SEA 2400 Strategic Military Survey Capabilityp>Project SEA 2400 Phase 1 (SEA 2400-1) Hydrographic Data Collection Capability seeks to replace and expand the existing Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Hydrographic Survey Capabilities. By understanding what lies beneath the water, hydrographers allow maritime units to navigate more confidently. The Project aims to do so through the introduction into service of a Strategic Military Survey Capability (SMSC), which will comprise a Survey Vessel Hydrographic Oceanographic and complementary systems. This ITR seeks to collect information relating to in-service designs or a modified variant of an in-service design along with complementary systems to provide a Strategic Military Survey Capability for the RAN.
The Project aims to do so through the introduction into service of a Strategic Military Survey Capability (SMSC), to meet the Military Survey Function for the RAN. An ITR is planned to be released in late 2017 to collect information on mature in-service designs suitable as a RAN Survey Vessel Hydrographic Oceanographic Vessel. Timeframe for Delivery is 2025.
Project SEA 2400 – Hydrographic Data Collection Capability includes the HydroScheme Industry Partnership Program (HIPP). The HIPP is a partnership with industry for delivery of the national hydrographic survey requirement to meet Defence's legislated responsibilities for the provision of hydrographic services within the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone. The HIPP was approved by the Australian Government in December 2019, with initial funding of approximately $150 million over five years from 2019-20. The first HIPP survey commenced in May 2020, and two hydrographic surveys are complete. The HIPP will have 12 hydrographic surveys under contract by December 2020 through the Program. COVID-19 travel restrictions have impacted the HIPP with additional survey areas being released to compensate and mitigate interstate mobilisation risk. As of September 2020, the majority of higher priority national hydrographic tasking is in the coastal waters off Australia’s North and North West.
In 2019, HMAS Melville first deployed three Slocum Gliders as part of the SEA 2400 trials to collect deep oceanographic data over a four-week survey period. In tune with 2020’s theme of autonomous technologies, Melville deployed the gliders again on World Hydrography Day. These gliders are piloted remotely from Western Australia by military and civilian personnel and can provide critical real-time data for planning purposes. Autonomous technology that can be launched locally, yet piloted remotely, is an invaluable tool in gleaning accurate information.
The value and recognition of seabed mapping has been rising, both internationally and in Australia, since the arrival of multibeam echosounder (MBES) technologies in the 1970s. This has been demonstrated recently by the large investments in programs such as Australia’s SEA 2400, led by the Department of Defence, and the international GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Seabed 2030 project.
Australia has sovereign rights over the seabed of the world’s third largest Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) spanning around 10.2 million km2 of the Indian, Pacific and Southern oceans. Australia also has specific obligations under several international conventions1 to ensure the safety of navigation over another estimated 40 million km2 of these oceans (Australian Charting Area [ACA]. A better understanding of Australia’s seafloor topography (bathymetry) and its composition is required to fulfil this obligation, and to the broader needs of the maritime community.
Despite a significant increase in the global bathymetry coverage in the past decade, less than 25 per cent of Australia's marine jurisdiction has been mapped at high resolution resulting in much of the existing coverage of the seafloor providing only a general indication of depth. Additionally, there are substantial gaps in knowledge of the seafloor characteristics, such as the sediment type, geology, and benthic habitats. To address this knowledge gap, the Australian Government is investing in programs such as SEA 2400 program funded by the Department of Defence, and the National Environmental Science Program (NESP) funded by the Department of the Environment and Energy. This investment seeks to grow the knowledge, collaboration and sharing of seabed data between commercial providers, government and universities.
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