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Austal, Saildrone to Collaborate on Surveyor Sea Drone for Indo-Pacific

Austal Australia and Saildrone have signed an agreement to identify opportunities to collaborate on the manufacture of a Surveyor unmanned surface vessel for the Indo-Pacific region.

The collaboration follows the team’s strategic partnership signed in 2022 to build Saildrone Surveyor units at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama.

According to Austal, the agreement with Saildrone is a “logical” approach to enhancing their relationship in sea drone technology.

“This agreement allows us to bring Saildrone Surveyor manufacturing to Australia, building in parallel with Austal USA,” Austal Limited CEO Paddy Gregg said.

“This increases our ability to rapidly scale to meet the demands we anticipate in the Indo-Pacific region. This industry-leading technology complements our work in the Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial and strengthens our capabilities overall in the autonomous naval vessel market.”

Saildrone’s Surveyor

The Surveyor system is a 20-meter (65-foot) vehicle designed for deep ocean mapping, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

The drone can apply capabilities both above and below the sea surface.

Surveyor’s autonomous features are intended for customers requiring vehicles with high-endurance, reliability, and cost-effective technology.

Surveyor surface drone. Photo: Saildrone
Surveyor surface drone. Photo: Saildrone

Saildrone in International Military Deployments

In 2021, Saildrone provided the US Navy with unmanned surface vehicles supporting an established drone operations joint hub in the Red Sea.

The navy then conducted the first operational trial of Saildrone systems as part of the service’s 5th Fleet autonomous system expansion. The Saildrone started operating in the Arabian Gulf under the fleet later in the year.

Earlier in February, the US and UAE conducted their first bilateral unmanned systems and AI exercise in the Gulf. Saildrone systems were deployed alongside other unmanned surface vehicles to demonstrate ISR capabilities in nearby territories.

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