A first-timer at Pacific

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G’day, mates! I returned from the Pacific 2015 expo in Sydney last week. It was my first time there, and I have put together some (mildly interesting) observations about the show and its content.

The first thing is that it’s the only show I’ve been to where one takes a ferry to the venue. Indeed, it was rather pleasant taking a free, repeat free, ferry past the Sydney Opera House and under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the exhibition centre. A very pleasant way to travel.

There was not an awful lot of major hardware on show at Pacific – a Sikorsky MH-60R and an NHIndustries MRH90 helicopter, plus the frigate HMAS Sydney, a vessel that will be decommissioned next month. However, let’s not fault this, for there was plenty going on inside the centre’s four halls.

Pacific expos are chock-a-block with various conferences. There was SeaPower and there was one on UAVs, for example. In fact, the list of conference topics was so comprehensive that it was difficult to decide which ones to go to!

An interesting snippet gleaned from one session was that Indonesia would need 300 vessels simultaneously at sea to adequately monitor its waters. Furthermore, Indonesian waters have now again become the riskiest in the world in terms of maritime crime.

9N5A1043Another fascination was a major push by the Japanese. As well as hosting a conference on the Japanese defence industry, there was a well-stocked booth (headlined by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) showing a variety warships and submarine models. With Australia seeking a replacement submarine for its ageing Collins-class boats, Japan has turned into a serious contender. It was thus cementing its status with a presence at Pacific 2015, even though Tokyo is a novice on the international arms scene.

While there were no earth-shattering revelations at the show, it was a good opportunity to learn more about Australian naval programmes, including the looming shipbuilding ‘valley of death’, unmanned surface vessels (USV) like the developmental Ocius that will have an anti-submarine warfare capability, Saab’s Bonefish USV, and the navy’s ongoing experimentation with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

All round, an interesting show in a pleasant city. Good on ya, Aussie mates!

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