HMS Scott is an Ocean Survey Vessel of the Royal Navy.
Displacing 13,000 tons, she is the Royal Navy’s largest Survey Ship, the sixth largest overall in the British Fleet, and also the largest survey ship in Europe. She also has an auxilliary role as a minesweeper support vessel if the need arises.
Apparently she can stay at sea for up to 300 days a year, due to a watch rotation system. The ship’s crew is made up of three sections, two of which are needed on board to run the ship. The third can be on shore for leave or training. This obviously maximises the time the ship can spend at sea, only having to return for maintenance on the ship itself. We don’t often see her in Portsmouth as she’s based in Plymouth usually. Come to think of it, who know’s why she wasn’t on display at Navy Days? Shame, she must have some interesting kit onboard.
Ocean Surveying might seem a bit pointless for the Royal Navy to be carrying out. But surveying is a very important task – not least for commercial usage, such as Admiralty Charts, but also in scientific research into the deep seas. In 2005 HMS Scott investigated the Indian Ocean after the Boxing Day Tsunami, and was the first ship to be able to report on the effects of the earthquake on the Ocean Floor.
Last winter she deployed to the Antarctic, mainly in place of the flood-damaged HMS Endurance. This deployment may well have sounded the death-knell for Endurance – if a survey vessel can perform the task, why the need for a specialist icebreaker, and one that will cost millions to repair at that? Endurance was certainly not a new ship anyway, so would need replacing at some point. The normal argument is that withdrawing Endurance would send a signal of weakness to Buenos Aries… but we already have the Falklands Patrol vessel in HMS Clyde, a Destroyer of Frigate permanently on station as a guardship, and the British Antarctic Survey have their Research Vessels James Clark Ross and Ernest Shackleton for the ice surveying part of Endurance’s role.