Home Europe Royal Navy tests unmanned tech aboard amphibious ship HMS Albion

Royal Navy tests unmanned tech aboard amphibious ship HMS Albion

Mast 13 boat entering the well deck of HMS Albion. Photo: Royal Navy

The UK Royal Navy recently carried out four days of unmanned and autonomous systems testing aboard amphibious transport dock HMS Albion in Norwegian waters.

Royal Marines small boat specialists 47 Commando have been in Norway working alongside HMS Albion, the Royal Navy’s autonomous accelerator NavyX and the Office for the Chief Technology Officer to see how the kit could work during operations.

Exercise Autonomous Advance Force put unmanned boat Mast 13, heavy lift drone from Malloy, remotely-piloted air system Puma and the Remus unmanned sub-surface drone through their paces in the harsh conditions of the Arctic.

An artificial intelligence system to control all of this tech was integrated in amphibious ship Albion, with industry partners welcomed on board to implement and oversee the system trials.

The four-day exercise saw these technologies make their debut in an operational setting.

It was the first time an unmanned surface vessel has been operated from the dock in HMS Albion and the first time 700X Naval Air Squadron have flown Puma from a Royal Marines landing craft.

The Autonomous Advance Force trials started last year in Cornwall and have since progressed to include more of the latest technology and more naval service units.

“We wanted to operationalise the technology, both in an operational environment and as part of a NATO deployment,” Colonel Chris Haw, commanding officer of Plymouth-based 47 Commando, said.

“Integration of autonomy equipment is a key strand in the development of Future Commando Force and the Littoral Strike concept. The future vision is of this type of system being used to control multiple assets in different domains.”