Navy to acquire Ocius Bluebottle drones


The Royal Australian Navy has signed contracts to acquire five Bluebottle unmanned surface vessels (USVs) from Australian manufacturer Ocius.

In the last 15 months, five Bluebottles under a Defence Innovation Hub contract have already completed nearly 23,000 nautical miles at sea , the equivalent to around the world at the equator.

The deal to deliver the small surveillance drones this financial year was announced by Head of Navy Capability RADM Pete Quinn at a Christening ceremony following Ocius’s Annual General Meeting.

Quinn said: “Over five years as HNC it has been fantastic being involved with Ocius and seeing Australian technology at the forefront.

“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.”

Bluebottle is a self-sustaining marine platform running totally on energy available at sea.

Each vehicle is self-deploying and retrieving, can roam widely or stay on station for months to years in all weather conditions and has a large payload capacity for sensors and communications.

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

“To be a long-lasting Defence Prime we need two things – innovative products and people.”

Dane said the company was continually innovating its Bluebottles, iDrogue, Loyal Shipmate and other products in association with University of NSW academics and subcontractors.

The announcement was made during the christening of Hulls number eight BARRA and nine BOMBORA.

Earlier this year unmanned Bluebottle surveillance technology was used during Operation Resolute for the first time.

The seventh rotation of Army’s Regional Force Surveillance Group (RFSG) used Bluebottles to provide a 24/7 on-water surveillance capability.

During the two-week deployment in October, the contingent conducted surveillance and reconnaissance on and around remote islands off north Western Australia for foreign fishing vessels and evidence of illegal activities.

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Picture: Ocius

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