Published 22 February 2023

The final of six new boats to improve support to Royal Navy divers has been delivered.

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Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), the procurement arm for the Ministry of Defence, awarded a £51 million contract to Dorset company Atlas Elektronik (AEUK) in 2017 to deliver the Vahana Workboat programme over a 5 year period which includes these six vessels.

Replacing outdated vessels, the 15 metre Vahana boats provide improved speed, operational range and navigation equipment – all vital to diving operations.

Two of the vessels are based at the Defence Dive School in Portsmouth, with the others operated by the Fleet Diving Units in Portsmouth, Plymouth and Scotland. One of the boats is also working in Gibraltar.

James Melia, Project Manager for DE&S Boats Team, said:

“It is great news to see the six dive support boats delivered to the Royal Navy and reach full operating capability. The vessels offer a significantly updated and upgraded maritime platform from which Royal Navy personnel can conduct their duties. They enable movement from analogue to digital capability with a major update to the command, control and navigation system. They provide an improvement in speed, operational range, navigation equipment, whole body vibration compliance, mission range and on-board facilities.”

The new vessels are replacing boats which were originally introduced into service in the early 1990s, and are therefore reaching the end of their service lives despite through-life upgrades.

Cdr Sean Heaton, commanding officer of the diving unit, said:

“These boats are replacing models we have had since the 1990s and will be used by the Diving and Threat Exploitation Group across the UK.

“It’s a welcome sight to see the sixth and final one handed over to us as part of this multi-million pound project.”

The dive support boats are part of the wider Vahana Workboat programme, which is delivering 35 workboats to a standardised, modular design for the Royal Navy.

The contract has sustained 15 jobs at AEUK plus a further 45 across the supply chain.

Wesley Galliver, Head of Surface Ship Systems Division at AEUK said:

“We are immensely proud to support the Royal Navy and to be part of the One Defence approach. The capability provided by the Dive Boat variant of our SEA Class vessel will significantly enhance the Royal Navy’s military diving capability. Furthermore, the flexible modular design of the SEA Class vessels along with common systems will help rationalise training, spares and support across the flotilla.”