(CommGovSpin) Defence tests new underwater vehicle technology in Portland

Submitted by Editor on Wed, 24/11/2004 - 01:08

The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) today demonstrated its latest technology for undersea navigation and surveillance capability by taking an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) through its paces in Portland, Victoria.

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Department of Defence Media Mail List
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DSTO 36/04
Saturday 20 November, 2004

The trial involved Navy Reserve divers placing dummy sea mines at known positions in the Portland Port area to enable the DSTO-developed UUV Wayamba to hunt these objects. The locations of the mines were then confirmed using underwater navigation and communications technology.

Ms Janis Cocking, Research Leader in DSTO's Platforms Sciences Laboratory, said Wayamba was a research vehicle to test concepts of operations and technologies for future defence applications of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles.

"UUVs are poised to play a major role in support of defence because they enable Defence personnel to be separated from areas of extreme danger. In the future, UUVs could be used to support amphibious operations by undertaking rapid environmental assessments, to detect underwater mines and other maritime hazards, and conduct hydrographic surveys," Ms Cocking said.

"Given their potential to operate undetected, UUVs may join our submarines in the longer term as part of Australia's 'Silent Service'," Ms Cocking said.

DSTO has made a significant commitment to the development of a UUV-related research and development infrastructure, of which the Wayamba testbed is an important part. Wayamba is an aboriginal word for sea turtle.

Ms Cocking said Wayamba was designed to be both powerful and highly manoeuvrable. "It enables us to study precision control of UUVs in operationally demanding environments, such as may occur if the vehicles were required to work in ports or near other man-made maritime structures."

The vehicle is equipped with a comprehensive range of on-board navigation, communications and surveillance sensors, with the capacity to carry quite large additional 'payloads'. One of the key features of the Wayamba underwater vehicle technology is the ability to navigate and communicate with the outside world without the need to surface. This is being achieved through a collaborative research project between DSTO and WA company Nautronix Ltd.

The Portland trial involved staff from DSTO, Nautronix Ltd, Swinburne University of Technology, Victoria University and the Australian Maritime College (Tasmania). They will be undertaking various scientific activities associated with autonomous underwater vehicles.

Ms Cocking thanked the Port of Portland, the Local Council and the local community for their cooperation and support during the trial.

Media Contact:
Karina Clement - Mobile: 0419 991 909

Wayamba photos can be downloaded from www.dsto.defence.gov.au

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