Treading Water

Albert dock II croppedWhile concerns surrounding security above water has been around for ages, the underwater aspect has remained largely untouched until recent years. Yet the underwater security market is catching up rapidly with opportunities across the globe.

Despite this, considering that the market is showing exponential growth, the turnout at UDT 2014 in Liverpool was surprisingly low.

A couple of key companies in the industry that exhibited last year were absent in Liverpool including Thales, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Bluefin Robotics and Raytheon. This might be a sign that the show is losing its prominence in this niche market.

Talking to the companies attending, I learned that not everyone was particularly happy with Clarion’s decision to hold the show in Liverpool. Although understandable from a cost perspective as well as Liverpool’s maritime history, it did not attract the amount of delegates that some exhibitors had hoped for.

However, some companies including Atlas Elektronik and Babcock looked back on what they saw as a good show that allowed them to catch up with their existing clients.

But where are the new opportunities for underwater security?

Budgets of Western navies are constrained and there is only a limited number of sites that need protection. The strongest market is Asia with opportunities offered by the modernisation efforts of navies in the region. Further, the commercial sector is thriving and a prosperous energy sector is fuelling demand for underwater security for its platforms.

A UDT in Asia would therefore be a good opportunity for companies to do real business but the event, which was scheduled last year in Singapore, got cancelled and there has been no talk yet of a new attempt.

Instead, the next UDT is going to be held in Rotterdam, a great city for business and culture, but it remains to be seen if this location will attract the exhibitors and delegates that stayed away this year.

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