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Royal Australian Navy to acquire five Bluebottle USVs from Ocius

Sydney-based Ocius has signed a contract of undisclosed value with the RAN to supply five Bluebottle Uncrewed Surface vessels (USV) this financial year. The announcement was made by RADM Pete Quinn Head of Navy Capability following the company’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday 24 November 2022.

“Over five years as HNC it has been fantastic being involved with Ocius and seeing Australian technology at the forefront,” said RADM Quinn. “Systems like Ocius Bluebottles are really important to our strategy. We have vast areas we need to patrol, and we have to and will be investing in uncrewed platforms that will be out there persistently conducting surveillance.”

Ocius CEO, Robert Dane said “This contract makes Ocius a Defence Prime; not a big one… but from little things big things grow.”

He added, “To be a long-lasting Defence Prime we need two things – innovative products and people. Any innovative product will one day not be innovative – it will become the benchmark, so Ocius must have continuous innovation of our Bluebottles, iDrogue, Loyal Shipmate and other products and create a culture where our people, University of NSW academics and subcontractors feel the excitement of innovation.”

Earlier in November Defence confirmed that the Bluebottle has been used on live operations by the ADF for the first time. A Bluebottle USV was used by the Army’s 7th Regional Force Surveillance Group (RFSG) rotation to provide a 24/7 on-water surveillance capability off north Western Australia, with the flexibility to be readily manoeuvred to respond to emerging surveillance requirements or tasks. An Ocius employee was also embedded in the RFSG headquarters.

During the two-week deployment in October, the RFSG contingent conducted surveillance and reconnaissance on and around remote islands off Australia looking for foreign fishing vessels and evidence of illegal activities. In the last 15 months, five Bluebottles manufactured under the company’s previous Defence Innovation Hub contract had covered nearly 23,000 nautical miles at sea which was equivalent to a global circumnavigation at the equator, said Robert Dane.

The Ocius AGM also included a naming ceremony for Bluebottle hulls numbers 8 and -, to be called BARRA and BOMBORA.

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