BMT introduces Venari 85 – candidate for future Royal Navy mine warfare vessel?

Ahead of DSEI 2017 (Defence & Security Equipment International) exhibition in London, BMT Defence Services has launched Venari-85, a new concept for a mine countermeasure (MCM) vessel. The RN is looking at options to replace its current generation of mine warfare and hydrographic vessels and this new design provides an intriguing hybrid for consideration.

Venari-85 is a flexible platform, future-proofed and able to evolve as technology advances in unmanned and offboard systems. BMT’s ship design experience has been combined with QinetiQ’s integration expertise, and drawing upon the experience of mine warfare operators from several different navies and suppliers, this concept has been designed to exploit the next generation of offboard vehicles, mission systems and operational concepts. Venari-85 can support new warfare and hydrographic technology and can support multiple air, surface and sub-surface unmanned vehicles.

A BMT spokesperson said “Venari-85 represents a huge step change in the way MCM ship design is approached and developed. Designing platforms with roles and future technology developments in mind seems the logical step but not one that’s often taken. Before attempting to design such a platform, we invested significant time and effort in operational analysis to better understand how the vessel will be deployed now and in the future, to comprehend the missions and the equipment needed to conduct them. Such an approach not only avoids compromise and repurposing costs in later years, it also maximises the ability to conduct effective MCM throughout life. ”

Alongside the primary MCM role, Venari can be used in other roles such as maritime security boarding, economic zone protection and contribution to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations – all of which reinforce the platform’s value for money credentials.

The Venari 85 concept can be tailored to the specific needs of the customer and provides:

  • Mission spaces optimised for the prime mine warfare role.
  • Hullform and hydrodynamics designed for a wide range of conditions and locations.
  • Efficient and effective propulsion arrangement for speed, accuracy and manoeuvrability.
  • Survivability measures and low radar signatures.
  • Scaleable self-defence and surveillance capabilities.

 

  • Venari in action – mothership to multiple UAVs and UUVs

  • Large quarter deck with space for TEU containers and unmanned craft. Note the additional mission equipment garage under the flight deck. Medical facilities within the ship can be augmented with a divers decompression chamber hosted in the mission equipment garage.

  • Mock up shows Elektronik ARCIMS Unmanned Surface Vehicles on after working deck. USVs are deployed and recovered using motion-compensated davits, enabling the launch and recovery of systems in higher sea states.

  • A large bridge has enough workspace to command the ship’s surveillance, self-defence activities & safe operation of unmanned vehicles. Alternatively, missions can be directed from the ops room below the flight deck.

The RN is currently in the ‘assessment phase’ of its Mine countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability (MHC) programme looking at possible replacements for Sandown and Hunt class minehunters. The concept phase determined that these would be simple steel “mother ships” deploying unmanned, off-board systems (OBS) that take the man out of the minefield by conducting the hunting entirely using autonomous vehicles. Venari meets this criteria but adds further capability. It is significantly bigger than existing RN vessels, being really a hybrid OPV. The flight deck can host a manned helicopter, up to the size of the AW159 Wildcat, with facilities to provide in-flight refuelling of larger aircraft if required. (It is not the intention to permanently embark a manned helicopter, The hangar is intended for the stowage and support of UAVs). There is space on the forward deck that would allow mounting of a medium calibre gun.

This concept is very attractive as it would offer significant flexibility and increase the number of available patrol vessels. Unfortunately, it is difficult to imagine RN would get funding for sufficient of these potentially more capable vessels. The RN is already down to 15 minehunters. Selecting a Venari type concept would probably require trading some mine hunting capability for a broader patrol capability.

BMT continue to produce innovate naval concepts and, even if the RN does not take Venari forward, there are plenty of foreign navies that this hybrid approach may appeal to. BMT will also have a keen interest in whether their Venator-110 concept may be taken up by the RN when announcements on the Type 31e programme are made by the MoD at DSEI later this week.

 

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