Subsea Expo

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Subsea Expo Shines Spotlight on Defence Opportunities

10 February 2022

Greater collaboration between the offshore energy and defence sectors could open up lucrative opportunities for the underwater industry, according to the Global Underwater Hub. 

The organisers of Subsea Expo will be highlighting how advanced underwater technology could solve key challenges facing both sectors on the first day of the flagship event on 22nd of February at P&J Live. 

Presentations from the Royal Navy, the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UKDSC), Scotland’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), Neptune Energy, EODEX, and Babcock will provide delegates with an overview of the defence sector and how collaboration could be the key to unlocking multi-million contracts. 

According to research from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2020, global defence spending reached the highest annual level since 1988 at $1.98 trillion1. This figure is expected to increase steadily in the coming decade.

Further analysis from the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UKDSC) indicated a total global maritime market worth almost $800billion to 2029. Of this total, the underwater market comprises submarines and unmanned underwater vehicles which, when combined, are forecast to be worth $287billion2.

Neil Gordon, chief executive of the GUH, said: "Defence science and technology spend is on the rise. The defence sector, which has an established track-record in adopting technologies to meet its needs in a range of underwater challenges, has a strong supply chain but recognises the value in cross-sector capabilities. Of particular interest to the defence sector in-water marine operations and repair, through water communications, energy transition propulsion systems, underwater robotics, and autonomous operations – areas in which the offshore energy segment of the underwater industry excels. 

"The focus on defence at Subsea Expo will identify specific opportunities for underwater companies and facilitate conversations which could pave the way for collaborative problem solving and multi-million pound deals.”

The defence session at Subsea Expo will be chaired by Mark Richardson, vice president of projects at Neptune Energy, with the first presentations coming from Rear Admiral Paul Halton OBE, Royal Navy, director of submarine support, Submarine Delivery Agency, and William Powell, the head of strategic capability at the UKDSC, focussing on facilitating partnerships and cooperation between the UK Government and the private defence industry.  

The session includes a presentation from Joshua Robertson and Ivan Stace from Babcock International, discussing the need to undertake extensive in-water engineering research and the potential areas of growth through collaboration within the underwater industry.  

Debra Carr, innovation partner at DASA, will present the funding opportunities available for companies in the underwater sector to come up with innovative ideas that benefit the UK's defence and national security. DASA has provided over £13 million in funding for 75 Scottish projects over the past five years. 

Delegates will also hear from Andrew Woollven, managing director at EODEX, about the ways in which military solutions such as low order deflagration can be adapted for the commercial sector to mitigate the underwater unexploded ordnance threat. Deflagration is a proven solution which has been used in the military for nearly 20 years and offshore wind developers are increasingly interested in adopting it for commercial applications. 

Submarine rescue system - Courtesy of Forum Energy Technologies