A panel of six Australian and one New Zealand hydrographic companies have been selected to collect environmental data to survey shipping routes, commercial ports and maritime approaches within the Australian Charting Area.
FILE PHOTO: Hydrographic Survey Blue Crew patch.
This, according to the Morrison Government will mean maritime vessels will be able to operate more safely in Australian waters with the government partnering with local industry to produce digital maps of Australia’s sea and coastal areas.
Up to now – in fact, since 1920 – this charting responsibility fell to the Royal Australian Navy’s Hydrographic Survey Office, recently renamed the Australian Hydrographic Office.
The new HydroScheme Industry Partnership Program (HIPP) will be managed by the Australian Hydrographic Office.
The AusSeaBed web site says [the minister didn’t, in her press release] HIPP would partner with industry to improve Australia’s knowledge of the maritime domain and allow the Royal Australian Navy to concentrate on the military-survey function.
HIPP will start in 2020, will expand in scope as it matures, enabling greater research, understanding and management of Australia’s maritime environment.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the $150 million partnership secured a sovereign capacity to produce hydrographic information over the next five years.
“It is vital to our national interest that the ADF can operate in Australian waters and that both commercial and naval vessels can safely navigate these waters,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Given Australia’s sea charting area covers 10-per cent of the Earth’s surface, this commercial deal also frees up Defence’s specialist workforce and capabilities to focus on military geospatial requirements,” Minister Reynolds said.
She said Defence was also investigating options to replace Navy’s current military hydrographic survey capability.
“This is as part of a commitment to building a hydrographic vessel and two mine-warfare-support vessels at Henderson in Western Australia,” Minister Reynolds said.
“The scoping study includes an option for a specialist vessel based on the Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel.”
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The headline reflects my personal scepticism and experience with civilianising military functions.