UK: Royal Navy formally receives ocean surveillance ship RFA Proteus

According to information published by the UK MoD on October 10, 2023, the UK's maritime defense received a significant upgrade with the introduction of a dedicated underwater surveillance ship, RFA Proteus. This vessel, inaugurated in a grand ceremony in London, will focus on monitoring areas of UK sovereign interest.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Multi-role ocean surveillance ship RFA Proteus. (Picture source: UK MoD)

The RFA Proteus, operated by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the vital support division of the Royal Navy, was officially unveiled on the Thames. Dignitaries present included RFA Commodore-in Chief, Prince Edward, The Duke of Edinburgh, and business magnate Akshata Murty, wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Murty holds the honorary title of the ship's sponsor, a tradition believed to bring good fortune to the vessel.

The ship's primary function will be to serve as a platform for remotely-operated vehicles and house advanced capabilities akin to those in the oil and gas sectors. Furthermore, Proteus will play a pivotal role in advancing marine science and technology, ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of underwater innovation.

Technical data

The RFA Proteus is a multi-role ocean surveillance ship designed for versatility and efficiency. With a gross tonnage of 6,133 GT, a net tonnage of 1,840 NT, and a deadweight tonnage of 3,277 DWT, she boasts a substantial displacement of 6,000 tons. The ship stretches to a length of 98.1 meters and has a beam measuring 20.048 meters, with a draught of 6.0 meters.

Powering the Proteus are multiple engines: two Caterpillar 3516C diesel engines each producing 2,250 kW or 3,020 hp, one Caterpillar 3512C diesel engine generating 1,700 kW or 2,300 hp, and two Caterpillar C32 diesel engines each delivering 1,820 kW or 2,440 hp.

For enhanced maneuverability, the ship is equipped with two Kongsberg azimuth thrusters, each with a power of 1,650 kW, and a bow thruster that produces 1,500 kW or 2,000 hp. This combination allows the ship to achieve a maximum speed of 14 knots.

In her role as a civil supply vessel, the Proteus can accommodate 82 personnel. However, when serving the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), she houses 24 RFA staff and an additional 60 Royal Navy (RN) personnel. Additionally, the ship is equipped with aviation facilities, including a helipad, to support aerial operations.