Greetings from CeBit Sydney I took time out to visit the conference next door, which is the IEEE Oceans'10 exhibition. This is on technology for ocean surveillance. Prominently on display are AUVs, the underwater equivalent of the robot aircraft which have come to prominence in the war in Afghanistan. The underwater equivalent is at an earlier stage of development, due to the difficulties of the marine environment and the conservatism of naval decision makers.
The first stand I visited was the US Navy's NAVSEA Undersea Warfare Centre Division. Dr. Thresea A. Baus is Head of Technology Partnership Enterprise Office. The US Navy helped Australia out with problems with the Collins Class submarine. If the Australian Government decides to build an even larger and more ambitious replacement for the Collins class, then it is likely that US Navy assistance will be critical to the venture having a chance of success.
CSIRO were displaying a Long Line Camera System used for recording data on Blue Fin Tuna. This is critical to international negations on the management of fish stocks. The camera is a commercial model housed in a very rugged waterproof housing. This is attached to the fishing line and is triggered by a bated acoustic tag. The tuna takes the bait, activating the camera. The pinger remains active in the fish for up to a year, allowing its migration habits to be tracked. This system has obvious
military applications, as well as its original civilian use.
DSTO were displaying several types of glider UAVs. These have proved popular in the last few years for research, allowing a long range sensor to be deployed which does not require frequent re-charging or refueling. The gliders change the buoyancy to "glide" up and down in the ocean. These units also have military application due to the silent running and long range.
DSTO has developed the Murula glider to be launched from the standard 21" torpedo tube of the Collins class submarine. However, it is likely the Collins replacement will have a tube specifically designed for launching and recovering UAVs as well as crewed midget submarines.