The Portuguese Navy has contracted Damen Shipyards Group for the construction of a multi-purpose vessel designed to operate unmanned underwater vehicles, unmanned surface vehicles, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
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The 107-metre-long multi-purpose vessel will be designed, constructed, and outfitted by the Dutch defence, shipbuilding, and engineering conglomerate company after a contract was signed between Director of Ships Rear Admiral Jorge Pires and Damen Shipyards Group chief commercial officer Jan-Wim Dekker.
The project follows a European tender process and is funded by the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility as part of the NextGenerationEU economic recovery package.
The MPV is expected to feature a 94-metre by 11-metre flight deck and hangars for unmanned aerial vehicle deployment, helicopter deployment, oceanic research, search and rescue, emergency relief, maritime safety and naval support operations.
It will also feature laboratories and accommodation for scientific staff, a stern ramp for UUVs and USVs, a 650-square metre cargo deck, and space for 12 20-foot containers.
Additional modular systems could reportedly involve containerised hospital facilities, hyperbaric chambers or remotely operated vehicle equipment, as required.
“We are proud to have been selected to build this spectacular vessel for the Portuguese Navy,” Damen Shipyards Group chief executive officer Arnout Damen said after the contract signing ceremony.
“We are convinced that this vessel will represent a major milestone in the naval sector. It is the first of its kind, with the highest capabilities to create awareness, deploy and manage all types of drones.
“This vessel’s multipurpose functionality will enable the Portuguese Navy to develop the most demanding missions and at the same time, the ability to perform research activities in the deepest areas of the ocean.
“It also underlines Damen’s firm relationship with the Portuguese Navy and shows a further example of European defence industry cooperation.”
The Portuguese Navy currently has two Damen-built vessels in service including 122-metre long Bartolomeu Dias Class multi-purpose frigates NRP Bartolomeu Dias and NRP D Francisco de Almeida. Both vessels originally served in the Royal Netherlands Navy as Karel Doorman Class frigates before undergoing a modernisation program by Damen and the Dutch Command Materiel and IT agency.