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RAN to acquire fleet of locally built USVs

RAN to acquire fleet of locally built USVs

A NSW-based maritime company has been selected to deliver five USVs to the Royal Australian Navy.

A NSW-based maritime company has been selected to deliver five USVs to the Royal Australian Navy.

Ocius Technology has secured a contract with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to deliver five of its locally built Bluebottle uncrewed surface vessel (USV) over the 2023 financial year (FY23). 

The announcement was made during a christening ceremony for Ocius’ latest USVs, dubbed “BARRA” and ‘BOMBORA.  


The ceremony was attended by Head of Navy Capability (HNC), Rear Admiral Pete Quinn, who reflected on the evolution of Ocius Technology’s local USV program.

“Over five years as HNC, it has been fantastic being involved with Ocius and seeing Australian technology at the forefront,” he said.

“Systems like Ocius Bluebottles are really important to our strategy.

“We have vast areas we need to patrol, and we have to and will be investing in uncrewed platforms that will be out there persistently conducting surveillance.”

Ocius CEO Robert Dane reflected on the impact of the award on the company’s growth in the defence space.

“This contract makes Ocius a defence prime; not a very big one … but from little things big things grow” and “to be a long-lasting Defence Prime we need two things: innovative products and people,” he said.

“…Any innovative product will one day not be innovative — it will become the benchmark so Ocius must have continuous innovation of our Bluebottles, iDrogue, Loyal Shipmate and other products and create a culture where our people, University of NSW academics, and subcontractors feel the excitement of innovation.”

This contract comes after five Bluebottle USVs completed nearly 23,000 nautical miles over the past 15 months as part of a Defence Innovation Hub contract — equivalent to a trip around the equator.  

Earlier this year, Ocius Technology signed a teaming agreement with Thales Australia, aimed at advancing the development of a scalable USV capability, designed to perform anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and surveillance operations.

This involves leveraging Ocius Technology’s Blue Sentry autonomous system, made up of a team of Ocius Bluebottle USVs.

The platforms would be integrated with Thales Australia’s new thin line fibre optic towed array capability, supporting long-endurance intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in challenging weather conditions.  

The towed array capability — designed, developed, and manufactured at Thales Australia’s Acoustics Centre of Excellence in NSW — was first deployed on the Collins Class submarine fleet to enable advanced threat detection and classification at sea.

The USV variant of the technology is billed as a miniaturised version of a submarine fibre optic towed array, enabling autonomous detection, classification, and localisation of craft on the surface or below the water, generating acoustic noise or producing acoustic reflections.

The Blue Sentry system’s autonomous detection capabilities are also expected to enable covert communication to allies below the surface using long-range low frequency underwater communications.

[Related: Thales Australia, Ocius Technologies establish USV partnership]

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