Collaboration leads to exciting innovation

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Max Logan (author), POIS James Whittle (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Coonawarra, Darwin, NT

Topic(s): HMAS Maitland (P88), Innovation

Royal Australian Navy Navy personnel with staff from EPE and the Defence Innovation Hub following the successful completion of the Maritime PRIED demonstration. (photo: POIS James Whittle)
Royal Australian Navy Navy personnel with staff from EPE and the Defence Innovation Hub following the successful completion of the Maritime PRIED demonstration.

The Defence Innovation Hub has worked closely with Navy in the Top End to test an exciting system designed for use in the maritime environment.

The prototype Maritime Portable Raman Improvised Explosive Detector (Maritime PRIED) was developed under contract between the recently established Defence Innovation Hub and contractor EPE.

Members of Navy’s Patrol Boat Crew Support Squadron and the Armidale Class patrol boat HMAS Maitland conducted a number of test serials during the PRIED demonstration, including operating the device in a classroom, boarding a simulated suspect vessel and searching a car for explosives in a force protection scenario ashore.

The presence of experienced boarding party members during the trials ensured that the technology was used by the operators in a manner that closely represented actual conditions and procedures. Second-in-charge of HMAS Maitland’s boarding party, Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate James Rollo and Petty Officer Boatswain Adam Hubbard experienced first-hand the potential for the technology to be used in the maritime environment.

“We conducted a test of a prototype piece of equipment for the detection of explosive ordnance as well as potentially dangerous substances,” Leading Seaman Rollo said.

“It was a lot of fun to work with the Australian innovators and test the equipment in the maritime environment and ashore in various scenarios.

“The ability to conduct an interrogation of a potentially suspect substance at a safe distance is a very exciting prospect.”

While the demonstration celebrated a successful development project between the Defence Innovation Hub and EPE, facilitated by Navy, insertion of any capability into service is subject to the prototype being further developed based on experience gained during the demonstration and any subsequent evaluation and tender process.

Assistant Director Project Management & Delivery, Mr Duncan Watson said bringing innovators together with the Defence Innovation Hub and RAN was positive.

“The event marked an important milestone for EPE to demonstrate the prototype PRIED as part of the Defence Innovation Hub program.

“The Hub enables Defence, industry and research organisations to collaborate on innovative technologies that can be developed into an advanced capability for Defence.

“Any Australian company can submit proposals to the Hub; we have signed 62 new contracts to date with a combined value of over $76.2 million,” Mr Watson said.

The Defence Innovation Hub was launched in December 2016 as an initiative of the Defence Industry Policy Statement.

The Hub will invest around $640 million over the decade to 2025-26 to mature and further develop technologies that have moved from early science stages into the engineering and development stages of the innovation process.