Great Scott: survey ship on course to finish record-breaking Atlantic mission

Veteran survey ship HMS Scott is on for a record-breaking 2021 after mapping an area of the Atlantic seabed bigger than Britain.

The Devonport-based ship – the largest vessel in the Royal Navy’s hydrographic flotilla – has been away from home in the mid-Atlantic since June.

Scott is unique in the Royal Navy as a deep ocean survey vessel – it’s her task to hoover up details of the ocean floor using her high resolution multi beam sonar system to chart the seabed in hitherto unprecedented detail.

In her 24 years at sea, the ship has surveyed approximately 3.7 per cent of the world’s oceans. Only one fifth of the world’s oceans have been surveyed to modern standards.

During the 2021 ‘military data gathering season’ she has surveyed 214,000 square kilometres of deep ocean floor.

By the year’s end when she’s completed her Atlantic deployment, the ship plans to close in on the 300,000 square kilometre mark – that’s bigger than Britain (242,000).

The data Scott has gathered on her latest patrols is passed to the UK Hydrographic Office in Taunton, so that the data can be exploited for safe navigation.

The ship can also act as a command ship for minehunters, conduct some limited ice patrol operations (she’s not an icebreaker unlike HMS Protector), can carry eight containers on her foredeck and has enough fuel and food to remain at sea for three months or more at a time.

Scott has become the latest ship to adopt the forward deployed model – rotating the crew to sustain the ship on operations for longer, while giving the sailors more settled lives away from the ship.

It’s meant the Navy has squeezed an extra 20 days of survey work out of the ship over the summer.

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