Protecting Blue Economy Requires Survey Vessel Investment

With investment into new, multi-role naval vessels and submarines increasing worldwide, and projections on the Blue Economy suggesting its worth at $2.4 trillion per year, now is an opportune moment to reflect on the utility of Oceanographic Survey Vessels (OSV) and other surveying capabilities.

Ahead of this year’s OSV Conference on 21-22 June in London, UK, the Defence IQ undertook a survey of its community on the demands and priorities of OSVs as a means for both security and development.

Q1: Considering current budgets and security threats, is investment into oceano/hydrographic survey capabilities and capacities now more justified or less justified?

A: The majority of respondents see greater justification for investment into modern survey capabilities.

Q2: Do you believe your nation’s naval oceano/ hydrographic survey requirements are best served by a single, large highly capable multi-role vessel or by several smaller vessels?

A: While almost half of respondents favor a fleet of small, specialist vessel types, many preferred a tandem approach, citing the complexity of the waters and the variance of size and access from oceans to channels. However, even within this segment of responses, there is a gulf of differing opinion over whether multi-role or task-specific solutions are most- cost and operation-specific.

Q3: In what area of technology in this domain will see the most investment over the next 5-10 years?

A: Unmanned and autonomous systems are far and wide the most likely to see the biggest share of investment into oceano/hydrographic technology in the coming years. Processing of greater volumes of data is also likely to see reasonable levels of investment compared to more conventional equipment.

Q4: In what area of technology will the most significant innovations in this domain emerge within the next 5-10 years?

A: Perhaps owing to the levels of investment projections, innovations are likely to arise on par with the amount of funds channeled into these solutions.

Q5: Which of the following capabilities do you believe can benefit most from new or enhanced hydrographic survey capacity?

A: Perhaps inevitably, all capabilities mentioned ranked an aggregate of ‘Important’. Of those, Maritime Security and EEZ Protection, being the broadest of needs, ranked highest in priority.

Q6: Selecting all that apply, which defense capabilities in your nation’s Navy do you believe could benefit most in the near-term from further oceano/hydrographic investment?

A: Responders were invited to select all categories that they felt were pertinent. As such, the cumulative results show that submarine operations are marginally seen as being most likely to benefit from better oceano/hydrographic data than any other defense capability.

Q7: Beyond the need for navigational charts and maps, how important as a percentage is the management of the Blue Economy as a justification for investment into new survey capabilities?

A: Management of the Blue Economy has significant influence when it comes to justifying investment into modern surveys, being important to the balance of economy, security, environment and overall nation development.