officer and Nobel Prize Winner Patrick Blackett, is paving the way for advanced experimentation, innovation, and future capabilities within the Royal Navy, and ensuring that the UK stays at the leading edge of naval warfare.

Leading Hand Aaron “Hammy” Hamling, who is part of NavyX’s experiments team, said: “We get to do all the cool stuff!”

This was echoed by Chief Petty Officer David “Griff” Griffiths, another valued member of the team: “This is the best job I’ve done in my 26 years in the Navy. You get to work in a team unlike any other – it’s diverse, and ranges in rank and experience, both military and civil servant. It’s an exciting place to be as we have the opportunity to make significant changes to the future of the Royal Navy”

As the date for setting sail has drawn ever closer, more of the NavyX team have been involved in ensuring XV Patrick Blackett is prepared for testing and trialling innovative technology for the Royal Navy. NavyX also operate two of the Royal Navy’s autonomous vessels, MADFOX and APAC-24.

While the ship is operated by a very lean crew of five, there is also a team of 25 military personnel, civil servants and contractors behind the scenes who have made this possible. These individuals bring experience and expertise from various levels and sectors across the industry, from recent graduates to military veterans.

The NavyX team have worked tirelessly over recent years to ensure the Royal Navy’s newest and most eye-catching vessel is ready for operations. The core NavyX team responsible for the initial procurement of XV Patrick Blackett and the ship’s first Commanding Officer, Commander Sam Nightingale, have had their names engraved on the Ship’s bell – a permanent reminder of the team who delivered the ship to Portsmouth in just nine months.

Kat Flynn, Assistant Head of NavyX said: “NavyX epitomises the whole force ethos. It is only by working together as a whole team can we achieve what we have, which is to challenge the system and do things differently at pace.”

Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key visited XV Patrick Blackett yesterday to congratulate the crew on their first day at sea. Once this phase of sea trials is complete, XV Patrick Blackett will be ready for her next venture, autonomous exercises with NATO allies.

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