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Bodies scanned at HMS Raleigh to help determine the future shape of the Navy

10 November 2023
This may look like a weather-worn copper statue… or one of those mime artists who suddenly spring to life in the high street… but it’s actually a state-of-the-art body scan which will literally help shape the future of the Royal Navy.

Personnel from HMS Raleigh are the first in the UK to undertake anthropometry surveying, a modern body scanning process which will give scientists and experts a better understanding of military body types across a variety of backgrounds and trades.

The data gathered will be used to make improvements to uniform and kit, especially body armour to ensure it is fit for purpose, plus some of the equipment they use.

This survey was last undertaken in 2007, since when a shortfall has been identified in the information gathered relating to females, submariners and ethnic minorities.

Sixteen years later, technological advances and new scanners allowed the team – working on behalf of the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation – to take around 160 measurements digitally courtesy of two 3D scanners, in addition to some two-dozen manual measurements, something that could not be undertaken with the naked eye.

"It’s important that equipment designers have access to the latest data regarding body shapes and sizes," explained Laird Evans, human factors specialist at DE&S.

Although body shapes and sizes may not have changed substantially in the past 15 years, they will have changed to some extent and even small changes may prove significant when designing military equipment.

Laird Evans, human factors specialist

"Although body shapes and sizes may not have changed substantially in the past 15 years, they will have changed to some extent and even small changes may prove significant when designing military equipment.”

The process involves the recording of body measurements using traditional methods before a 3D airport-style scanner was used to photograph the individual in several poses.

More than 2,750 volunteers across 15 military establishments are required to ensure the data the experts require is gathered.

Over a two-week period 119 surveys of Raleigh personnel were conducted, ranging from Phase 2 trainees all the way up to Commanding Officer Captain Jane Roe, with volunteers receiving a small payment and a free pair of shorts.

The anthropometry survey team will be visiting Lympstone, Portsmouth Naval Base and RNAS Yeovilton over the next 12 months.

 "It’s important that equipment designers have access to the latest data regarding body shapes and sizes," explained Laird Evans, human factors specialist at DE&S.

"Although body shapes and sizes may not have changed substantially in the past 15 years, they will have changed to some extent and even small changes may prove significant when designing military equipment.”

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