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Royal Navy tech office showcases latest deployment units

A Persistent Operational Deployment System (PODS) fitted with drone equipment is demonstrated at Portsdown Technology Park. Picture: LPhot Lee Blease
The Royal Navy's ability to adapt to any operation at a moment's notice has advanced further with significant research and development into "plug and play" interchangeable mission modules - known as PODS.

With the help of a diverse range of end-users, the Office for the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) has been researching and trialling the use of more than a dozen different configurations of PODS to enable ships and shore-based units to do experiments and take on a variety of different roles.

Although navy ships have a core use (Type 45s are air defence specialists while Type 23 frigates are experts in anti-submarine warfare), they have the ability to be deployed where needed and to a variety of operations.

But getting the ship prepared and ready, such as taking on supplies or additional equipment, can take time. OCTO and others have been working to make this process smoother and more efficient with the use of PODS - a container and payload which is designed and built to suit one or more specific tasks or missions. 

Similarly, units deployed to austere and expeditionary locations stand to benefit from the availability and use of PODS personalised to support their activities, whether experimental or operational.

During a demonstration day held at Portsdown Technology Park near Portsmouth, OCTO showcased a number of PODS including a medical unit, an autonomous drone unit, a mine counter measures unit and a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility).

Each one had been kitted out and constructed to fit its role, for example the MedPODs have the same equipment and systems as a deployed advanced medical bay. With it on board, a ship would be able to administer anaesthesia, do X-rays and undertake complex surgery.
Meanwhile, other containers on show can host a variety of uncrewed air systems including heavy lift quadcopters such as the Malloy T150 and T400 and a Command and Control (C2) centre to for the operation of drones in all three sub-domains – below the surface, on the surface and in the air.

Brigadier Jaimie Roylance, the Royal Navy’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “This demonstration day has been a long time coming, and has allowed us to showcase some of what my team and a huge cast of end-users have achieved over the last 2 years to prove the concept of PODS.  

“Today, we have been able to gather all sorts of stakeholders who could and should be interested in the use of PODS and that maybe would sponsor these sorts of capabilities.

“We’ve also had a very good cross section of current and potential future users, whether in mine counter measures, seabed warfare or the Commando Force, brief on their interest in the PODS they’re currently using and may get in the future.

“And we also have people representing the parts of the Royal Navy and DE&S who might deliver a PODS programme in the near future.”

There’s no substitute for the immersive experience we’ve been able to show them in detail at the demonstration day so this engagement has been vital.

Brigadier Jaimie Roylance, the Royal Navy’s Chief Technology Officer

While the demonstration day showed the potential of the PODS and their many uses, trials have taken place with a PODS successfully loaded onto HMS Tamar during its recent patrols in the Pacific.
Two 20ft Seabed Warfare PODS gave the patrol ship the ability to conduct underwater operations alongside divers from the Royal Navy and US Navy.

And having the PODS on show and with the necessary equipment and systems installed is a key part of the next stage of delivery.

“Showing real, physical PODS is essential,” Brig Roylance added.

“Bringing the PODS concept to life via the real physical working prototypes that we have here today has been very important. I have been pleased to hear how many of our guests have been pleasantly surprised to see how far we’ve come in such a short space of time.

“There’s no substitute for the immersive experience we’ve been able to show them in detail at the demonstration day so this engagement has been vital.

“These PODS represent an opportunity for the Royal Navy to stand up a programme which could see us rolling out fleets of PODS for a wide variety of different uses in the very near future.

“It is an aspect of delivering of the navy’s intent to make modularity and modernisation a key aspect of future capability.”


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