The Royal Navy has received the final of six new boats that will improve support for Royal Navy divers.
Replacing outdated vessels, the 15m Vahana boats provide improved speed, operational range and navigation equipment – all vital to diving operations.
The £51m project has seen the boats delivered over five years and the sixth and final one has now been handed over.
Two of the vessels are based at the Defence Dive School in Portsmouth, with the others operated by the Fleet Diving Units in Portsmouth, Plymouth and Scotland. One of the boats is also working in Gibraltar.
Commander Sean Heaton, commanding officer of the Diving and Threat Exploitation Group, said: “These boats are replacing models we have had since the 1990s and will be used by the unit across the UK.
“It’s a welcome sight to see the sixth and final one handed over to us as part of this multi-million pound project.”
Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the procurement arm for the Ministry of Defence, awarded a £51m contract to Dorset-company Atlas Elektronik in 2017 to deliver the Vahana workboat program over a five-year period, which includes these six vessels.
James Melia, project manager for DE&S Boats Team, said: “It is great news to see the six dive support boats delivered to the Royal navy and reach full operating capability.
“The vessels offer a significantly updated and upgraded maritime platform from which Royal Navy personnel can conduct their duties. They enable movement from analogue to digital capability with a major update to the command, control and navigation system.”
The new vessels are replacing boats which were originally introduced into service in the early 1990s, and are therefore reaching the end of their service despite upgrades.
Their introduction is part of the wider Vahana Workboat program, which is delivering 35 vessels to the Royal Navy.
The contract has sustained 15 jobs at Atlas Elektronik, plus a further 45 across the supply chain.
Wesley Galliver, head of surface ship systems division at the company, said: “We are immensely proud to support the Royal Navy and to be part of the One Defence approach.
“The capability provided by the dive boat variant of our SEA-class vessel will significantly enhance the Royal Navy’s military diving capability. They flexible, modular design of the SEA-class vessels along with common systems will help rationalize training, spares and support across the flotilla.”