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The Royal Navy is developing a new Multi Role Ocean Surveillance ship (MROSS), with the objectives of territorial protection and increased understanding of maritime threats, the MoD announced on 24 March.

The vessel, scheduled to enter service by 2024, will be a surface vessel with a crew of around 15, who will help protect critical underwater national infrastructure and secure the nation from threat. Undersea cables are vital to the global economy – transmitting 97% of the world’s global communications and trillions of dollars in financial transactions every day, according to the MoD – and to communications between governments. Submarine warfare presents a particular risk of sabotage to undersea cable infrastructure – an existential threat to the UK. The MROSS will feature advanced sensors and a number of remotely-operated and autonomous underwater vessels, which will collect data to help protect sovereign interests in British and international waters.

The vessel will also be able to support other defence tasks, including operations in the increasingly contested arena of the Arctic. “As the threat changes, we must change. Our adversaries look to our critical national infrastructure as a key vulnerability and have developed capabilities that put these under threat. Some of our new investments will therefore go into ensuring that we have the right equipment to close down these newer vulnerabilities […] Whether on land, sea or air, we must make sure that we maintain the UK resilience to those that attempt to weaken us,” commented Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace.

Britain needs to retain a defensive and research capability vis-à-vis subsea communications. (Photo via Wikipedia)

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