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NSW defence industry on display ahead of PACIFIC 2019

NSW defence industry on display ahead of PACIFIC 2019

Deputy Premier and Minister for Industry John Barilaro has revealed that 16 high-tech defence companies are set to unveil their equipment at the 2019 PACIFIC Expo.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Industry John Barilaro has revealed that 16 high-tech defence companies are set to unveil their equipment at the 2019 PACIFIC Expo.

PACIFIC is the only comprehensive defence and marine technology exhibition of its kind in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“NSW is a high-tech state and home of one of the world’s largest biannual defence and maritime industry events, the PACIFIC International Maritime Expo,” Minister Barilaro said.

“PACIFIC is one of the best opportunities we have as a state to showcase the existing strengths and capabilities of the NSW defence sector and our local industry.

“NSW defence and maritime companies will be exhibiting to win global export sales and we will be directly supporting 16 of them on our stand to open doors and close deals.” 

The previous PACIFIC exhibition held in Sydney in 2017 attracted 546 exhibiting companies, over 16,700 attendances, and 79 senior military and industry delegations from 53 countries.

PACIFIC will provide a global showcase for our commercial maritime and naval defence industries to promote their capabilities to decision-makers from around the world.


The Deputy Premier witnessed co-exhibitor Ocius Technology demonstrating its smart Bluebottle unmanned surface vessel (USV) on the waters of Sydney Harbour.

Known as ‘Bob’, the USV is capable of performing ocean surveillance roles in applications including defence, offshore energy, and science using only the sun, wind, and waves as its source of energy.  

The BlueBottle USVs are autonomous data gathering and communications platforms, described as like 'satellites of the sea'. They offer multiple economic and operational advantages over conventional methods of ocean surveillance, such as:

  • Continuous coverage;
  • Wide coverage;
  • Greatly reduced capital costs;
  • Greatly reduced operational costs – no fuel, food or crew;
  • Elimination of errors due to human fatigue; and
  • No people or expensive assets in harm's way.

Ocius is working with two major private-sector partners to develop USVs capable of undertaking specific high-value applications in hydrography and defence.

BlueBottle has its origins following an inquiry from the US in 2007 for a ‘self-sustaining platform at sea’. Ocius began research into the development of unmanned solar/wind/wave and ballasted powered ocean vessels or autonomous USVs. Initially, a 20-foot manned engineering development model (EDM) proved the 'speed of advance' in all conditions, adequate power, payload and persistence for a sustainable platform able to go to sea for months.

With Ulladulla Fibreglass and Engineering, Ocius built multiple scale models for tank and lake testing, culminating in the building of the first 10-foot prototype called 'Nemo' (Latin for 'no one' i.e. unmanned), which provided significant proof of concept of a solar, wind and wave powered USV carrying a significant payload.

Based on Nemo's development, in 2015 Ocius was awarded a $3 million capability technology demonstrator (CTD) from Defence Science and Technology Group. This proved a significant contract and Ocius, with partners, developed an 18-foot prototype, 'Bruce', for anti-submarine warfare.

“Ocius Technology is a fantastic example of the smart systems for which NSW is renowned and its Bluebottle prototypes continue to impress in naval trials,” said NSW defence advocate Air Marshal (Ret'd) John Harvey AM.

“The Bluebottle can complement our Navy’s existing capabilities with potentially hundreds deployed at sea conducting maritime surveillance of Australia’s vast coastline.”

Ocius Technology chairman Mark Bethwaite said the global USV market for defence applications alone is estimated to be worth around $4 billion by 2020.

“Bluebottle USVs have greater power, payload and performance compared to known competitors and are able to navigate freely and indefinitely across the world’s oceans. Ocius is already working with two major private sector partners to develop USVs capable of performing specific high value applications in hydrography and defence,” Bethwaite said. 

PACIFIC will see companies exhibiting from Wollongong, Newcastle, Queanbeyan, Nowra and Yamba, as well as companies from Sydney.

PACIFIC 2019 will take place at the Sydney International Convention Centre from 8-10 October 2019.

Stephen Kuper

Stephen Kuper

Steve has an extensive career across government, defence industry and advocacy, having previously worked for cabinet ministers at both Federal and State levels.