A new type of small survey craft that will improve Navy’s geospatial survey capabilities has been launched from HMAS Adelaide for the first time.

The inaugural launch of Polaris from Adelaide took place on October 29 off the coast of Townsville during Exercise Sea Wader.

The Polaris is part of a range of new equipment delivered to the Maritime Geospatial Warfare Unit.

The new equipment, which also includes a Fly Away Survey Kit and the Remus 100S Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, aims to modernise the collection and processing of geospatial data by Navy hydrographers.

Operations Officer Maritime Geospatial Warfare Unit Lieutenant Commander Paul Clark said the team in Adelaide developed the procedures for launching the survey vessel.

“Our priority for the launch was to test our ability to deploy the survey craft from an LHD [landing helicopter dock],” he said. 

“We can now train members of our deployable geospatial support team so they can familiarise themselves with the new survey craft.”

The Polaris is equipped with a range of technologies, including a multi-beam echo sounder, side-scan sonar, and sub-bottom profiler, and has an ability to deploy its own autonomous underwater vehicle.

Lieutenant Commander Clark said the survey craft would give Navy teams improved capability in a number of areas.

“The survey craft will allow the deployable geospatial support teams to complete tasks such as surveying shipping lanes, beaches, anchorage areas and areas affected by natural disasters in which navigational accuracy is not guaranteed,” he said.

“It will also allow the geospatial survey teams to collect and process much higher quality data than previously available.”

Navy’s Hydrographic, Meteorological and Oceanographic Group has four deployable geospatial support teams that have been training for the past 12 months on the new capabilities being delivered under the SEA1770 project.