Tuesday, 22 December 2015

MAST Europe Closes on the Finish Line

MAST Boasts New Quality in the Defence/Security Events Sector 

MAST Events Ltd., best known to the worldwide naval community for their conferences and exhibitions in Gdansk (Poland), Istanbul (Turkey), and Yokohama (Japan), finalises another unique event - MAST Europe 2016 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. According to MAST Events, there will be a busy three-day programme for the thenth anniversary MAST conference and trade-show in June next year, with sponsors and exhibitors expecting high-level participants from many senior-level operators and buyers from around the world. According to the organisation, Chiefs of Navies and Heads of Procurement from the following countries are being invited to take part in the event in Amsterdam next year:
NATO/Europe – Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, UK, USA;
Other Europe – Sweden;
Asia/Pacific – Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam;
Gulf States – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
It is interesting to note that most of these countries have already formulated requirements for comprehensive naval procurement and modernisation programmes, also including naval aviation and related systems, components, and equipment. For instance, there is an urgent need for more advanced shipboard helicopters and unmanned aircraft in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the UAE. Not ignoring land-based aviation like Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) for which nations like Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, and the UK have outlined their requirements, calling for new aircraft or modernised/upgraded airframes. Another country, India, already received new aircraft from the US. And do not forget the massive need of more modern patrol ships by most of these countries, specifically Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, Poland, and the Philippines.
MAST Events can be seen as a pioneer when addressing specific needs of exhibitors and visitors. Therefore, in 2010, the organisation created an Exhibition Steering Group (ESG) and the Executive Advisers Board (EAB), "which play direct roles in the strategic direction and tactical management of MAST and identify the specific needs of our exhibitors and visitors", said Warren Edge, Business Director at MAST Events Ltd. "The NATO Naval Armaments Group became an integral part of the event. Needless to say that we are proud to host their annual meeting in concert with MAST. This creates truly unique networking opportunities during MAST."

The MAST Event team with participants from Japan's defence industry at MAST Eurasia 2014 in Istanbul on 22 May 2014. Photo: Stefan Nitschke

The upcoming conference and trade-show - MAST Europe 2016 - will be testament of this. It will present its exhibitors the optimal event in Europe next year to meet these leaders on a one-to-one basis, according to the organisation. "Similarly, VIPs and visitors can expect to see displays from the world’s leading manufacturers of platforms and systems by way of solutions to their future capabilities needs."
What was heard from numerous participants in Istanbul and Yokohama is that the MAST series of conferences and defence trade-shows are "world-class" events, originating from a fascinating understanding by MAST Event's team of the ever-shanging needs of the naval/maritime community. These reflections underscore many announcements and statements heard from industry and visitors that the concept "made by MAST Events" will be able to shape the style of information sharing among the community, since it is most important that new developments in naval/maritime technology must be shared in time and in a robust, but innovative way.
The philosophy of MAST Eurasia 2014 conducted at the Istanbul Convention & Exhibition Centre (ICEC) in Istanbul in May 2014, for instance, proved to be different from most other international maritime conferences and exhibitions, as it brought completely new insights into the nature of exactly these new naval/maritime technologies. Due to a dramatic growth in the conference, the organiser introduced air and space and undersea domains. Additionally, Japan's first international defence trade-show (MAST Asia), conducted in Yokohama in May 2015, offered a first glimpse about a country that owns a highly advanced defence industry, offering numerous opportunities for exports and cooperation with international partners, namely Australia, India, and the Philippines. MAST Asia, in particular, showed that Japanese defence manufacturers are preparing for global business. The event was simply perfect as it appeared at a time when Tokyo’s self-imposed trade restrictions have been removed.
Maintaining consistency in quality is the MAST Event's main issue. So, the stimulus to introduce the MAST series of international seminars and trade-shows back in 2006 was that there was no global forum dedicated to senior-level maritime security technologists and operators, according to Warren Edge in an interview with NAVAL FORCES in 2014. "The success of the first event and growth since stands testament to having delivered the right event at the right time." MAST Eurasia in Istanbul, for example, hosted 65 exhibitors and received 851 participants to the conference sessions and 428 to the exhibition, coming from 54 countries. The conclusion given by Warren Edge is that the early events were successful simply because MAST was new, offering a refreshing change to other events and focusing primarily on the surface maritime domain.
By Stefan Nitschke

Monday, 30 November 2015

Database Generation for Maritime Simulation

Capability Upgrade

Simulation users and consumers have become accustomed to the high visual quality provided by nowadays computer games, which led to increasing importance of serious games in the simulation industries. With traditional tools and modeling techniques, the results are not convenient with regard to the limited budgets of typical simulation projects, however, especially taking into account the large terrain dimensions regularly demanded.
TrianGraphics GmbH, headquartered in Berlin, Germany, has develop a novel database generation system that meets this new demands for quality as well as for quantity through an extraordinary high level of automation. Besides traditional landscapes for flight, combat or driving simulation, Trian3DBuilder now also supports the generation of large-scale terrains for maritime simulation. A typical terrain project is set up by applying a multitude of input data types typically satellite imagery, height, and vector data in miscellaneous formats. Depending on the input attributes, generation features can be applied and a terrain is written to a visual database with meta-data for various additional simulation tasks like Computer Generated Forces (CGF). In terms of maritime simulation, so-called ENC vector data is imported that is containing all information, which can be found in nautical charts. The standard formats to be used hereby are S57 or the encrypted S63 format. The data is sorted based on the ENC code and all attributes are used on import for post-processing and preserved for later use.

Trian3DBuilder supports the generation of large-scale terrains for maritime simulation.
Photo: TrianGraphics GmbH
The seabed is Delaunay triangulated from the exact coastline as well as depth contour lines, areas, and depth points (soundings). This is combined with a multitude of further terrain generation techniques to form a fully featured database targeting maritime simulation in a matter of only a few hours setup time. Buildings are created from footprints, rails, profiled roads, and junctions are automatically created from the middle lines and canals, rivers, and seas are cut in the terrain mesh. The terrain is further beautified by adding vegetation like huge forest areas and specific models using point object placement.
Especially important for nautical training is the correct placement of buoys. Each buoy is imported with specific model and top mark, as well as exact light assignment including colour, direction, range, intensity, and blink code. Piers and shoreline constructions are also added. When having imported all data and set up, the project the data can optionally be edited and enhanced in the database generation system. The result is optimised for real-time rendering and can be exported to a variety of well-known standard formats like OpenFlight, FBX or VBS. Modern software tools like Trian3DBuilder drastically simplify the generation process for large-scale 3D terrains. Now, also maritime simulations with their very special demands are targeted. This enables the users to generate a landscapes densely populated and of unlimited size. This demand cannot be fulfilled with traditional modeling tools through technical limitations. Even less due to the huge amount of handwork that would need to be invested.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Big Shift

Egypt to Boost Military Presence in the Eastern Mediterranean

For the foreseeable future, Egypt’s Armed Forces tend to embark on increasing deliveries of French military hardware.

The LHD “Vladivostok” originally built for the Russian Navy can accommodate up to 30 helicopters, 40 tanks, and 600 troops.
(Photo: Courtesy of DCNS)

Decisive Element

Increasing purchases of ships, missiles, and airplanes – as observed since early 2014 – are  just a small part of a planned modernisation of Egypt’s Armed Forces. Political circles in Cairo stated that the goal, likely to take a decade or more to realise, is to transform the country’s Armed Forces into capable ones and prepare them for new roles. New fighters, intelligence aircraft, satellites, helicopters, ships, and precision strike missiles are playing a central role within this scheme. This new thinking by the el-Sisi government to increase its military influence in the region is now going to sorely test that rule. Cairo needs to boost its military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea as it faces an unstable Libya to the west and threats from militants linked to Islamic State group in its Sinai Peninsula to the east, and to protect commercial shipping in the Suez Canal.
With the recent decision to buy the two “Mistral” class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) amphibious assault ships from France that were originally built for Russia, the Egyptian military obtains a bundle of completely new naval capabilities, which would help Egypt gain increasing political influence in the region. The two LHDs were ordered by Moscow, based on a €1.2Bn (US$1.32Bn) contract, to “combine” the mission-proven design of the French Navy’s “Mistral” class LHDs with “a good percentage of shipboard sensors and weapons of Russian origin”, officials in Moscow said. However, their delivery was postponed in 2015 following the annexation of Crimea by Moscow in March 2014.
The reality is that Cairo’s decision to obtain the two LHDs from France is a genuine success story. The Egyptian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that without these modern amphibious projection and command ships, plans for Egyptian naval infantry and supporting aviation would have little relevance, particularly as the Egyptian Navy has no comparable amphibious projection platforms, except 13 ex-Soviet Navy Landing Craft, Utility (LCUs) and three ex-Polish Navy Landing Craft, Tank (LCTs). While nations with a history of naval expeditionary warfare such as France and the United Kingdom (UK) began investing in these capabilities several decades ago, the range of new threats arising from developments in the Mediterranean and adjacent regions in the Middle East have stirred other countries in the region – like Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – to consider how to deal with the new generation of amphibious assault ships. Egypt is exactly on the perceived front line of these new threats.

Gathering New Abilities

The “Mistral” class LHDs now on delivery to Egypt offer a radical capability increase to the Egyptian Navy. The el-Sisi government gave ‘green light’ to the approximately €950M (US$1.1Bn) deal in September, arguing that this is a “clear effort to join the [new] partner [in Paris] at a time when both nations are drastically increasing military ties” and “preparing for new responsibilities in the unstable [Eastern Mediterranean] region”. One result of this development is France’s radical path to sell defence materiel worth many billions of Euros to Cairo, including, besides the two LHDs, up to 24 RAFALE fighter jets whose combat capabilities have been proven in Afghanistan, Libya, and Mali, C-295 transports, a single FREMM multi-mission frigate, and missiles. The contract for the supply of the RAFALE fighters and the FREMM frigate “Normandie”, worth some €5.44Bn (US$6Bn), was signed on 16 February 2015. Although her full-length A70 Vertical Launch System (VLS) for accommodating SCALP Naval land-attack cruise missiles has been removed before delivery, the ship will significantly enhance the Egyptian Navy’s capabilities mainly in the fields of medium-range air defence (by using ASTER 15 missiles), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW). Additionally, the government in Cairo found France’s GOWIND 2500 multipurpose corvette equipped with DCNS’ SETIS Combat Management System (CMS), MBDA’s VL MICA air defence system, and THALES Nederland’s SMART-S Mk2 surveillance and target designation radar an attractive option to bring extra capabilities. This is a game changer for France’s defence industry. According to security circles in Paris, this contract could be expanded in the near future covering additional fighter aircraft, air defence systems, artillery systems, and small arms. French officials estimate that €12.6Bn (US$13.88Bn) will be spent on new equipment between 2016 and 2023.

Probably More

This figure is also a game changer for Russia. With the abortion of the “Mistral” deal with Paris and the loss of the two new power projection assets, Moscow might not be completely wrong that Egypt would be in favour of Russian rotary-wing aircraft that can be operated from the two LHDs. In September 2015, the government in Cairo ordered 50 Kamov Ka-52K Katran attack helicopters for delivery between 2016 and 2019. As in the case with France, Russian manufacturers have to go where the market is, offer competitive products, and hope their government will support them when needed.
According to France’s shipbuilder DCNS, up to 30 helicopters can be operated from the ships while deploying landing craft and amphibious vehicles from the stern well deck. Now on order from Russian Helicopters, the Ka-52K attack helicopters, which were specially developed to operate from the LHDs, will be able to support naval infantry landings with precision strike and enemy observation. It was reported that a prototype was completed for trials in 2014. Modified with folding rotor blades, fuselage structural reinforcement, and anti-corrosion applications, the Ka-52K provides an anti-ship missile guidance capability useful against small- to medium-sized surface threat estimations, such as missile-armed fast attack craft (FAC) and patrol boats with limited defensive surface-to-air capability. It was reported that the Ka-52Ks to be delivered to Egypt will be equipped with the new ECO-52 electro-optic (EO) sensor turrets manufactured by Russia’s Research and Production Corporation Precision Instrumentation Systems company.

Deliveries of 50 Ka-52K attack helicopters to Egypt will be completed in 2019.
(Photo: Courtesy of Russian Helicopters)

Broken Ties

Before the end of 2014, observers noted that increasing military cooperation between France and Egypt could lead to a “defence-industrial strategy” for decades, whereby Egypt’s relationship to the United States would be “easily dismantled”. One thing is clear: Cairo, since about the early 1990s, maintained close military ties with Washington. Before the Obama Administration suspended the F-16C/D Block 50/52 (Peace Vector VII) deal with Egypt in 2014, following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, the popularly elected leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, this is exemplified by the Fast Missile Craft (FMC) project. Built by US-registered VT Halter Marine (VTHM), the four AMBASSADOR MkIII missile craft delivered to Egypt were armed with the standard in US naval weapons, mirroring the close military ties between the United States and Egypt over decades. Now, the delivery of mainly French-originated hardware, including the two “Mistral” class LHDs, is about to break the US monopoly over arms sales to Egypt.
The four missile craft that joined the Egyptian Navy in 2013 and 2014 were managed by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) case, with over US$805M spent by the US government. With the US refusing to allow defence equipment like F-16 fighter aircraft to be transferred to Cairo, there were fears that the delivery of the missile craft could also be delayed or even aborted. It was reported that Cairo needs the missile craft to improve security of territorial waters in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and to protect commercial shipping in the Suez Canal. Robert Camp, VTHM’s Director Government Projects, told NAVAL FORCES that the FMC does have the technologies to fit into this scheme. “The approximately 780 tons [full displacement] boats will allow the Republic of Egypt to maintain security of its coastal regions for both itself and friendly countries, while denying access to the areas by any potential adversary”, he said.
By Stefan Nitschke

Camcopter Trials in South Africa

VTOL Drone Showed Off its Potential

The South African Navy undertook shipboard trials of Schiebel's CAMCOPTER S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) in October.

The CAMCOPTER S-100 extends the electronic eyes and ears of maritime commanders to operational ranges well beyond those of the shipboard sensors.
(Photo: Courtesy of Schiebel Group)
The S-100 conducted all flights from the deck of the deep ocean hydrographic survey ship SAS “Protea” (A 324). During the trials, the payload of choice was the SELEX ES SAGE Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system, rendering the air vehicle capable of detecting, identifying, and geo-locating radio frequency (RF) sources. This system routinely operates out to range of 200km (108nm) or remains on station for periods of more than six hours.

Finland to Start its Squadron 2000 Project

Project Calls for Four Multi-Purpose OPVs

The Finnish Navy has begun its Laivue 2000 (Squadron 2000) programme to build a new class of four multi-purpose Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs).

The Squadron 2000 programme calls for a 90-100m long ship with a full displacement of up to 2,500 tons.
(Photo: Courtesy of Finnish MoD)

The new ships will replace the service’s four “Rauma” class Fast Attack Craft (FAC) and two of its “Hämeenmaa” class minelayers around 2022/2024, according to the Finnish Ministry of Defence (MoD). As the life cycle of the six vessels to be replaced by the new class cannot be extended in a cost-efficient way, the Finnish Navy needs a capable platform able to be deployed to “monitor maritime areas above and under the water surface”, using “capable weapons” to counter potential threats by enemy forces, the MoD said. The project planning phase is expected to be completed in 2018, with the construction phase estimated to be initiated in 2019. The four new ships will cost an approximately €1.2Bn (US$1.318Bn).

Friday, 9 October 2015


OSI Gains Contracts in Indian Ocean Region  

The combined display of OSI Maritime Systems and IHS at Pacific 2015.
(Photo: Mitchell Sutton)
Navigation, command and control (C2), and tactical systems provider OSI Maritime Systems is maintaining its involvement in the Indian Ocean region with a varied series of new tenders and contracts.
The Australian market is currently proving to be a lucrative one for the firm. According company sources, OSI will soon install its Tactical Asset and Control Tracking (T-ACT) C2 system in the Royal Australian Navy’s new, NAVANTIA-built, LCM-1E landing craft. The T-ACT system allows small-craft and helicopters to view each other’s positions in real time, and for information from multiple sensors to be woven into a single tactical picture for mission coordinators. It is already in service with the Royal Canadian Navy and UK Police.
OSI is also providing additional systems to the two "Canberra" class LHDs, as the first of class (HMAS "Canberra") works up into full operational capacity. The company plans to integrate the Ship Helicopter Operating Limits (SHOL) module into the vessel’s existing ECPINS integrated navigation and tactical system, which it had earlier installed. This upgrade is designed to expedite the takeoff, landing and control of the ADF’s MH-60R and S-70B-2 SEAHWAKs, MRH90 TAIPAN, CH-47 CHINOOK, S-70 BLACKHAWK, and TIGER ARH helicopters from the new platform. According to the company, it is also making a contribution to the tranche of proposed upgrades to the "Collins" class Submarine, through updates to its existing ECPINS Submarine navigation system.
Other countries in the Indian Ocean region have also recently engaged the company in new contracts. In 2013, Malaysia awarded OSI a contract to provide its six future Second Generation Patrol Vessel-Littoral Combat Ships (SGPV-LCS), based on the DCNS Gowind 2500 corvette design, with the Integrated Navigation and Tactical System (INTS) bridge system and ECPINS Warship integrated navigation and tactical system; the latter is outfitted with the Warship Automatic Identification System (W-AIS) module. Installation work is likely to begin in the near future, with production beginning at Boustead Naval Shipyard in June 2015 for an expected 2019 entry into service for the first of class.
Another market which has proven valuable to OSI in 2015 has been South Africa. In February this year, OSI signed a contract with the South African Navy to install its T-ACT system onto rigid hulled semi-inflatables (RHIBs). No indication has yet been given by the company on the status of this project.
By Mitchell Sutton


Saab Sees Potential in Australian Naval Expansion

Saab Australia is already registering its interest, as both a Combat Management Systems (CMS) supplier and integrator, in the Royal Australian Navy’s SEA5000 (Future Frigate), SEA1180 (Future Multi-Role Offshore Combatant Vessel), and SEA1654 Phase 3 (Replacement Supply Vessel and Fleet Oiler) projects. 
(Photo: Mitchell Sutoon)
Saab Group subsidiary Saab Australia has expanded its attempts in 2015 to dominate the regional combat management systems market, as it seeks to capitalise on the upcoming wave of platform acquisitions by the Royal Australian Navy. The company is also attempting to market its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV) products to Australia, both as an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability and as Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) training aids. These can be added to the list of Royal Australian Navy contracts already acquired by Saab. This includes upgrades to the Platform Management System (PMS) on the "Collins" class submarine, which is to be delivered in late 2015 or early 2016; and the provision and installation of combat systems for Australia’s two new LHDs, for which trials are currently being conducted on the second vessel of the class for acceptance in October or November 2015.
The company’s plans for these future tenders are at very different stages, as the maturity of the projects is not consistent. Saab’s submission for SEA5000 is relatively settled, with the company planning to offer and integrate a version of its existing 9LV CMS, already in use in the ANZAC frigates and "Canberra" class LHDs. The 9LV would be coupled with a radar system developed by local company CEA Technologies, as occurred under the recent SEA1448 Phase 2B (Anti-Ship Missile Defence) upgrade to the ANZACs. The situation is more complicated with SEA1180, due to the project’s immaturity. Whilst Saab is still to determine which combat system it will tender, its offering will have to accommodate the Royal Australian Navy's decision not to place dedicated Combat Systems and Electric Warfare (EW) Operators on its previous patrol boats. SEA1654 Ph.3 is at a slightly more advanced stage, with the company providing responses on the topic to shortlisted shipbuilders NAVANTIA and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). 
According to Saab, there is also potential in the future for international cooperation with Saab Australia’s parent company in Sweden. The current mid-life upgrades of the Swedish Navy’s "Gotland" class submarines will potentially contribute knowledge and expertise towards any future life extension of the Royal Australian Navy’s own "Collins" class, as the two designs are related.
Unmanned systems are another area in which Saab sees major potential in the Australian naval market. The Navy has found itself falling behind similar sized navies in the integration of UAVs and USV into its surface and submarine fleets, something which it is keen to rectify. Accordingly, Saab has attempted to enter the Australian market as both a systems integrator and equipment provider. The main products in this space which are being promoted by the company are the SKELDAR UAV, which it claims has already attracted official interest in Australia, and the BONEFISH USV trimaran. Training is another area which the company is attempting to offer solutions, with its AUV-62 autonomous underwater target likely to be officially proposed to Australia in 2016. The AUV-62 is claimed to provide large cost savings in ASW training, with the drone emulating the signatures of a full-sized submarine.
By Mitchell Sutton


Wärtsilä Marine Solutions Presents its Wares at Pacific 2015

SYDNEY / 9 October 2015 - Finland-based propulsion and power systems supplier Wärtsilä Marine Solutions have given an outline of their latest marine shaft-line and engine technology at the PACIFIC 2015 Expo, as well as hinting at interest in upcoming Royal Australian Navy projects. The latest developments for the company’s marine shaft-line business are the new composite steel housings for PSC or water lubricated seals, as well as 1200 WCS01 material, which is a composite bearing material for shaft lines. In the area of marine engines, Wärtsilä has continued to invest in developing its range of engines with a lower kilowatt output for smaller vessels. The selling the upgraded version of the venerable 580kW/cyl Wärtsilä  32, which entered the market in 2010, continues to remain a priority. Whilst remaining tight-lipped about future contracts, the company did express an interest in unnamed Royal Australian Navy projects. The most likely candidates for Wärtsilä tenders would be SEA5000 (Future Frigate), SEA1180 (Modular Offshore Combatant Vessel), and SEA1654 Phase 3 (Future Supply Vessel).
By Mitchell Sutton

Thursday, 8 October 2015


Babcock Steers Steady, With an Eye to the Future

Australia has become a large market for Babcock International Group.
(Photo: Mitchell Sutton)
Britain-based engineering support and naval contractor Babcock International Group has given a status update at the PACIFIC 2015 Expo on a number of surface and submarine contracts, which it is currently engaged in across Britain’s traditional defence export markets.
Despite recent international expansions, the majority of the company’s larger naval projects are focussed on Britain. Current major projects undertaken in the UK include: Babcock’s assembling of the Royal Navy’s "Queen Elizabeth" class aircraft carriers at its Rosyth yard; the provision of weapons handling and launch systems, actuators, and positioning sensing arrays for the "Astute" class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs); life extension work for the Type 23 ("Duke" class) frigates; and, the Long Overhaul Period (Refuel) - LOP(R) - maintenance of the "Vanguard" class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). According to Babcock, work on the second "Queen Elizabeth" class carrier, the HMS "Prince of Wales" (R 09), is four months ahead of schedules, whilst the first-of-class, HMS "Queen Elizabeth" (R 08), is undergoing final integration and fitting. Strong interest has also been shown by the company in a number of future Royal Navy projects, including the "Successor" class SSBN (for which Babcock is currently producing designs), and Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS). According to the company, work is also progressing on its contracts elsewhere in the world.
Australia has become a large market for Babcock, with the company currently in negotiations with the Commonwealth government, Saab, and BAE Systems to produce a closer alliance for maintenance of the Royal Australian Navy’s eight ANZAC frigates. There is also strong interest in contracts potentially emerging from the SEA5000 (Future Frigate) and SEA1180 (Future Modular Offshore Combatant Vessel). 
Babcock has also been active in other regions of Oceania. In May 2015, it renewed a $NZ300M contract to maintain the entire Royal New Zealand Navy for the next seven years, transitioning to a new programme management arrangement. This fleet currently comprises of two ANZAC frigates, two support vessels, two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), four patrol vessels, and a diving support vessel.
By Mitchell Sutton

Work has also continued in Canada, where Babcock is in the process of providing support and maintenance for the Royal Canadian Navy’s malfunction-prone "Victoria" class diesel-electric submarines (SSKs) as part of a five year contract which it won in 2013. This proceeded to the point where the Royal Canadian Navy was recently able to send three of the four vessels to sea at the same time.
(Photo: Royal Canadian Navy)


Willard Approaches New Markets

The joint display of Willard Marine, Ullman Dynamics, and Wing Inflatables at Pacific 2015.
(Photo: Mitchell Sutton)
SYDNEY / 7 October 2015 - Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) producer Willard Marine Inc. has continued to expand its product line and customer base, as it moves to capture new clients internationally and augment its traditional military sales. Willard has historically focussed on producing Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) for domestic customers in the United States, such as the US Navy and US Coast Guard, and on a limited international basis through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. As demonstrated by its presence at the PACIFIC 2015 Expo in Sydney, the boatbuilder has turned to selling directly to international clients, which now include military and law enforcement agencies in the Ukraine, Nepal, the Philippines, and yet unnamed countries in the Middle East. Opportunities for future sales are also being discussed in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan.
As well as new clients, Willard also appears to be diversifying its product line. According to the company, investment has been made in new aluminium boat designs, such as its 8.7m Riverine search-and-rescue (SAR) boat, 10m DAUNTLESS 30 boarding craft, and 8.5m Hydrographic Survey Launch. It has also recently attempted to expand its reach into the international law enforcement market, producing specialised police and SAR vessels including its 12.5m Open Ocean Fast Response design and the 9m and 10.3m aluminium patrol boats which the company sold to the Philippines National Police Maritime Group in late 2015. Change is also afoot in the military RIB market, with Willard’s clients shifting their purchases to larger vessels in the 11m to 18m range, for use as soldier rescue vessels and assault boats.
By Mitchell Sutton

(Ed.:) At PACIFIC 2015, Willard Marine unveiled its new SEA FORCE 777 RHIB. According to the boatbilder, this is a military-grade, fibreglass RHIB designed with a deep-V hull for maximum stability in the roughest sea conditions. The platform has a Steyr SE306J38 diesel engine with ZF 63 marine gear powering a HamiltonJet HJ-274 drive. The latter delivers 300hp to achieve a maximum speed of 32 knots. Additionally, the RHIB is equipped with nine Ullman Dynamics shock-mitigating seats that are installed for crew comfort and safety. The SEA FORCE RHIB is an "exceptionally durable vessel", which is necessary abroad to support a variety of 'Blue Water' missions, including rescue, patrol, and Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS).

International military representatives can now rely upon the new 777 the same way the US Navy has relied upon similar shipboard RHIBs from Willard Marine over the last 25 years.
(Photo: Willard Marine)
Willard Marine's President and CEO Ulrich Gottschling explained that “Willard Marine has built hundreds of mission-proven boats for American and international militaries around the world, and the new SEA FORCE 777 is a larger version of our military-grade RHIBs that government agencies can depend upon the same way the US Navy has for 25 years.”

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

MAST Europe 2016 Announcement

Exclusive Briefing

Get the Inside Track on Royal Netherlands Navy Programmes

MAST supporters (and invited VIPs from foreign embassies in the Netherlands) will be given an exclusive audience with representatives of the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNlN) and the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) in The Hague on Tuesday, 27 October 2015.
The afternoon meeting and reception, organised in conjunction with NIDV and TNO, is completely free-of-charge, and will give attendees an open forum to discuss the opportunities which the anticipated submarines, frigates, MCMs programmes could present for their business.

Starting at 1300hrs, the event programme will include:

Welcome and introductions from MAST Europe 2016 Chairman, Commander (ret.) Andre van Koningsbrugge

“Future Royal Netherlands Navy, joint naval, and air operations and requirements” (working title) – Captain Jaco de Bruin, RNlN

“Proposed procurement programmes and approximate timeframes” (working title) – Captain Eugene Pel, DMO/MoD

Introduction of MAST concept and visitor/delegate profile, opportunities for sponsors/exhibitors; VIP Invitations – Warren Edge, MAST CEO

Drinks reception
(running times to be confirmed)

Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Reserve your place now.
To reserve your place(s) at this exclusive event (and for venue information), RSVP to your MAST contact IMMEDIATELY - either pearl.donvin@mastconfex.org or cecile.delyfer@mastconfex.org
Registrations will not be be accepted after Wednesday, 21 October 2015.


DSME Naval Exports Continue

SYDNEY / 6 October 2015 - South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) has continued its sales to the world naval market into late 2015, with progress ongoing with its tenders in Australia, and orders in Malaysia and Britain.
According to the company, DSME is in the process of tendering for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) SEA5000 (future frigate) and SEA1654 Phase 3 (replacement supply vessel and oiler) projects. For SEA500, DSME has proposed a design derived from its earlier KDX-2 and KDX-3 destroyers, currently in service with the Republic of Korea Navy. For SEA1654, the shipbuilder is likely to propose a customised version of the "Tide" class Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) vessels which it is currently constructing for Britain’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). SEA5000, also known as the Future Frigate, is the RAN’s plan to replace its aging fleet of eight multi-purpose ANZAC frigates (based on a modified ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems MEKO 200 design) with a similar number of new vessels.

South Korea's DSME is building four double-hulled oilers, using BMT's AEGIR family design, for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
(Photo: BMT Defence Services)
Whilst the exact requirements are yet to be finalised, government sources have stated that it will ideally feature modular mission payloads and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capability, with a strong emphasis on Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). Strong domestic political pressure on the Australian government means that it is very likely to be constructed at state-owned shipbuilder ASC’s facility in Adelaide, though it is possible that some work will take place elsewhere. By contrast, SEA1654 is to be constructed almost wholly offshore, with NAVANTIA also on the project shortlist.
DSME states that work is at a more advanced stage in Malaysia, which ordered six 1,800 tons Missile Surface Corvettes from the shipbuilder in November 2014. The project is currently awaiting Malaysian government authorisation to make the contract effective, with work expected to begin in South Korea from 2018. Construction is also continuing in this country on the RFA’s 2012 order of four 37,000 tons "Tide" class Fast Fleet Tankers. The first of these was floated in March 2015, with a naming ceremony to be held in the near future.
By Mitchell Sutton

Monday, 14 September 2015

DSEi 2015 P r e v i e w

Setting Standards, Becoming Excellence

Fr. Lürssen’s Role in Addressing Global Needs

London, 14 September 2015 - Around the world, naval fleets have turned to Fr. Lürssen Werft in Germany to help them meet their demanding requirements in monitoring and securing the world’s oceans. 

The patrol vessel KDB “Darulaman” (08), third-in-the class of four 80m OPVs Fr. Lürssen Werft built for the Royal Brunei Navy, is seen here entering Sydney Harbour as part of the warship fleet at the Royal Australian Navy International Fleet Review 2013. Note Terma’s SCANTER 4100 2D surface/air search radar, THALES Nederland’s STING EO Mk2 fire control radar, and BAE Systems Bofors’ 57mm gun mounted on the foredeck ready for action at a moment’s notice.
(Photo: Courtesy of Royal Australian Navy)

Naval Shipbuilding at its Best

Fr. Lürssen Werft designs and builds a wide range of naval vessels – fast patrol boats, Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) and frigate-sized combatants. Providing high-performance, high-reliability platforms is the philosophy the shipyard developed over decades. The design found in products like the PV 80 or PV 85 patrol ships is able to cope with the growing demand for multimission-capable surface assets capable of supporting the agile development of defence capabilities. This is mainly in response to rapidly changing operational requirements as can be found across the whole of Southeast Asia. When the PV 80 design was down-selected by the Government of the Sultanate of Brunei, it was expected that the platform will replace some of the Royal Brunei Navy’s older assets, and successfully compete with other designs like the three “Nakhoda Ragam” class corvettes originally built for Brunei. At the end, the Sultanate rejected the delivery of the latter, stating that the newly selected PV 80 design will be able to better cope with completely new challenges, e.g. developing strategic partnerships with other Navies in the region and cooperating in the combat of smuggling and terrorism.
Fr. Lürssen Werft delivered them – in two batches – in 2011 and 2014. Now in full-scale deployments, the vessels are described as a “completely new capability” of the Royal Brunei Navy. The shipyard has a long history of involvement, at various levels, in shipbuilding projects of other Navies and law enforcement agencies in Southeast Asia. This ranges from the supply of complete vessels, design, construction documents, know-how, and technology transfer to logistics and through-life support. This scheme also includes the supply of material packages, training, and cooperation with local shipbuilders.
The portfolio of OPVs, fast patrol boats, and minehunter designs Fr. Lürssen Werft showcases at DSEi 2015 in London is not surprising. The shipyard is described by many observers as a well-proven, traditional partner of a number of the world’s naval fleets, including the Turkish Naval Force and the German Navy.
Exemplifying Turkey as one of the shipbuilder’s main customers, it had received a total of seven contracts; six of which called for the local construction and delivery of 10 “Doğan” class missile Fast Attack Craft or FAC (Lürssen FPB57 design), three “Kiliç” class (Lürssen FPB57-052 B) missile FAC, and six “Tufan” class (Lürssen FPB 57-052 Mod) fast patrol boats. The latter is also known as the KILIÇ-II programme which included the licence-production of five units at Istanbul Naval Shipyard.
The German Navy’s new flagship, the 7,300 tons (full displacement) Type F125 frigate “Baden-Württemberg” (F 222), is to prove to the world’s naval community their inherent expertise in naval shipbuilding Fr. Lürssen has developed over the past decades. German Navy officials said at the christening ceremony of her sister ship, “Nordrhein-Westfalen” (F 223), in Hamburg on 16 April 2015 that the shipbuilding expertise found in this new class of surface warships marks another major milestone towards the strategic partnership between Fr. Lürssen Werft and the German customer. Fr. Lürssen Werft, part of the ARGE F125 consortium, not only delivered a new ship but also a vision of what quality and performance can mean in today’s naval shipbuilding.
Today, a little over a third of the shipbuilder’s workload is still for the German Navy, however. But this reputation forms the company’s ‘key’ for addressing worldwide demands for sophisticated surface ships.

Reaching New Heights

Founded by Friedrich Lürßen in 1875, the shipyard achieved a number of major milestone throughout its history, mainly in commercial shipbuilding: building the first motorboat in 1886; designing record-breaking speedboats shortly before WWI (upon which Fr. Lürssen earned a reputation for performance); delivery of the first large yacht “Oheka II” in 1927 (that set the standards for large yachts); manufacturing of racing and pleasure boats in the 1920s and 1930s; launching of the first superyacht in 1971 (which is now seen as a precursor of the modern Lürssen yachts). The Lürßen family continues to be dedicated to the defining principle of “leading in quality and performance”. The founding philosophy is purely the ‘blueprint’ for how Fr. Lürssen Werft is recognised today on a worldwide scale. “We always try to be at the forefront of technology, methods of production, and quality”, said the company.
Spanning a history of 140 years, no other shipbuilder in the world owns this magnificent heritage. Also a technology leader in integrated logistics support (including system documentation, spare part management and supply, and repair, refits, and upgrades) and consultancy, Fr. Lürssen, which now has several manufacturing locations across northern Germany, is always eager to be at least two steps ahead of others, offering best practice to its commercial and military customers.

Building a Strong Presence Abroad

It cannot be ignored that ‘globalisation’ plays a key role in Fr. Lürssen’s vision to address new markets. Because they are forever-changing places, Fr. Lürssen’s leadership knows that it will have to adapt to the ever-changing requirements of naval fleets, Coast Guards, and law enforcement organisations in the future. In recognition of the increased shipbuilding needs and procurement activities across Asia, the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, and in parts of the African continent, Fr. Lürssen Werft has decided to step up their presence with the setting up of Lürssen Marine Technology Pte. Ltd. (LMT) in Singapore. The organisation now serves customers in these regions. Fr. Lürssen also established an experienced design team under the name of Lürssen Design Centre Asia Sdn. Bhd. (LDCA). Both these organisations will aim to meet the demand for paramilitary and law enforcement vessels to be built in Asia. This trend also goes in line with the development of new patrol craft designs like the Interceptor FIB 25 design. It can be more effectively deployed for surveillance, interdiction, patrol, and policing duties in coastal and territorial waters than larger and more costly frigate-sized combatants.
For the MENA region in particular, Brigadier Dr. (Eng) Thani A. Al-Kuwari, Assistant Chief of Staff for Financial Affairs, Qatar Armed Forces, expects a strong growth of the naval market, with the regional new-construction ship market valued at US$45Bn. This is led by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). All of these countries have important shipbuilding plans on the table.
A premier example in Asia, Brunei, certainly mirrors the region’s ‘fast run’ for new-build platforms that display inherently improved performance and multimission characteristics. With the induction of four 80m vessels of the PV 80 design, the Royal Brunei Navy can now position itself as a capable force, fulfilling its steadily increasing obligations in the Sultanate’s coastal waters. Adding to the capability of the four “Ijtihad” class (Type FPB 41) patrol boats also built by Fr. Lürssen Werft, and delivered to the service in 2009 and 2010, they considerably enhanced its operational capabilities, and provide the fleet with a significant enforcement capacity.
Brunei’s Defence White Paper of 2011 cited the importance of securing the nation’s part of the South China Sea. The “Darussalam” class OPVs form exactly that part of a more capable force, which is needed to defend Brunei’s souvereignty and territorial integrity. The Royal Brunei Navy’s Chief, First Admiral Halim, stated in an interview with NAVAL FORCES in 2014 that the “Darussalam” class allows the service to deploy at far greater distances, including the Philippine Sea, eastern Indian Ocean, and the South Pacific Ocean. “...their versatility was emphasised in the tragic wake of Typhoon Haiyan that struck the Philippines. We deployed two of our “Darussalam” units to provide Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief [HA/DR]”, the Admiral said.
The fourth PV 80 unit, KDB “Daruttaqwa” (09), recently visited Singapore and participated in the biannual IMDEX Asia 2015 maritime defence exhibition. The 80m long patrol ship was received on 13 May 2014. Like her three PV 80 sisters, she was ordered by the Government of Brunei after rejecting the initial three “Nakhoda Ragam” class corvettes built by BAE Systems.

Strategic Issues Influence Naval Ship Offerings

Strategic aspects face the whole of Southeast Asia. They become an issue for shipbuilders like Fr. Lürssen Werft in their efforts to promote mission-oriented surface ship designs. Innovations in naval ship design and construction will arguably help certain customers outline their naval doctrine. According to Admiral Halim, no maritime sector is currently attracting as much attention as Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) and Maritime Security, requiring “new ships and capabilities to defend against the spectrum of new threats”. Brunei’s Defence White Paper notes that  the new assets received by the Sultanate’s Navy are also capable of monitoring much larger powers, like China or India, acting in hydrocarbon-rich areas close to Brunei’s territorial waters. The White Paper re-affirmed that the main function of the Government was to defend the country, although it stated that the threats were no longer conventional but less traditional security problems like smuggling or terrorism.
All the nations in the region have strong motivations to invest in MSA and Maritime Security capabilities. This scheme also includes countries like Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, both of which do have a stronger commitment to MSA in littoral or coastal waters in the near future. Also, developing strong strategic partnerships with other naval forces in the region will be indispensable to combat smuggling, terrorism, and other illegal activities in parts of the South China Sea and Philippine Sea. For the small and slowly developing Navy of Papua New Guinea in particular, this means that achieving military presence in its littoral and EEZ waters not only requires the ability to fill in existing capability gaps (e.g. maritime surveillance), but also a high degree of interoperability with multinational force components. Therefore, analysts predict an increasing demand for small, agile, and multimission-capable surface assets in both these countries. It is important to note that Papua New Guinea is presently lacking any viable surface force for protecting its marine resources – hydrocarbons, minerals, wildlife. Territorial waters off Papua New Guinea are believed to host huge oil and gas resources, as well as base, precious, and strategic metals intimately associated with high-grade Seafloor Massive Sulfide (SMS) systems. They are in need of a certain level of protection.
By Stefan Nitschke

Monday, 7 September 2015

MSPO 2015

Wide Naval Offerings in Kielce

DCNS' GOWIND corvette.
ll photos: Robert Czulda
Although MSPO 2015 is not a naval defense exhibition (this role is played by BALTEXPO), several companies presented their maritime offers in Kielce. Robert Czulda reports from Kielce, Poland.
Remontowa Shipbuilding from Poland was among them. The most interesting element of its portfolio was news about an official launch (by flooding a dry dock) of the ORP "Kormoran" (CORMORANT) minehunter, built of low-magnetic steel. This event took the place during the final day of MSPO 2015 – on Friday, 4 September 2015. The significance of this event is underlined by the fact that the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, took part in the ceremony in Gdańsk. A reason for such pride is obvious – the last anti-mine vessel built in Poland was commissioned in 1994 (ORP WDYDZE – Project 207M Class). Initially it was planned that the Polish Navy would procure up to 14 Project 258 minehunters; however, due to delays and lack of funding the plan was revised. As a result, only three KORMORAN II class vessels were ordered. Construction of the next two units is planned to start in 2016, while deliveries are planned for 2019 and 2022. The Remontowa Shipbuilding confirmed that the ORP "Kormoran" will be armed with the remotely-controlled WRÓBEL (SPARROW) anti-aircraft system (based on ZU-23-2MR) and equipped with the indigenous (built by CTM from Gdynia) SCOT-M Battle Management System (BMS). This also integrates several other systems, including countering air, surface and underwater targets, combating asymmetric threats, technical observation, radars, communication and services provided by the integrated navigation system regarding ensuring the safety of navigation, and monitoring the current geographical position and ship motion.
In Kielce, BAE Systems presented a model of the 57 mm Bofors M3 naval artillery system, which is an offer for two new classes of surface vessels for both MCM and coastal patrol operations: three vessels of the "Czapla" (HERON) class; and three of the "Miecznik" (SWORDFISH) class. Presented in Kielce, the gun has a maximum range of 17,000m. Its firing rate is four shells per second, and a service life of a barrel is up to 5,300 firings. This gun could fire the 3P (Pre-fragmented, Programmable, Proximity-fused) all-target programmable ammunition.
Poland’s CTM from Gdynia presented two interesting products in Kielce. The TOCZEK is a remotely-detonated explosives for destroying sea mines. It comes in three versions: A and B are transported and positioned by remotely operated vehicles. Type C is transported and positioned by divers. All types are equipped with universal acoustic fuses. Types vary in size, total weight, and the weight of an explosive charge (respectively 40kg, 5.7kg and 0.6kg). Its maximum operational depth is 120m. TOCZKA can operate in a temperature between -100C and +400C. A firing distance is up to 1,000m. A detonation is triggered wirelessly through coded hydroacoustic signals. Another product in CTM’s portfolio was the MLM (Modular Lightweight Minesweep).
Several maritime systems were also presented by Saab, who has been very active in Poland. Saab presented the Double Eagle Sarov, which can be operated both as a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and as an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV); the DOUBLE EAGLE MkII mine disposal vehicle; the SUBROV (Submarine Remotely Operated Vehicle, which can be deployed from a submarine and can be used for inspection and surveillance, in mine countermeasures or recovery operations; and the AUV62-MR mine countermeasure vehicle.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Deep Treasure

How we Plan to Extract Minerals from the Seafloor

As we move into an era of mining the deep-ocean floor, new and innovative technology developments are helping to drive forward this new industry.

The SMT vehicle will be driven by two pilots from a control rook on the surface ship above, attached via a giant power cable. (All maps/photos: Nautilus Minerals Inc.)

Balancing Humanity’s Need for Valuable Commodities

THERE is much concern over the commercial use of deep seabed mineral resources like base and precious metals, as well as rare earth elements. European scientists recently announced that they would be studying the ecological effects of deep sea mining on the environment and organisms living on the seafloor. At a recent international seabed authority meeting in Kingston, Jamaica, scientists were calling for temporary halt on new deep sea mining projects. One of them, the Solwara 1 project located in the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea, is expected to commence operations in the first half of 2018.
The International Seabed Authority (ISA), the arm of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that governs mining in international waters, has already issued exploration permits to both national and private companies. “If we can take care of the environment, we have a brand new day ahead of us”, said Nii Odunton, Secretary General of ISA. In a policy paper published in Science on 9 July 2015, scientists want the ISA to hold off on issuing new permits until “a network of protected marine areas can be put in place”, potentially safeguarding an environment that we know very little about. Although the exact effects of long-term or extensive mining on the ocean floor remain unclear, the authors of the paper warn that “deep sea environments tend to recover very slowly when disturbed”, some so slowly that they likely “wouldn’t recover in a human’s lifetime, if ever.”
After Canadian-listed Nautilus Minerals Inc. released an Environmental and Social Benchmarking Report on its proposed Solwara 1 Project on 1 June 2015, Richard Steiner, Oasis Earth professor and conservation biologist, said: “Extremely little is known about the environmental goods and services of deep sea ecosystems in comparison to terrestrial ecosystems.” Civil society, non-government organisations, and scientists warn Nautilus shareholders not to pay the price of ignorance when it comes to investing in the Solwara 1 deep sea mining project. “Investors should be wary”, said Deep Sea Mining Campaign coordinator Dr. Helen Rosenbaum. She said that the benchmarking report demonstrates limited scientific understanding of the impacts of seabed mining and ignores the wide range of risks identified by comprehensive independent reviews of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Deep sea mining of the ocean floor is still very much in an early stage. The advantage of undersea mining is that there is potentially a lot of resources that is in need for high-tech devices. Recent reports found that the worldwide demand for base metals like copper continues to rise, with increasing global economic development, expanding renewable energy supplies (wind, hydro, wave geothermal, tidal power), and growing electronics and communications sectors. Recycling is likely limited to around 35% of the supply of copper. There is an urgent need to meet the world’s copper demand while reducing fresh water use and contamination, damaging impacts to communities, mine footprints, and CO2 emissions from copper mining.
According to industry sources, seafloor mining has the potential to minimise the impact of mining by producing more commodities with fewer natural capital inputs, fewer damaging outputs, and a smaller area of impact. Finally, the long-term mining liabilities for freshwater contamination, tailings, and overburden failures that can threaten downstream communities do not exist in new undersea ventures.

A Clear Vision

Mike Johnston, CEO of Nautilus Minerals: “Growing copper demand requires our industry to look at more sustainable ways to meet this demand. […] Seafloor mining has the potential to not only provide economic benefits within the communities nearest to the operations while minimizing the impact of copper mining, it also has the potential to change the physical nature of the mining industry for the better.”
(Photo: Nautilus Minerals Inc.)

Interest in deep seabed mineral resources catapulted in the past five years. Peter Jantzen, Head of Wärtsilä’s Marine Lifecycle Solutions (MLS), noted at the 3rd Annual Deep Sea Mining Summit 2015 in Aberdeen, Scotland, UK: “Deep sea mining is, together with shale fuel, the most interesting and ground-breaking growth industry in the next 25 years...” Several developed countries do have a clear vision of how to extract minerals from the seafloor. Britain already has an exploration licence in partnership with UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of defence company Lockheed Martin. The two main companies looking to mine the seabed – UK Seabed Resources and Nautilus Minerals Inc. – are not traditional mining firms, although, as per 31 March 2015, South Africa-listed Anglo American plc does have a 5.99% stake in the latter, in addition to Mawarid Mining LLC (28.14%), Metalloinvest Holding (Cyprus) Ltd. (20.89%), and Canada’s Teck Cominco (7.2%).
Using existing technologies from the offshore oil and gas, dredging, and mining industries, Nautilus plans to extract high-grade Seafloor Massive Sulfide (SMS) systems in territorial waters of Papua New Guinea on a commercial scale. Pre-2008 plans originally called for three undersea mining vehicles – STMs (Seafloor Mining Tools) from Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd. (SMD) – that will be remotely-operated to extract and collect minerals from the seabed, and a complete Seafloor Production System. In a binding agreement with Norway’s North Sea Shipping Holding A/S, it was also envisioned to operate a 160m long, 14,200 specialist Mining Support Vessel (MSV), with the hull fabrication done at the Turkish shipyard RMK Marine at Tuzla. The STMs were to be fitted with cameras from Kongsberg Maritime’s Aberdeen-based underwater camera group, as well as 3D sonar sensors. The construction of the latter was terminated on 13 November 2012, however, as a result of a dispute with the Independent State of Papua New Guinea over costs that Nautilus says the government is obliged to meet for the project.

The Solwara 1 Project is located in the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea, approximately 30km from the coast of the New Ireland Province and 50km north of the international port of Rabaul. Nautilus’ mineral tenement holdings also include 12 additional resources at a depth of around 1,700m declared as Solwara 2-13, one of which, Solwara 2, is located some 25km northeast of Solwara 1.

Seafloor Production System projected for the Solwara 1 Project.

In April 2015, Nautilus reached an agreement with the Papua New Guinea government that will allow the company’s Solwara 1 Project to proceed. The company has also been granted an environmental permit for this site. Under this agreement, the Papua New Guinea government took a 15% stake of the Solwara 1 Project, with the option for a further 15% stake. Papua New Guinea made an initial non-refundable payment of US$7M to Nautilus with the remainder of its share – US$113M – paid more recently into escrow.
“We believe that the proposed Solwara 1 Project will launch a new frontier in the ‘blue economy and resource sector’. As the first publicly-listed company in the world to commercially explore seafloor mining opportunities, Nautilus is committed to leading the way and setting a high bar for developing an environmentally and socially responsible approach for the industry”, said Nautilus’ CEO Mike Johnston. 
Nautilus’ vision is to be the world’s first company to explore the ocean floor for polymetallic SMS deposits. The company presently holds more than 500,000sq.km of exploration territory in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, and the eastern Pacific. In the Bismarck Sea to the north of Papua New Guinea, the Solwara 1 resource boasts a copper grade of approximately 7%. Looking at the ocean, there are very large deposits of SMS, copper, nickel, cobalt, and polymetallic nodules that are very high-grade compared with land-based deposits, according to Nautilus. Land-based copper mining operations typically feature copper grades of 0.6%. The resource delineated by Nautilus’ exploration team in 2007 and drilled in 2010/11, using ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) technology, contains a high-grade copper-gold resource averaging 7.2% copper, 5g/ton gold, 23g/ton silver, and 0.4% zinc, all of which contained in “a simple ore” that should produce a commercial grade copper concentrate with “low impurity levels and good recovery.” Preliminary metallurgical testing of a representative 1.2 tons drill core sample yielded chalcopyrite (an economically important copper ore) as the dominant ore constituent, in addition to minor bornite, chalcocite, covellite, tetrahedrite/tennantite, galena, sphalerite, pyrite, arsenopyrite, barite, anhydrite, and silicate minerals; all of which can be separated from chalcopyrite using standard flotation techniques. In November 2011, Nautilus also announced an inferred mineral resource of 1.540 million metric tons of material grading 8.1% copper, 6.4g/ton gold, 34g/ton silver, and 0.9% zinc. Gold grades of well over 20g/ton have also been reported in some of Solwara 1’s intercepts.

Sampling campaign undertaken at a depth of 1,600m in the Solwara 1 Project area.

The specialist MSV “Nautilus” used during the 2010-2011 exploration campaign.


According to Nautilus’ CEO Mike Johnston, most of the world’s best deposits lie even deeper than Solwara 1, at around 6,000m in an area known as the Clarion Clipperton Zone. Large numbers of manganese nodules, rich in copper, cobalt, and nickel, lie across this 4.5 million sq.km abyssal plain between Hawaii and Mexico. Also, Ocean Mineral Singapore Pte Ltd. (OMS) has entered into a 15-year exploration contract for polymetallic nodules at a site within the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone with ISA. The project will be sponsored by the Singapore government.
At the 3rd Annual Deep Sea Mining Summit 2015, industry representatives from Bosch Rexroth, Fugro, Kongsberg Maritime A/S (delivering underwater camera packages to major subsea service clients), Liquid Robotics, and Lockheed Martin claimed that the number of governments in the Asia-Pacific region interested in supporting international deep sea resource ventures is about to grow. With regard to the Solwara 1 Project, Nautilus entered into a Port Upgrade and Operations Deed with PNG Ports Corporation Ltd. (PNGPC) in October 2009 to provide the company with a secure right to port handling capacity at the Rabaul port for 1.5 million metric tons of ore per year for three years. Johnston noted: “We are talking to a lot of governments in the western Pacific – smaller nations which are interested in it because they do not have any other opportunities.”


It is not a secret that marine resources – hydrocarbons, minerals, wildlife – are in need of a certain level of protection. This is normally provided by Coast Guard organisations, but also the military is continuing to increase its presence in regions with high potential of critical commodities. Specific regions like the Arctic or the Western Pacific are coming into wider focus by many developed countries seeking those critical commodities. As to the Arctic, Russia is “taking certain political and military steps” to defend against activities undertaken by “some developed countries that don’t have direct access to the Polar regions”, said Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. “Military use of the seas also covers these [regions], with Russia considering protecting its national interests in the Arctic with military means if necessary”, he pointed out at a recent Ministry of Defence meeting. According to Shoigu, there is an increasing interest in the region’s resources by nations that have no direct access to the Arctic, so “the constant military presence in the Arctic and a possibility to protect the state’s interests by military means are regarded as an integral part of the general policy to guarantee national security.”
Moscow is deploying submarines to Polar regions, and is continuing to create modern military infrastructure on some of the New Siberian Islands – Novaya Zemlya, Frantz Josef Land Archipelago and Wrangel Island – all of which are located in the Arctic Ocean.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Unmanned Technology Boosts Mine Warfare Capabilities

UK Royal Navy Realises MHC Sweep Capability 

Launched and recovered from a “Hunt“ class MCMV, ARCIMS can be remotely-operated from shore with the minimum of support.
(Photo: ATLAS Elektronik UK)

Stefan Nitschke, Bonn (Germany) 29 July 2015 - The Royal Navy is addressing an autonomous minesweeping capability to defeat sea-mines whilst reducing risks to service personnel. ATLAS Elektronik UK (AEUK) has been selected by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to deliver a prototype Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV)-based minesweeping system under the first phase of the Royal Navy’s Mine Countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability (MHC) Sweep Capability project. It is intended to provide Britain’s Navy with an influence minesweeping capability, certainly filling in the gap left by acoustic and magnetic influence sweeps that were retired in 2005. They were described by industry sources as “obsolescent”.
The MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation laid out a requirement for a prime contractor to develop, manufacture, demonstrate, and support a USV-based multi-influence minesweeping capability in June 2014. The new system would be deployed from “Hunt” class mine countermeasures vessels (MCMVs).
On 6 March 2015, DE&S awarded AEUK to develop the USV-based minesweeping system, which, according to the company’s Managing Director Antoni Mazur, is another significant milestone for the company as it continues to expand its business. DE&S selected AEUK ahead of a rival bid from Ultra Electronics that was teaming with THALES UK and ASV. AEUK representatives told NAVAL FORCES at UDT 2015 in Rotterdam that its MHC Sweep Capability bid is based on the ARCIMS (Atlas Remote Capability Integrated Mission Suite) remote MCM system that will be able to detect and counter underwater mine threats, as well as detonating and neutralising them in a controlled manner.
The technology developed by AEUK will eliminate the risk to human life due to undersea mines. Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State for Defence Procurement, said: “It [...] represents an important development in the Royal Navy’s ability to exploit its international expertise in Maritime Minesweeping and to advance its capabilities in the emerging world of maritime autonomous systems.”
As noted in AEUK’s fact sheet, ARCIMS functions as a toolbox of capabilities for multi-influence minesweeping, mine hunting, and other operations. The company noted that it was developed as a private venture. The 11m long, glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) craft manufactured by ICE Marine will be able to conduct manned or fully autonomous mission module operations, including launch and recovery of off-board systems. The latter will be provided by Babcock, in addition to an operational training package and platform system integration. BAE Systems will integrate the system within its NAUTIS command system that is installed on all of the “Hunt” class MCMVs.
ARCIMS’ Sweep Mission Module is a fully-containerised package consisting of towed sweeps for acoustic, electric, and magnetic influences. The module is suitable for transportation by road, sea, and air. Also included in the package are launch-and-recovery arrangements, and a Reconnaissance Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Hangar (RUUVH), of which the latter will be installed on selected MCMVs.

Phased Development Process
According to the contract awarded by DE&S, development work by AEUK is split into three blocks:
Block 1, for which AEUK is now under contract, covering the design and construction of a prototype sweep system (followed by full acceptance and demonstration in a portable mode);
Block 2 envisaging the integration of the prototype sweep system into a “Hunt” class MCMV (followed by full acceptance testing and demonstration of the “Hunt”-based system); and
Block 3, encompassing the supply of follow-on systems to the same design. The latter also will incorporate any changes necessary to achieve full acceptance of the prototype.
AEUK said current planning assumes options for the manufacture of up to four USV-based minesweeping systems and RUUVHs.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Surpassing Furthest Milestone

Fr. Lürssen Werft Celebrates 140 Years of Global Shipbuilding Heritage

Sections of the Type F125 frigates are being constructed at different locations at the same time and later married together.
(Photo: Fr. Lürssen Werft)

Leading in Quality and Performance

The German Navy’s new flagship, the Type F125 frigate “Baden-Württemberg” (F 222), is to prove to the world’s naval community their inherent expertise in naval shipbuilding Fr. Lürssen Werft has developed over the past decades. German naval sources said at the christening ceremony of her sister ship, “Nordrhein-Westfalen” (F 223), in Hamburg on 16 April 2015 the shipbuilding expertise found in this new class of surface warships marks another major milestone towards the strategic partnership between Fr. Lürssen Werft and the German customer. Fr. Lürssen Werft, part of the ARGE F125 consortium, not only delivered a new ship but also a vision of what quality and performance can mean in today’s naval shipbuilding. Today, a little over a third of the shipbuilder’s workload is still for the German Navy. This reputation also forms the company’s ‘key’ for addressing worldwide demands for sophisticated surface ships.
It cannot be ignored that ‘globalisation’ plays a key role in Fr. Lürssen’s vision to address new markets The shipbuilder was exceptionally successful over the past several years in identifying new customers mainly in Asia: the Royal Brunei Navy is said to be a premier example, with the Government of Brunei having ordered four 80m Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) equipped with an assortment of the latest in shipboard automation systems, navigation aids, sensors, and weapons. Fr. Lürssen delivered them – in two batches – in 2011 and 2014 – the vessels are described as a “completely new capability” of the Royal Brunei Navy.
The company’s role as an innovator seems to be the prerequisite for continuing success in identifying new customers, both military and commercial. Military products like the PV 80 or PV 85 will cope with a growing demand for multimission-capable surface assets capable of supporting the agile development of defence capabilities in response to rapidly changing operational requirements.

The patrol vessel KDB “Darulaman” (08), third-in-the-class of four 80m OPVs Fr. Lürssen Werft built for the Royal Brunei Navy, is seen here entering Sydney Harbour as part of the warship fleet at the Royal Australian Navy International Fleet Review 2013.
(Photo: Saberwyn)
Founded by Friedrich Lürßen in 1875, the shipyard achieved a number of major milestone throughout its history: building the first motorboat in 1886; designing record-breaking speedboats shortly before WWI (upon which Fr. Lürssen earned a reputation for performance); delivery of the first large yacht “Oheka II” in 1927 (that set the standards for large yachts); manufacturing of racing and pleasure boats in the 1920s and 1930s; launching of the first superyacht in 1971 (which is now seen as a precursor of the modern Lürssen yachts) – to only name a few. The Lürßen family continues to be dedicated to the defining principle of “leading in quality and performance”. This founding philosophy is purely the ‘blueprint’ for how Fr. Lürssen is recognised today on a worldwide scale. “We always try to be at the forefront of technology, methods of production, and quality”, said the company.
Spanning a history of 140 years, no other shipbuilder in the world owns this magnificent heritage. Also a technology leader in integrated logistics support (including system documentation, spare part management and supply, and repair, refits, and upgrades) and consultancy, Fr. Lürssen, which now has several manufacturing locations across northern Germany, is always eager to be at least two steps ahead of others, offering best practice to its commercial and military customers. However, because the markets are forever-changing places, the shipyard’s leadership knows that it will have to adapt to the ever-changing requirements in the future.
Stefan Nitschke