ECA Group and Total Marine Technology (TMT) are partnering for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) SEA 1905 Phase 1 Tranche 1 programme, the companies announced on 11 May.
The RAN’s SEA 1905 Maritime Mine Countermeasures (MCM) programme dates from April 2019 and is intended to replace the four remaining HUON-class minehunters. In January, the DoD also stated the new ships would be based on the ARAFURA-class offshore patrol vessel, which will deploy modular unmanned autonomous systems for mine-hunting and military survey capabilities. A request for tender is expected later this year and is well on track, according to Adm Michael Noonan, speaking for australiandefence.com.au, explaining that introduction of capability is expected in 2023/2024 and initial operating capability (IOC) in late 2024. He also revealed an approximate allocation of A$3.3-5 billion (€2.13-3.23 billion) for future mine warfare and hydrographic vessels.
The two companies both possess significant skills in marine robotics for harsh environments and are already in discussion with other potential Australian partners in an effort to offer Australia the most effective autonomous response possible.