Royal Navy Awards Contract for Europe’s Largest Drone Submarine

The Royal Navy has awarded Plymouth-based MSubs a 15.5-million-pound ($18.86 million), extra-large autonomous underwater vehicle contract.

The uncrewed submarine, called Cetus, will be delivered to the navy in two years. 

The 12-meter (39-foot), 17-ton vessel will enhance the service’s capacity to protect critical infrastructure and monitor sub-sea activity, the navy stated.

“In order to meet the growing threats to our underwater infrastructure, the [Royal Navy] needs to be ahead of the competition with cutting edge capabilities,” UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

“Project Cetus, alongside bringing forward the [multi-role ocean surveillance ships], will help ensure we have the right equipment to protect the security of the UK and our Allies.”

Largest, Most Complex in Europe

The battery-operated platform will have a range of up to 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) or greater with additional batteries. 

Its modular design will allow the addition of an optional section, doubling its capacity.

The Royal Navy claims it is the largest, most complex crewless European submarine, with a maximum operational depth exceeding that of any current British submarine.

Capable of Tandem Operations 

The Cetus will operate alongside the British and partner navy’s crewed platforms, “including the Astute-class hunter-killers and their successors – or independently.” 

The submarine’s design and size would allow it to be transported to any part of the world in a shipping container.

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Finally, the platform will enable the navy to experiment and develop “cutting edge technologies and capabilities around encouraging innovation and developing best practice.”

“This extra-large autonomous underwater vehicle is a capability step-change in our mission to dominate the underwater battlespace,” First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key said. “And I am delighted that the project is able to support a small, innovative UK company which is at the cutting edge of this sector.”