A Royal Navy survey boat visited the coastal town of Salcombe over three days last week.

HMS Magpie, an 18-metre long catamaran, is affiliated to the town and the visit was intended to celebrate the vessel’s close links with the community.

The crew met with council officials and dignitaries, and later gave a demonstration of the vessel’s abilities during a two-hour trip around the Kingsbridge Estuary.

The 32-tonne vessel entered service in 2018 and is tasked with collecting data for homeland defence as well as the UK’s Hydrographic Office, which in turn provides data to mariners and maritime organisations across the globe.

Designed to survey the UK’s inshore waters up to a depth of 100 meters, the catamaran is packed with high-tech gear, including multi-beam echo sounders, which allows the crew to build 3-D pictures of the sea bed and identify large objects such as shipwrecks and pipelines.

The vessel’s commander, Lt Cdr Nicholas Radue, said: “With the equipment we have, we can get a pretty high definition look of wrecks. We’ve done HMS Scylla (in Whitsand Bay) and a few off Northern Ireland.”

During his time as commander, he and his crew have surveyed the waters off Northern Ireland, Wales and the South West of England. A mission to inspect the waters of Loch Ness is scheduled later in the summer.

Surveying underwater wrecks on a regular basis is a key aspect of the job, as the crew has to ensure they pose no threat to the environment or other vessels due to the fact that many still hold large quantities of fuel oil.