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Austal Australia and Saildrone sign teaming agreement

Perth-based Austal Australia and US company Saildrone Inc. have signed an exclusive Teaming Agreement to jointly identify opportunities to collaborate on the manufacture of the 20 metre Saildrone Surveyor, in Australia, for deployments in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Saildrone Surveyor USV is 20 metres long and designed specifically for deep ocean mapping and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) applications, above and below the surface. The Surveyor is autonomous and uncrewed, offering extreme endurance, reliability, and cost-effective operations.

Earlier this year Saildrone Inc announced it has developed a smaller, 33-foot (10m) variant of the Voyager for the Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fisheries, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), law enforcement and harbour and border security markets.

In Henderson, WA, Austal, with its principal sub-contractor L3Harris, is modifying a de-commissioned RAN patrol boat, the former HMAS Maitland which it has renamed Sentinel, to undertake Test and Evaluation (T&E) of autonomous and remotely operated ships and systems. The Patrol Boat Autonomy Trial (PBAT) is a collaboration between Austal, the Trusted Autonomous System Defence CRC, and the RAN’s Warfighting Innovation Navy (WIN) Branch. Trials are expected to begin in October this year.

Saildrone has amassed nearly 1 million miles and 25,000 days at sea with its 120-strong fleet of long-endurance, uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs). Saildrone Inc is based in San Francisco but will be establishing Saildrone Australia in 2023 to cater to the commercial and government sector in Australia and the broader Indo-Pacific Region.

The company entered a strategic partnership with Austal USA in August 2022 to construct Saildrone Surveyor USVs at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama. This new Teaming Agreement in Australia builds upon the successful partnership in the United States and further strengthens the relationship between the two companies in the development and construction of uncrewed surface vehicle technology.

Austal Limited Chief Executive Officer Paddy Gregg said the Teaming Agreement was a logical move and an excellent opportunity for Austal Australia and Saildrone to collaborate.

“This Agreement allows us to bring Saildrone Surveyor manufacturing to Australia, building in parallel with Austal USA. 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,” Mr Gregg said.

Saildrone Inc.’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer Richard Jenkins is an Australian National, having grown up in the southwest of Western Australia. Mr Jenkins went to school mainly in the UK and moved to America in 2009 to start the business. “It is fantastic to be bringing technology, innovation, and investment back to Australia, and specifically to my home city of Perth,” said Mr Jenkins.

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