Portuguese Navy Orders Unique Multi-Purpose Vessel Able to Launch Drones

Portugal multi-purpose vessel
Multi-purpose vessel will support drones and uncrewed surface and underwater craft as well as a research lab (Damen)

Published Dec 3, 2023 8:32 PM by The Maritime Executive


The Portuguese Navy working with the Damen Shipyards Group has developed the designs for a unique Multi-Purpose vessel that will be a platform to incorporate the use of drones and uncrewed vessels into its operations along with helicopters. The resulting design is a flexible vessel that is capable of maritime safety and naval support operations, search and rescue, and emergency relief in addition to primary mission roles including supporting oceanic research.  

“We are convinced that this vessel will represent a major milestone in the naval sector,” said Arnout Damen, CEO of Damen Shipyards Group. “It is the first of its kind, with the highest capabilities to create awareness, deploy, and manage all types of drones. This vessel’s multi-purpose functionality will enable the Portuguese Navy to develop the most demanding missions and at the same time the ability to perform research activities in the deepest areas of the ocean.”

Damen developed the design for the 107-meter (351-foot) long Multi-Purpose Vessel based on the specific requirements of the Portuguese Navy. With funding from the European Union’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) which is part of NextGenerationEU (the economic recovery package to support EU member states affected by the COVID-19 pandemic), Damen was recently awarded the contract for the design, construction, and outfitting of the vessel.

For the naval support role, the vessel will have numerous design features to enable its operations. This will include a stern ramp for UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles) and USVs (Unmanned Surface Vehicles) as well as a 94x11-meter flight deck and hangars for UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). For its roles as an oceanic research and monitoring scope of operations, the vessel will be equipped with laboratories and accommodation for scientific staff.

The new vessel will be classified by the Portuguese Navy as a Multifunctional Naval Platform (PNM). To fully match this vessel designation, Damen has collaborated closely with the Portuguese Navy to incorporate future versatility into the design. 

Other features of the design include a 650m2 cargo deck and space for twelve 20-foot containers. Damen notes that this will permit the vessel to use modular systems, such as containerized hospital facilities, hyperbaric chambers, or ROV equipment as required during its operations.