Sydney-based Ocius Technologies has won a A$4.9 million contract to deliver five Bluebottle unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) to Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to boost the service’s efforts to advance its unmanned capabilities in the surface and underwater domains.
The deal was announced at the christening ceremony of Bluebottle USVs BARRA (hull number 8) and BOMBARA (hull number 9) held on the sidelines of the company’s Annual General Meeting in in late November.
“Over five years as HNC it has been fantastic being involved with Ocius and seeing Australian technology at the forefront,” said RAN Head of Navy Capability Rear Admiral Peter Quinn.
“Systems like Ocius Bluebottles are really important to our strategy,” he added. “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.”
The Bluebottle USV is a 22 ft solar, wind, and wave-powered vessel centring on a glass-fibre hull and patented lightweight carbon-fibre solar sail and advanced rudder system. The sail automatically retracts in high sea states to ensure the survivability of the USV. According to Ocius Technologies, the USV can also support up to 300 kg of mission equipment and provide a 50 W average payload power for these systems.
The Australian Border Force has also successfully deployed four Bluebottle USVs that have accumulated 23,000 nautical mules of unescorted maritime surveillance patrols off the coast of Western Australia. These are equipped with 360° day/night infrared cameras, radar, and satellite communications.
The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced in mid-November that Bluebottle USVs were deployed by the Australian Army to support border and offshore maritime security during Operation Resolute, and also used to support reconnaissance operations with the army’s Regional Force Surveillance Group.
Earlier in May 2022, Ocius and Thales Australia signed a teaming agreement to integrate the latter’s new thin line Fibre Optic Towed Array to the Bluebottle USV for a persistent underwater ISR capability. The effort is known as Blue Sentry.
by Jr Ng