BLUElink project helps Navy understand and protect the marine environment

Published on MIDN Aaron Wischusen (author), LSIS Jayson Tufrey (photographer)

Topic(s): Science, Technology & Innovation

Lieutenant James Fethers deploys one of fourteen ARGO buoys to be deployed by HMAS Melbourne. (photo: ABIS Jayson Tufrey)
Lieutenant James Fethers deploys one of fourteen ARGO buoys to be deployed by HMAS Melbourne.

A decade long project involving the Royal Australian Navy, CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has delivered an Australian first and world class ocean forecasting system.

Project BLUElink was introduced in 2003 to better understand Australia’s marine environment assisting in Defence operations and maritime safety.

Lieutenant Commander Amy Bulters said the ocean modelling project, BLUElink, had achieved a lot in its ten years, including a number of firsts for Australia.

“Before BLUElink, we lacked even the most basic ocean global forecasting capabilities,” said Lieutenant Commander Bulters.

“We now boast a world class ocean ‘now cast’ and forecasting system that allows us to better predict the marine environment.

“BLUElink has become crucial in the management of naval and maritime operations, particularly from a safety point of view as it has increased our understanding of the ocean.”

Lieutenant Commander Bulters, who has worked on the project for the past 18 months, said the system also allowed the Royal Australian Navy to better exploit the undersea environment for tactical advantage.

“BLUElink Ocean Model data has been integrated into the Acoustic Range prediction system allowing the Royal Australian Navy to better identify sonar performance.

“The identification of these oceanographic features using the BLUElink product has vastly improved the performance of the range-prediction tools and enhanced our tactical decision making.”

United Nations World Ocean Day was celebrated on 8 June, and Lieutenant Commander Bulters said it was important to highlight the contributions BLUElink had made to the protection of the ocean.

“In 2009, BLUElink helped locate a number of ammonium nitrate containers that had fallen overboard from a merchant vessel off Cape Moreton, and provided forecasts for follow-on spill management.”

BLUElink Ocean Modelling relies on a number of inputs from satellites, robotic floats, drifting buoys and moorings which feed into the computer model allowing it to generate accurate forecasts.

Project BLUElink will celebrate the final delivery of project milestones in July this year, at which time systems will transition to a sustainment phase, under the successful three way partnership of the Royal Australian Navy, BoM and CSIRO.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Gallery: https://images.navy.gov.au/S20132286.