Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Plastic warships

I was watching the local news this morning and there was a report on the Royal Navy using minesweeper ships in the Gulf to keep waterways clear to allow oil tankers a safe passage.  I was only half listening but then I heard the phrase 'plastic bottomed minesweepers', and my interest was piqued. Why would the ships be plastic? What Plastic?
HMS Atherstone in the Middle East. Photographer: LA(Phot) Stuart Hill
Image 45151301.jpg from www.defenceimages.mod.uk

The Hunt Class of 'mine countermeasures vessels' were first introduced in 1979.  They have a wooden hull which has an external layer of Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP). This material combination means that the vessel can withstand a nearby blast and also gives it a low magnetic signature so as not to trigger the mines. More information about these vessels can be found on the Armed Forces website http://www.armedforces.co.uk/navy/listings/l0017.html

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

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