The Royal Navy wants only 50 crew members on board the Type 32 frigate.

Speaking about the design of the Royal Navy's future Type 32 frigate, John Howie, director of internal affairs at Babcock Shipyards, said the company intended to halve the frigate's crew compared to to the Type 31 frigate, from which it will be derived, and which must replace part of the Type 23 anti-submarine frigates.

To achieve this, British engineers will rely on recent technological advances made in recent years, particularly concerning autonomous ships, to take over the functions of part of the crew.

The fact remains that reducing the size of the crew of a military ship, as crucial as a frigate can be, is not without facing immense challenges, but also significant risks, to which previous experiments, carried out in this area, do not hardly lends itself to optimism.

50 crew members aboard a Royal Navy Type 32 frigate

If several navies, including the US Navy, believe that it will be possible, by 2035, to implement large, fully robotic ships, alongside their destroyers, frigates and aircraft carriers, it should be possible, by applying the same technologies, to halve the crew of a frigate by the same deadline.

frigate type 23 Duke class
The Type 23 Duke-class frigates, which will be replaced by the Type 32 frigate in the Royal Navy, have a crew of 185 members.

This is most likely the starting point taken by the engineers of the British Babcock shipyards, who today are already building the Type 26 frigates of the City class, and the future Type 31 frigates, which will replace the anti-submarine warfare frigates. -marine Type 23 of the Dukes class.

And in fact, in an interview given daily The Telegraph, John Howie, Babcock's director of internal affairs, indicated that his group now aimed to bring back the format of the crew of the Type 32 frigate, an evolution of the Type 31 frigate from which it would take many attributes, to only around fifty sailors, petty officers and officers, compared to 105 for the Type 31, and 185 for the Type 23 which they will replace.

A revolution made possible by advances in automation and Artificial Intelligence

To achieve this, Babcock intends to rely on new technologies developed in recent years. Without being precisely listed, we can easily imagine that we are talking here about the progress made in automation and robotics, but also in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning and presence. virtual, to achieve this.

These are, in fact, technologies at the heart of the revolution which should enable the design and implementation of a fleet of large autonomous ships, intended to evolve in support of large surface combatant units, but also submarines, equipped with a crew.

US Navy Sea Hunter and Seahawk
The US Navy is making significant efforts to prepare for the construction of a fleet of 150 large autonomous surface ships.

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