MHPC, or Maritime Hydrographic and Patrol Capability Programme, was a Royal Navy programme from early 2010 that had evolved from the previous ‘C3’ designation in a previous programme.
It was envisaged as a ship between 2,500 tonnes and 3,000 tonnes displacement that would replace the current fleet of patrol, mine countermeasures and some of the survey vessels.
A number of commenters seemed to think this would evolve into a ‘light frigate’ type design, the BMT Venator being a hot favourite.
With the advances in unmanned MCM and industrial issues surrounding the latest RN Offshore Patrol Vessels the P was dropped a short while ago and a recent FOI response confirmed the particulars.
The Mine countermeasures, Hydrographic and Patrol Capability Programme (MHPC) has now been renamed the Mine countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability (MHC). The name was changed following the announcement of the Maritime Composite Option (MCO) deal between MoD and BAE on 6 November 2013, which included the purchase of 3 new Offshore Patrol Vessels and therefore delivered the ‘Patrol’ solution.
Work undertaken during the Concept Phase produced compelling evidence that unmanned, off-board systems (OBS), deployed from low-value steel ships, or from ashore, could deliver most elements of the capability. However, a solution based on like-for-like replacement of the current, low-signature Mine Countermeasures Vessels (MCMVs) and Survey Vessels (SVHOs) cannot yet be discounted.
The Programme passed ‘Initial Gate’ in July 2014 and was approved to proceed to the Assessment Phase with the associated funding. MHC has been designed as a transformational and incremental programme that will update and subsequently replace the full existing MCM and Hydrographic capabilities to provide assured maritime freedom of manoeuvre, delivering minehunting, minesweeping and hydrographic mission systems (including remote controlled OBS) to legacy and future platforms.
Marine OBS are widely used in the commercial sector, but are not yet fully proven for naval operations. The Assessment Phase will aim to reduce the risks associated with the naval use of OBS and determine the cost-effectiveness through:
- Three advanced technology demonstrators.
- A controlled trials programme.
- Technical studies and programme analysis.
The Assessment Phase is now underway, albeit in its early stages.
So there you go.