Photo: 27 Aug 2001; Portsmouth
Built by Vosper Thornycroft for the Navy for evaluation of the hull form for Future Surface Combatant.
The vessel is operated for the Navy by QinetiO (Formerly DERA) and is a two third scale size demonstrator
The Triton Trimaran Research Ship was a technology demonstrator ship for the Royal Navy's Future Surface Combatant (FSC) frigate requirement, due to enter service from 2013 and replace the Type 23 frigates. Triton is the world's largest motor powered trimaran (triple-hulled) vessel, with a length of 90m and beam of 22m. QinetiQ (formerly DERA, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) funded the design and manufacture of the vessel, to be used to quantify the structural and sea keeping performance of the trimaran.
In August 1998, the UK Ministry of Defence awarded a contract to Vosper Thornycroft to construct the Trimaran, called RV (Research Vessel) Triton. The vessel was launched in May 2000 and delivered in August 2000. Triton then began a two-year risk reduction trials programme for the UK MOD and the US Department of Defence.
Following completion of the trials programme, Triton has been used as a trials platform for other QinetiQ technologies including the composite propeller.
In January 2005, Triton was sold to Gardline Marine Sciences, a UK company based in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Triton will be used for hydrographical survey work for the Civil Hydrography Programme (CHP) on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The vessel is being fitted with a sensor suite which includes the Kongsberg Simrad EM1002 multi-beam echo-sounder, a GPS attitude / heading system, surface navigation and ultra-short baseline sub-surface acoustic tracking system, Gardline Voyager5 integrated survey system and Caris post-processing system. Information copied from : NavalTechnology.com
In December 2006, Gardline contracted the Triton to the Australian Customs Service to patrol Australia's northern waters as one of the service's fleet of patrol vessels. Australian Customs Vessel Triton has been fitted with two .50 calibre heavy machine guns and carries up to 28 armed customs officers. The ship arrived from the UK in mid-January 2007 and started operations immediately. It is reported that ACV Triton has been modified to provide additional accommodation at the expense of ballast, which has apparently reduced the vessels inherent stability. Amendment:Information from Wikipedia
Her official title was RV (Research Vessel) Triton and was the baby of Defence Evaluation Research Agency as a Trimaran Demonstrator to evaluate various design concepts. I am not 100% sure but I don't think she was an RN commissioned or even RN crewed vessel or she would have been HMS. Arguably she should probably in the "Special Purpose Vessels" section.
Like you I do not believe she was commissioned ino the Navy and was not HMS, I did consider the Special Purpose option, but in the end followed the other entries for the vessl into the RN section.