First look at autonomous sea boats

The P24 in Portsmouth Harbour Photo: BAE SystemsThe P24 in Portsmouth Harbour Photo: BAE Systems

BAE Systems’ Pacific 24 (P24) rigid inflatable boat could significantly enhance the UK Royal Navy’s ability to protect its sailors as the upgraded sea boat is able to execute its own missions without crew and be run from a warship.

The autonomous P24 has been procured under the Royal Navy’s autonomy and lethality accelerator programme, Navy X, which aims to deliver new technology into the hands of sailors and marines at pace. The successful launch of the sea boat took place at Trafalgar Wharf, Portsmouth, earlier this month.

“Commencing the trials of the crewless Pacific 24 boat is an important stepping stone in the Royal Navy’s development of its autonomous capability to ensure our fleet remains at the forefront of military innovation and technology, ready to meet the evolving threats of modern warfare,” commented Jeremy Quin, MOD Procurement.

Missions could include anti-piracy operations, border control, persistent intelligence gathering, maritime security and force protection, all while keeping a sailor safe from harm.

BAE Systems and Navy X will continue to collaborate on the development of its first autonomous P24 which is carrying out a series of acceptance trials throughout 2020, the success of which could determine whether the Royal Navy decides to upgrade or procure an entire fleet of the craft.

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