VESSEL REVIEW | Fast and versatile 15m officer training boats for UK Royal Navy

Photo: AEUK

The Royal Navy has begun operating its newest fleet of eight training boats at the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth.

The 15-metre, waterjet-equipped craft were built by Atlas Elektronik UK (AEUK), a subsidiary of German defence firm Atlas Elektronik, to replace the BRNC’s flotilla of eight “picket” boats that have been in service since the 1960s. The first AEUK officer training boat (OTB) was delivered to the navy in November 2020 and operational sailings of all eight vessels commenced in January of this year.

The OTBs were developed as variants of a series of workboats designed by AEUK to feature a common base platform with interchangeable capability modules, allowing the boats to be operated in a number of different roles. The project’s aims included equipment commonality, reduced documentation and training requirements, and improved platform interoperability resulting in reduced through-life costs.

By utilising common components for all workboats, the operators have familiarity of not only their operation across the range of boats but also in their maintenance. This approach also reduces the range and scale of spares required, with the associated natural reduction in cost. Through this commonality, the training and documentation burden for all systems is reduced.

Photo: Royal Navy

The modular capability allows operators to “re-role” each workboat to suit the latest operational requirement. The design intent was for the boats to be re-roled within a 30-day maintenance period. However, through the use of modern, electronic control systems, the re-role of the boats can be conducted within a matter of days, dependent on the change of role.

The OTBs are capable of operating up to Sea State Four and achieve a maximum speed of 40 knots. Propulsion is delivered by two Yanmar marine diesel engines connected to Hamilton waterjets, improving safety during shallow-water operations. The propulsion system features the Hamilton Blue Arrow CAN Bus control system and mouse-boat control for optimum control and manoeuvrability. This propulsion system is also the same as that used in AEUK’s uncrewed surface vessels and allows for full autonomous operations through the integration of AEUK’s remote control and collision avoidance systems.

The new vessels are designed primarily for inland sailings, though they can operate further out into the English Channel if required, as they are better suited than their predecessors with regards to operating in open water and facilitating new training routines away from the confines of a riverine environment.

Each boat can train up to 16 officer cadets at a time. There are also integrated training and classroom facilities with networked PC workstations and video presentation facilities, a briefing area with large screens and chart and navigation displays, a messing area, and whole body vibration and shock-mitigating seating to minimise shock and reduce operator fatigue. The accommodation spaces include heads, a shower, and two bunk compartments providing overnight berthing for students and four crewmembers.

As part of their training, cadets will live and work on the new craft for up to a week.

Click here for more news stories, features, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s focus on the research and training sector.

15-metre Officer Training Boats
Type of vessel:Training vessels
Owner:UK Royal Navy
Builder:Atlas Elektronik UK
Length overall:15 metres
Beam:6.0 metres
Draught:0.8 metres
Main engines:2 x Yanmar
Propulsion:2 x Hamilton waterjets
Steering system:Hamilton Blue Arrow
Maximum speed:40 knots
Other electronics:Atlas Elektronik UK collision avoidance system; Atlas Elektronik UK remote control system
Type of fuel:Diesel
Accommodation:Classroom; mess; toilets; shower; 2 x cabins
Operational area:English Channel

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