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This Week’s Highlight: Maritime remote-operated vehicles

The Department of Defence’s Mine Warfare & Clearance Diving Systems Program Office (MCDSPO) seeks to replace its remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) with modern technology.

Defence’s maritime ROV system supports Australian clearance diver teams (AUSCDTs) when conducting search, detect, or inspect missions. Maritime ROVs reduce the threat to deployed force personnel, infrastructure, and assets.

To reduce risks, the ROV capability conducts activities before divers enter the water. Navy clearance divers use ROV to locate an object or issue that requires further investigation. Operators use camera and/or sonar and navigation capabilities to position ROV near the object/obstruction. The ROV operator is then able to discern the size, shape, and surface details of the unidentified object/obstruction using the vehicle’s close-range, high-resolution camera and/or sonar.

The ROV operator can communicate findings to inform the overall mission either to deploy divers or other initiative.

Defence’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) has prepared a Request for Tender (RFT) seeking a suitably qualified supplier to provide Maritime ROVs for underwater search and clearance activities.

The successful supplier will provide a maritime ROV system that delivers underwater capability across a broad range of tasks, including, but not limited to:

· search and identification activities using camera, sonar, and navigation systems

· intervention activities using an integrated grabber/cutter

· recovery activities using an integrated grabber and/or recovery basket.

The maritime ROV system includes the vehicle, controller, tether, cutter/grabber, and any ancillaries to enable it to meet all essential requirements. The ROV shall be deployable from a:

· general-purpose inflatable boat (Zodiac MK IV)

· rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB)

· wharf.

To articulate the functions required of the ROV, MCDSPO has developed two operations. It expects the ROV to conduct search, identification, and basic render-safe in both operations.

Maritime Operation 1 – explosive-laden PVC pipe on a wharf with command wire. The IED is a PVC pipe (200mm length, 80mm diameter) connected directly to a pylon with thick cable ties. Defence expects clearance diving teams inspecting the wharf before the berth of a large ship to find this and similar threats, and exercise neutralisation options.

Maritime Operation 2 – limpet mines with time detonator and anti-tamper device. A Canberra-class amphibious assault ship (LHD) is to arrive at a commercial wharf to support ADF operations. Before the LHD arrives into port, clearance teams must search the wharf and seabed for emplaced devices that will target the vessel on arrival. While docked into port, they find a device attached to the LHD.

MCDSPO will shortlist tenders during December 2023 and require them to demonstrate their proposed systems in February 2024 at a Sydney-based location.

The closing time and date for responses is 4pm ACT local time on  1 November 2023.

If you are after further advice on this topic or any tender opportunity, feel free to contact us. You can also subscribe to this newsletter for regular weekly updates.

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