“One of the defining features that has helped to keep the Royal Navy at the forefront of world navies across the generations is our strong pedigree in the field of innovation. At the turn of the last century, Admiral Jackie Fisher’s reforms led the way for world navies as we transitioned from sail to steam, started building ships with iron and steel instead of wood and became the first to do away with cannon lining the sides of our ships, instead introducing rifled guns in turrets, made accurate by the invention of the first fire control computers. Then, as the last century progressed, we became pioneers in the fields of submarine warfare and maritime aviation, capabilities that to this day remain beyond the reach of many rich and powerful nations.
Now, as we approach the era of machine speed warfare, we’re leading the way again, accelerating the introduction of novel and disruptive technologies. Open architecture command systems, autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning are just some examples of the technology we are already looking to rapidly incorporate into the Fleet as we work our way towards a fully digitized Service.
These complementary technological advances offer a glimpse of the exciting future that awaits us. But in the increasingly complex modern security climate, the Royal Navy must continue to identify and embrace new technologies, both in the new platforms that will make up our future Fleet and by future-proofing the platforms we already have in service, if we are to remain credible and maintain our competitive edge over any potential adversary we might face.
Key to achieving this goal is empowering our people, both within the Service and across the entire Defence Enterprise, to come up with new ideas and to take risks, even if that means failing sometimes during development, so that we never fail on operations. With this objective in mind, I am certain that this year’s DSEI will once again offer a great opportunity for Naval practitioners to meet with partners from industry, academia, and our counterparts from overseas, facilitating a sharing of our knowledge and experience which will be of mutual benefit to all of us.
For almost half a millennium the Royal Navy has stood resolute in defence of British Interests; by seizing the many significant opportunities for technological advance that will be showcased at DSEI, together we will ensure the Royal Navy remains ready to uphold our centuries-old role, whatever challenges the future might have in store.”
First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff