HMS Scott (H131)

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.



Filed under Navy

30 responses to “HMS Scott (H131)

  1. But SCOTT cannot operate in the ice, nor can she operate helicopters. Not that the politicians will pay too mach attantion to this…

    The ocean surveying task is mostly for naval purposes and is the sole reason she exists. She is that size because she has a huge sonar for profiling the seabed.

  2. James Daly

    Whatever the rights or wrongs of it, I think its the argument the MOD will go for – Scott can do the ocean survey part of the southern seas, and the BAS have got their icebreakers for the ice.

    In hindsight, it might have made sense to have designed Scott with the capability to operate helos. I think I noticed a flight deck, but as you mention no hangar or facilities.

  3. x

    I can only concur about the lack of aviation facilities aboard HMS Scott; a ship I have yet to visit. Frankly I was amazed that the Rivers were leased sans helideck; the utility it adds to vessel is significant.

    (BTW nice photos of Navy Days 2010. I was annoyed that I couldn’t visit Daring due to some admiral’s visit. Why they couldn’t schedule a visit the day before I don’t know. Heck its only the general public who pay the taxes. Less said about the ques getting in the better. From walking down from the car park behind Cascades to setting foot aboard Dauntless it took 1.25 hours……..!)

    • James Daly

      Hi x, thanks! I haven’t uploaded all of my Navy Days pics yet, there are more I am yet to put on flickr.

      I didn’t know thats why Daring wasnt open on the Friday – frankly, thats one of the aspects where the RN needs to get its act together. The taxpapyers of Great Britain paid for that ship, and the Admiral’s wages. I know who I think has more right to be on there.

      As for heli decks, I know it adds to the cost but I think as a force multiplier it’s a no-brainer, it adds so many dimensions to a ship.

      • x

        I am glad to report that Admiral’s car was a last model Toyota Avensis. So it is nice to know Their Lordships aren’t being profligate with the “company car” budget!!!

  4. Presumably if the need for a flight deck was included in the requirements…..

    But SCOTT wasn’t designed with operating a helicopter in mind, and neither were the other hydrographic vessels. A bit odd, perhaps, since the old HECLA class did have an embarked helicopter. I don’t think an embarked helicopter is needed for the intended role of the RIVER class OPVs – although obviously it would add to their capabilities.

    A flight means a few altrations to the ship, which add cost. It also means certain equipment is needed, such and landing aids. There are manpower aspects too, people need to be trained to act as flight deck crew. Actually embarking an aircraft complicates things even more, you now need a hanger, an anlarged crew as it now contains the maintainers for the aircraft.

    As for Navy Days, I think a link to this thread (no, I don’t comment there) is apt, as is the quote:

    “Guys, summer in the RN – leave time. The RN is incredibly busy at the moment, so its rare for people to get downtime. While you were at Navy Days, you didnt see the RN on the east coast of the US in a task group, and all across the world on live, and often dangerous, operations.
    Those ships at Navy days were losing their summer leave to be there – in other words, the limited time we get with our families in order to make the vessels available to the public.

    As for access – these are fighting vessels, not public museum ships. There are major security and sadly H&S issues now with letting people wander too freely (think of the litigation), so we are limited in what can or cannot be shown off.”

    • x

      I think you really should go and look at just how important (both in peace and war) the helicopter is in the maritime environment. It really is inexcusable that a vessel of Scott size should be built without a flight deck. What sets ships apart from others platforms is that they are multi-faceted with high utility. For example the Rivers are fisheries protection vessels. But what about the need to assist the oil industry? What about aiding in emergencies at sea; whether it is a floundering merchant man or a submarine on the bottom? What about just providing a safe haven for a helicopter suffering a malfunction? Helicopter operations are dangerous; having a purpose built open heli-deck reduces the OOW workload considerably.

      As for your comments on Navy Days, well that is “life in the blue suit.” It is part of the job. I remember a year or two back when ratings were getting extra “leave” because of cuts in the operational budget. I remember having more than one conversation that went along the lines of “I am board, I want out.” I know standing there like a prize prune why Joe Public walks past, some overly chatty, the majority being very British and quiet, isn’t the most entertaining way to spend your watch.

      As for access to ships I think I know about H&S and terrorist threats thank you. It was amusing in 2005 at the Festival Sea going from ship to ship and finding that in some you could go down ladders how you chose while on others you had to go down facing the ladder (something I hadn’t in over a decade, gosh did it feel awkward.) It was also interesting in what precautions each ship to protect against terrorist attacks. BUT it is surprising what access the public can gain when it suits the RN. A few years back at the Boat Show HMS Westminster was alongside. I didn’t bother to visit her. I had been aboard enough T23s and been to places that Joe Public doesn’t see. But a friend from the sailing club did visit. And when I next saw him they were taken on tours everywhere. I could make observations here that on the 30th July I was surrounded by white English people. And yet at the boat show there was a high proportion of other ethnicities. But I won’t.

      Thanks for the link; it was interesting.

  5. James Daly

    I do think a lot of the reasons advanced for ships not being at Navy Days/having limited access are a bit poor, to be honest. I work for local government and we’re stressed at all times that ‘the public pay your wages’, bit of a cliche but its true. Treating them with contempt or just as a plain pain in the arse is just not on.

    The service needs to understand just how important public relations is, especially in this day and age. Its strange to complain – as their Lordships are want to do – that the British public is seablind, but then not make any effort to change that mindset.

    And about leave… I’m sure its been heard before, but my great-grandfather was regularly away for over a year, on occasions two. You can tell when he was home or away by the gaps between my grandad and his siblings. Its just the way it was. I didn’t realise summer was sacrosant for leave, maybe that will have to change if it causes inflexibility?

    • x

      As with any service the RN reflects the population from which it is drawn. You are right about leave mother’s father was on the North West frontier for a good chunk of the ’30s. Home meant an 8 week voyage……..

      As for ship access I was upset that I didn’t get to visit a T45 bridge. H&S is an awkward issue. On ship visits I wear boots, but how many open topped toed sandals did you see that day? The general public don’t think. But I would gladly pay for tickets in advance to visit the more interesting areas of a ship (being forewarned about suitable foot ware.) And you only had to look at the length of the queue to leave Cumberland, all down to two ladders. A compromise could be reached, it would be difficult but not insurmountable.

      Have you ever visit the Shieldhall? You are allowed to walk around the engines whilst they are running. Saying that I wouldn’t trust say a group of youngsters in such an environment……

      • x

        I had another quick scan of WEBF’s linked page; I only speed read it first time around.

        It seems HMS Westminster was more open but I didn’t bother. I wouldn’t have seen anything I hadn’t seen before but…….

        What was open for viewing?

      • James Daly

        sadly the general public at large can be pretty lacking in common sense – I always wear boots or at least stout footwear visiting ships, even for walking round Navy Days I found hiking boots useful. I can well remember my Grandad (who comes from a very Naval family) taking me to visit Navy ships and showing me how to climb down ladders properly, facing the ladder, watch where you put your hands etc.

        Something else I can remember well is the last Navy Days in 2008, going round HMS Enterprise. Looking at the accomadation, my Grandad said something along the lines of ‘this is pretty good’, the look on the female rating could have killed. But compared to his brothers ship the WW2 HMS Enterprise, it WAS luxury!

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  8. Operations come first of course, then work ups, training periods, equipment trials…. so yes the Navy is busy. Why more ships at Portsmouth weren’t open is a good question, however, sometimes they just can’t be for all sorts of reasons.

    As for access, I’m not too sure what the complaint is. For all sorts of reasons, including structural integrity and security, a ship will have limited points of entry. More spaces opened up means more bods needed – as guides, for security and also for safety things such as first aid.

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