HMSML Gleaner, the Royal Navy’s smallest ship and with a crew of just eight sailors, has decommissioned at Devonport Naval Base after 35 years of service.
The vessel began her career as the Royal Navy’s Inshore Survey Vessel in 1983. Since then she has operated in the majority of ports around the UK ensuring that safety of navigation is maintained.
Gleaner was built to survey waters other craft could not get; despite her size she’s crammed with the latest sonar equipment to measure the seabed around key ports in unparalleled detail.
She was used to survey the Mary Rose wreck site ahead of extensive dredging work to make sure nothing of Henry VIII’s flagship was left on the Solent seabed before the diggers moved in.
More than a decade later, she scoured every inch of Portsmouth Harbor and its approaches to clear the way for dredging to allow the safe entry and exit of HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Gleaner’s replacement was recently announced by the First Sea Lord as HMS Magpie. She is due to be delivered to the Royal Navy in the summer of 2018.
The new ship is a modern catamaran design which will enable the Navy to harness the latest technology and operate a more diverse range of survey equipment, including autonomous underwater vehicles.