The Royal Australian Navy has received its fifth and last Ocius Bluebottle unmanned surface vessel (USV), showcased at an induction ceremony.
It showcased its new seven-meter (23 feet) autonomous maritime surveillance vehicle on June 9 in Randwick, Sydney.
Adding the USV to its fleet of four already in service, the vessel will be deployed for coastal surveillance, protection of fisheries, and anti-smuggling operations.
Speaking at the induction ceremony for the Royal Australian Navy’s new maritime surveillance craft, Commodore Darron Kavanagh said, “One of the beauties of all these smaller vessels is that they complement our existing fleet really well. The persistence of these vessels allow them to remain out for long periods of time rather than crewed vessels, which come back for crew respite.”
Kavanagh also hinted at the possibility of using the craft for undersea surveillance.
“At the moment, we’ve been very fixated on maritime and fisheries protection. But also, we’ve been doing work on undersea surveillance as well,” he said.
“We see an opportunity with this sort of platform because of how quiet it is, it makes a perfect platform for listening undersea. Also, in the future, we see it being a potential platform for being able to be used in more things like detecting submarines.”
The Bluebottle USV
Locally developed by Ocius Technology, the Bluebottle USV uses wind, waves, and the sun to power three propulsion units.
The sea drones were developed by the Sydney engineering firm under the Defence Innovation Hub program, investing in innovations to support Australian defense.
The use of renewable energy resources allows the craft to cover long distances and remain at sea for extended periods, autonomously monitoring designated areas.
The Bluebottle reportedly features a speed of 5 knots with 50W of average payload power. It can carry a 300 kilogram (661 pounds) modular payload and be launched from boat ramps or ships.
The Royal Australian Navy received its first two Bluebottles in March of this year.