This year’s UDT conference and exhibition – which took place at the Ahoy Convention Centre, Rotterdam, NL – played host to not only one of the largest displays of undersea defence technology, but also senior representatives from the military, industry and academia. UDT 2015 welcomed 1165 visitors, 245 military personnel, 425 conference delegates and 47 VIPs through its doors between 3 – 5 June.
The three-day conference agenda, whose overall theme was ‘Underwater Capability for an Uncertain Future’, was packed with expert presentations on the issues that top the subsea defence and security agenda. Heads of the UK and Italian submarine services were joined by leaders in the field of research and development from NATO and the Netherlands to explore both challenges and solutions in the underwater environment. The conference included detailed discussions on platform design; autonomous and remotely piloted systems; weapons, sensors and command systems; anti submarine warfare; and mines and mine countermeasures. The crossover of technologies between the military and civil sectors was also examined.
Conference delegate, Dr H Todd Kauderer, said: “It’s my first time here at UDT. It’s a great opportunity to meet people from around the world in this field. The subjects of the presentations are very interesting. The conference has been very well organised with great facilities. I just wish that there were more of me so that I could attend all the sessions!”
Speaker, Commodore Anil Jai Singh (Retd), Vice President of the Indian Maritime Foundation, also spoke positively of his experience: “UDT provides a focused platform to view and discuss a wide range of contemporary and emerging technologies connected with the undersea warfare domain. It is an extremely informative and educational experience and the conference and exhibition complement each other most effectively. This provides the participant – designer, engineer and most importantly the user, an opportunity to better understand the conceptual and practical aspects of these modern technologies. Needless to add, the flawless conduct of the entire event adds further value to the entire experience. “
The opening keynote addresses were delivered this year by Vice Admiral Matthieu Borsboom, Director of the Netherlands Defence Materiel Organisation and Wim Bargerbos, Principal Director, Principal Directorate of General Policy Affairs, Netherlands MOD. Both speakers raised concerns over increasing tension in several parts of the world and the potential for friction in the global environment with a build-up of modern navies currently underway, particularly in South East Asia, and the wide scale proliferation of subsea capability. Other key points included the need to reverse negative budgetary trends and importance of collaboration, cooperation and integration within industry and military in the subsea sector.
The Plenary Session on the second day was themed ‘Current and Future Challenges in the Undersea Environment’. The panel included Rear Admiral Matt Parr, Commander Operations, UK Royal Navy, Rear Admiral (Ret.), Hank Ort, Director, NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation; Rear Admiral Dario Giacomin, Chief of Submarine Forces, Italy; and Hendrik-Jan Van-Veen, Director Information Superiority at TNO Defence, Safety and Security.
The audience was given a sense of the UK Royal Navy’s current operational tempo and challenges by Adm Parr; and Adm Giacomin spoke of the challenges facing the Italian navy, particularly migrant crossings from Libya. Mr Van-Veen spoke of the impressive levels of innovation in the industry currently, particularly in the AUV sector; and Adm Ort highlighted the difficulties of the contemporary subsea strategic environment, a complex interplay of many differing threats.
High tech subsea solutions on display
The importance of UDT was evident as 72 exhibiting companies from 13 countries made the trip to Rotterdam: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, the United States, Israel and Turkey.
French company ALSEAMAR featured its ‘Sea Explorer’ unmanned underwater multi-mission rechargeable glider. The UUV can spend up to 60 days at sea and relay information across thousands of kilometres. This capability is particularly valuable for carrying out sustained, stealthy surveillance of hostile regions on a cost effective basis, carrying sensors to locations that might be unsafe for manned platforms.
Ortega Submersibles used a stunning virtual reality presentation to brief visitors on their Mk.1C three-crew submersible craft that is capable of fast, long-range travel either on or under the surface. It has a surface and submerged speed of 10 knots, has a minimum range of 125 nautical miles and is stealthiest within 10 metres below the surface.
Daan Pol, Chief Creative Officer at Ortega was very complimentary of the show: “The show has far exceeded our expectations. There have been a good mix of visitors, and visitors that want to talk about the product; which we value very highly. UDT is very focused and we really like that. We didn’t expect serious business but we fit in well here. We’ve had a warm welcome and will definitely re-book for next year. We’ve made some great new acquaintances, some who can supply us with the components we need, help us solve technical issues, and offering advice on how adapt to the market. We’ve certainly gained invaluable market intelligence here. Brilliant show, we couldn’t be any happier, see you next year.”
Blueprint Subsea showcased its StarFish Sonar Systems. StarFish are a range of side-scanning sonar systems that use the latest acoustic technology and signal processing techniques to produce high quality underwater imagery.
James Barratt, Director at Blueprint Subsea said: “The show went really well and it’s definitely been worthwhile coming for us, we’re a small company but we’ve got to meet all the end users here who have given positive feedback on our product.”
Saab announced at the show the receipt of an order from Modus Seabed Intervention Ltd for delivery of Seaeye Sabertooth Hybrid AUV/ROV during the first quarter 2016. The order is the first in a planned fleet of Sabertooth vehicles from Saab, which will be available on the market during 2016. It also includes a collaboration agreement between Saab and MODUS where Modus will provide, among other things, operational input to the future development of the system.
Rotterdam, a key maritime city and a crucial port for global trade and naval power projection, was an appropriate backdrop for UDT 2015. Rear Admiral Simon Williams, Chairman, Clarion Events, said: “UDT 2015, the 28th edition of this highly successful event, has continued the strong tradition of quality in terms of conference content, audience engagement and vibrant interaction. UDT provides the platform for the essential dialogue between key professionals from industry, academia, and critically those engaged in procurement, support, and operations in the underwater enterprise. TNO and NIDV have supported this event from start to finish and we have been grateful to have them as our partners this year. UDT 2015 has in all senses of the word been a success and Rotterdam has firmly established itself as a favourite with the UDT community”. The UDT organisers, Clarion Events, have stated that the 2016 event will take place in Oslo from 1-3 June.
For more information on UDT visit www.udt-global.com
UDT 2015 was the 28th edition. UDT is the only dedicated undersea defence technology conference and exhibition, bringing together naval procurement specialists, defence scientists and key technology providers for discussion, networking and the examination of new technology. The event, which is staged in Europe and Asia, covers the entire spectrum of undersea defence and security technology and the emphasis is very much on preparing for the future by identifying today the factors that are shaping the future of undersea security.
About Clarion Events Limited
Clarion Events is the largest independent and one of the top three events organising companies in the United Kingdom, running exhibitions, conferences and seated events across Britain, Europe, the Americas, Middle East and Asia. Clarion’s business-to-business and business-to-consumer events serve 15 different market sectors including: defence & security, leisure, entertainment, finance, retail, gaming, fine art and energy. To learn more, please visit www.clarionevents.com