The battles, the evolution of warships then to the future
HMS Hi-tech, the warship of the future: Royal Navy's Dreadnought 2050 has space-age control room, 'see-through' hull and a crew of just 50
Sleek and stealthy, it resembles something from Star Wars. In fact, this is what British warships could look like in as little as 35 years.
With RAF jets already being replaced by drones piloted by men sitting at computer screens many miles away, the Royal Navy is now investigating how technology will change the fleet.
The answer, it seems, could be a generation of largely remote-controlled seafaring beasts with ‘speed of light weapons’ and a hull that can make them invisible to the naked eye.
Glimpse of the future: Engineers have unveiled a series of images of the ground-breaking vessel, dubbed Dreadnought 2050
Intimidating: The stunning vessel would push today's science and engineering boundaries to the limit, but experts believe there is no reason elements of it couldn't be incorporated into upcoming designs
The Dreadnought 2050 seen here is a concept ship that could be controlled by only five sailors sitting at screens, much like games consoles.
And the entire ship’s company could be as little as 50, which compares to the 200 needed for current vessels of this size.
Concept images of the ship have been released by a group of leading British electronic systems companies working with naval defence experts Startpoint.
The design includes a new-style operations room allowing commanders to focus on specific locations and threats thousands of miles away, from the deep ocean to deep space, using 3D holographics.
The ship is fitted with speed of light weapons, while the ultra-strong acrylic hull, coated in a form of carbon called graphene, could be made see-through.
Worthy of USS Enterprise: The new-style operations room that would give commanders the ability to focus on specific zones from up to thousands of miles away
The triple hull design would allow the Dreadnought to cut through the waves at high speed, while the sleek lines above the surface, where there are no obvious gun emplacements, also increase the speed.
There would be an electro-magnetic gun at the bow, capable of firing projectiles the same distance as today’s long-range cruise missiles.
At the stern would be a floodable dock area to deploy troops on amphibious raiding missions, or release unmanned underwater vehicles to detect mines.
Innovation: The Royal Navy's fleet robotics officer believes the designs answer the demand for the defence ministry to produce an operational edge
Predecessors: The surface ship is named for the original battleship HMS Dreadnought, which entered service in 1906
Above that would be a large, extendable flight deck and hangar for remotely piloted drones, many equipped with weapons, which could target the enemy without putting the crew in harm’s way.
And along the ship’s sides would be missile tubes for defensive hypersonic missiles – directed energy weapons to stop small enemy craft loaded with explosives.
The outrigger hulls would contain tubes to fire special torpedoes which travel through water in a near frictionless air bubble that allows speeds of more than 345mph.
Muir Macdonald, from Startpoint, said: ‘These concepts point the way to cutting-edge technology which can be acquired at less cost and operated with less manpower than anything at sea today in the world’s leading navies.’
THE NAMESAKE OF THE ROYAL NAVY'S 'WARSHIP OF THE FUTURE' THAT INSPIRED A FLEET - THE DREADNOUGHT
Battle-ready: Dreadnoughts at sea in the English Channel in 1914, named for the original HMS Dreadnought which entered into service in 1906
When the HMS Dreadnought was entered into service in 1906, she represented such an advance in naval engineering that her name came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships.
The previous generation of vessels became utterly obsolete, and were given the unfortunate term, ‘the pre-dreadnoughts’.
She was the first battleship to have a uniform main battery, rather than having a few large guns backed up by a heavy second battery of smaller guns.
She was also the first to be powered by steam turbines, making her the fastest battleship in the world at the time of her completion.
The vessel was relegated to coastal defence duties in the English Channel after Jutland, only rejoining the Grand Fleet in 1918. She was reduced to reserve in 1919 and sold for scrap in 1923.