Underwater vehicles set course

Published on LEUT Harry Hubbert (author)

Location(s): Pittwater, NSW

Topic(s): Training, HMAS Penguin, Unmanned/Remote Systems

One of the autonomous underwater vehicles used during the course at the HMAS Penguin Pittwater annex. (photo: Unknown)
One of the autonomous underwater vehicles used during the course at the HMAS Penguin Pittwater annex.

Personnel from Mine Warfare Team 16 and the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic School took part in an Autonomous Underwater Vehicles training course recently.

They were joined by participants from the Australian Maritime College, Tasmania and the University of California-Davis.

The two-week pilot course, conducted at HMAS Penguin’s Pittwater annex, aimed to provide a comprehensive foundation in preparation for the delivery of significant new maritime autonomous systems through project SEA1778 – Deployable Mine Counter-Measures, commencing in 2018.

Led by Dr Alexander Forrest, of the University of California-Davis, with assistance from members of the Australian Maritime College – Isak Bowden-Floyd, Supun Randeni and Peter King – the course aimed to provide the future operators with the skills they needed to handle, maintain and operate the vehicles in a safe and effective manner.

The first of its kind, the course included theory and practical lessons in Autonomous Underwater Vehicles technology, mission planning, fault-finding, launch and recovery, as well as data analysis and optimisation.

Participants used their new-found knowledge to plan, execute and recover the vehicle on a number of missions, as well as to process and analyse the data collected during the missions.

Commanding Officer Mine Warfare Team 16 Lieutenant Commander Ryan Carmichael said the experience was invaluable for the divers.

“A key component to the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle’s development program is maximising opportunities to engage with and learn from organisations already operating these vehicles, such as the Australian Maritime College and Defence Science and Technology Group, as well as our partner nations,” Lieutenant Commander Carmichael said.

“This course was an exciting step in the right direction for generating a deployable Mine Counter-Measure capability in support of maritime task groups of the future.”

In total, 15 hours of vehicle missions were conducted over 55 operational hours using two Teledyne-Gavia man portable vehicles.

They were provided by the Australian Maritime College as well as the Science and Technology Group.

The vehicles collected high quality sonar imagery and detailed bathymetric products of the ocean floor, including mooring blocks and miscellaneous items.

The successful course was the first step in the implementation of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles into Royal Australian Navy service.