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Royal Navy trials digital system for souls onboard


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Royal Navy is running trials of a new digital system to record sailors entering and leaving vessels.

It involves a system for personal accounting and location (PAL) from tracking solutions specialist Kinsetu that uses radio frequency identification (RFID) onboard the carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

The trial to replace a system of manually pegging souls onboard (SOB) has emerged from a competition run by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) in the Ministry of Defence and is supported by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

It is testing the system’s effectiveness onboard a Navy vessel and exploring the human factor issues that emerge when sailors wear the RFID technology.

The equipment has been installed by Kinsetu and BAE Systems, with cabling and modifications to the internal network electronics and virtual local area network to provide an interim PAL capability for operational testing.

The trial involves registering SOB through four high frequency readers at points where they can embark and disembark on the vessels, using two client laptops and registration devices, and ultra high frequency readers with antennae at points below decks. The equipment enables mobile registration of SOB.

Dstl said the trial is set to run until June 2022 and will gather information to shape a full requirement to the Defence Equipment and Support agency for future procurement.

Operational feedback

Project manager George Curtis said: “The trial and deployment will generate valuable operational feedback, while providing the Royal Navy with a practical interim personnel accounting solution. It will be a significant enhancement to the safety of Navy personnel, with potential for adoption on other vessels.”

Lieutenant Commander Glen Kerrigan, capital ships weapon engineer in the Royal Navy and outgoing project sponsor, said: “The PAL project has exceeded expectations; this capability is now providing positive evidence that technology can reduce the risk to life of souls onboard and is being used as the primary accounting method on HMS Queen Elizabeth for her global deployment Op Fortis.

“To achieve this success on a strategic defence platform in a highly demanding environment is remarkable for any project; to get this far from a tech demo project is unheard of and has been the result of solid collaboration across defence organisations and suppliers.”


Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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