RFA Stirling Castle, formerly the MV Island Crown, will act as an offshore forward operating base, deploying Mine Countermeasures Maritime Autonomous Systems (MCM MAS), drones and other crewless systems to find and neutralize sea mines and other seabed threats.
She will boost the Royal Navy’s mine hunting capability and offer a safer alternative to legacy systems.
Five ships between 1679 and 1839 carried the Stirling Castle moniker, and this latest one maintains the Royal Navy’s close connection with Scotland.
The sixth Stirling Castle was welcomed into Plymouth earlier this year and is currently undergoing maintenance work to ready her for front-line duties with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
Head of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Commodore David Eagles, said: “The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is excited and honored to be charged with bringing this impressive new vessel into service.
“We are looking forward to working alongside our Royal Navy colleagues to roll out this new MCM capability which will provide enhanced operational resilience to the continued preservation and safeguarding of the Nation’s Territorial Waters and sea lanes.
“The introduction into service of RFA Stirling Castle will also provide opportunities to both upskill RFA personnel and to pilot a more flexible appointing model for our seafaring workforce.”
Purchased from Island Offshore, the vessel is currently in Devonport, where she is undergoing minimal conversion work, primarily to support installation of military communication systems. She will be handed over to the RFA later this year.