The Australian Maritime College and international defence firm Thales Australia will team up at the University of Tasmania’s defence precinct to develop state-of-the-art sonar testing equipment for the Royal Australian Navy.
A Memorandum of Understanding for a Thales presence at the Maritime Defence Innovation and Design Precinct was signed by University of Tasmania Vice-Chancellor Professor Rufus Black and Thales Australia Chief Executive Officer Chris Jenkins in Sydney today.
Thales is the first defence industry prime to commit to the Precinct which aims to drive defence-related research and development projects in a world class research innovation hub.
The Precinct is designed to help the Australian Government deliver on its $90 billion Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise, including the $50 billion Future Submarine Program, by supporting the high value testing and evaluation needs of the RAN. The Australian Government has committed $30 million to Phase 1 of the Precinct.
AMC, Australia’s national institute for maritime education, training and research, has a suite of the Southern Hemisphere’s best maritime related research facilities which will enable critical design inputs into the building of 57 naval vessels over the next thirty years.
Professor Black said Tasmania was uniquely positioned to play an important role in the regeneration of Australia’s naval capabilities.
“Our relationship with Thales is based on a combination of the distinctive strengths of our people and our facilities and the nature of our island home itself,” he said.
“We have world-renowned expertise in maritime research and engineering, we have state-of-the-art facilities, and we have access to Tasmania’s incredible lakes, which are vital to our work with Thales.
“Our advantage lies not just in who we are and what we can do, but also where we are.”
Thales has a long involvement in Tasmania having undertaken sonar testing research in Tasmania’s deep, cold and acoustically quiet lakes since 1991.
The MOU comes on top of a 2018 Thales Australia, University of Tasmania, AMC and AMOG Consulting agreement aimed at making Tasmania the home of state-of-the-art trials and test facilities for submarine and surface ship sonar systems.
Thales Australia has a critical role in upgrading the sonar systems on the existing Collins Class submarines.
AMC Principal Michael van Balen AO said the MOU would help AMC in its aim to support the development of Australia’s sovereign shipbuilding capability.
“AMC and Thales’ involvement in the Precinct will make the niche capabilities and skillsets at the AMC available for both the Defence and industry,” he said.
“As a result, there will be a flowthrough of defence spending into the commercial realm in Tasmania while we contribute to the broader national defence endeavour.
“The Precinct will be a venue where contractors, Government agencies and disparate parties come together to conduct tests and look at the design issues they are facing, marking out the way forward for better design, more efficiency and greater safety.”
Mr Jenkins, CEO of Thales Australia, said: “We will be working with AMC and industry participants like AMOG Consulting on advanced acoustic measurements to be taken at a wide range of speeds, over a number of distances and with a high degree of precision using equipment designed with the expertise of the AMC.”
Pictured: University of Tasmania Vice-Chancellor Professor Rufus Black, Premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman and Chris Jenkins, CEO of Thales