Navy's unmanned sub will be deployed to defend our undersea cables

Navy’s unmanned sub will be deployed to defend our undersea cables and pipes amid fears of Russian attack

  • An attack by Russia on Britain’s underwater infrastructure would be act of war
  • The 17-ton Cetus is being made in Plymouth and can be rapidly deployed 
  • The unmanned submarine is due to be delivered to the Royal Navy in two years

Britain is to deploy a £15million unmanned submarine to provide around-the-clock protection for internet and energy cables on the sea bed.

The battery-powered 12metre-long Cetus drone will offer a ‘step-change’ in the UK’s ability to ‘dominate the underwater battlespace’, according to the head of the Royal Navy, Admiral Sir Ben Key.

An attack by Russia on this country’s underwater infrastructure in the Atlantic and the North Sea would be considered an act of war. 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: ‘We’ve seen worries about critical national infrastructure, gas pipelines, internet cables’ 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: ‘We’ve seen worries about critical national infrastructure, gas pipelines, internet cables. In order to meet the growing underwater threats the Royal Navy needs to be ahead of the competition with cutting-edge capabilities.’

The 17-ton Cetus is being made in Plymouth. It is easy to transport and can be rapidly deployed to wherever there is a threat. It is due to be delivered to the Royal Navy in two years.

The development comes after UK armed forces chief Admiral Tony Radakin warned in January that there has been a ‘phenomenal increase in Russian submarine and underwater activity’ over the past 20 years.

While President Putin would be the prime suspect, it would be difficult for the UK to prove beyond doubt he had ordered the attack, according to defence insiders

According to Admiral Radakin, most of the world’s information travels through undersea cables, meaning Putin could cause enormous damage to Britain’s economy by severing the cables. In all likelihood he would also be able to deny responsibility.

While President Putin would be the prime suspect, it would be difficult for the UK to prove beyond doubt he had ordered the attack, according to defence insiders.

The Cetus drone will work in tandem with the Royal Navy’s new frigates such as HMS Glasgow which was launched earlier this week.

Scottish shipyards have orders to build 13 frigates, with the type 31 vessels being built by Babcock at Rosyth on the east coast and the Type 26 ships being constructed by BAE Systems on the Clyde.

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