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NEWS | Nov. 7, 2023

NUWC Division Newport signs Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Flinders University in support of AUKUS

By NUWC Division Newport Public Affairs

Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport and Flinders University of Adelaide, Australia, signed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) on Oct. 25 to foster new technologies in support of AUKUS, the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The CRADA marks a significant step forward in advancing collaborative research between the U.S. and Australia in the field of undersea technology and opens up opportunities for Flinders University researchers to develop rapid solutions, future partnerships, skills exchange and opportunities for impactful on-site training, contributing to the advancement of Australian and U.S. joint interests.

The pioneering agreement is a significant step in fostering closer U.S.-Australia research cooperation on the largest infrastructure investment in Australia’s history and signifies South Australia’s strategic position at the heart of Australia’s continuous naval shipbuilding program, including both AUKUS pillars.

“We are excited to build this relationship with Flinders University, which is emblematic of the collaborations we need to keep our undersea technology on the cutting edge and enable the naval capabilities needed to protect our nations,” Division Newport Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Hennings said.

“Our partnership with NUWC Division Newport signifies a new era in undersea technology research, where the best minds from Australia and the U.S. will join forces to address critical challenges and opportunities,” Flinders University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said.

“Flinders is proud to be at the forefront of advancing submarine defence capabilities in Australia.

This landmark collaboration reinforces Flinders’ position as a global leader in underwater technologies and underscores our dedication to innovative research. We look forward to the transformative research outcomes and educational outcomes that will arise from this partnership.”

Under the terms of the CRADA, Division Newport scientist and engineers and Flinders University staff work together to identify and collaborate on cutting-edge research projects and initiatives related to undersea technology. Subject matter experts from both organizations held a technical exchange meeting on Oct. 10 to consider several collaborative research opportunities.

Presentations by Division Newport personnel included “Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning,” by Anton Spirkin and Dr. Christopher Hixenbaugh, of the Undersea Warfare Platforms and Payload Integration Department; “Biofouling,” by Dr. Thomas Ramotowski and Kristina Kamensky, of the Sensors and Sonar Systems Department; “Electromagnetics/Antennas,” by William Craig, of the Undersea Warfare Electromagnetic Systems Department; and “Cybersecurity,” by Dr. Benjamin Drozdenko, of the Undersea Warfare Combat Systems Department.

Dr. Jason Gomez, Division Newport’s chief technology officer, said the CRADA will create a foundation for technology development so that AUKUS will endure.

“NUWC Division Newport is excited to enter into a collaborative research agreement with Flinders University. With the growing importance of the undersea domain, we are continuously looking to expand our research base and tap into the knowledge and talent of academia,” Gomez said. “Flinders University is a great partner and has a wide array of overlapping and complimentary research interests with NUWC. We look forward to establishing long-lasting research collaborations that will provide both a technology development and expert workforce pipeline, to help provide an enduring foundation for the AUKUS agreement.” 

Another technical exchange meeting is planned for the future and will focus on shared research possibilities related to autonomy and decision-making, and bio-inspired sensing. Joint research on subjects that pertain to human factors will be the focus of a meeting in early 2024 between the two groups.

The CRADA will extend for three years, concluding on Oct. 25, 2026. Some 5,500 direct jobs will be created to build the SSN-AUKUS submarines in South Australia when the program reaches its peak in 20 to 30 years.

“Building ships and submarines in our state will deliver thousands of jobs,” said Peter Malinauskas, premier of South Australia. “But this endeavor is about more than cutting steel. This research partnership is exactly what we’re seeking — more highly educated South Australians doing more complicated and interesting work in a way that builds the overall complexity of our economy.”

AUKUS was created in September 2021 and the partnership is intended to strengthen each government’s security and defense interests through deeper information and technology sharing and greater integration of security and defense-related science, technology, industrial bases, and supply chains.

An announcement about the partnership was posted by Flinders University here.

In May, the University of Rhode Island also formalized a research and education partnership with Australia’s Flinders University. Read more about the partnership here.

NUWC Newport is the oldest warfare center in the country, tracing its heritage to the Naval Torpedo Station established on Goat Island in Newport Harbor in 1869. Commanded by Capt. Chad Hennings, NUWC Newport maintains major detachments in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Andros Island in the Bahamas, as well as test facilities at Seneca Lake and Fisher's Island, New York, Leesburg, Florida, and Dodge Pond, Connecticut.

Join our team! NUWC Division Newport, one of the 20 largest employers in Rhode Island, employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, and other STEM professionals, as well as talented business, finance, logistics and other support experts who wish to be at the forefront of undersea research and development. Please connect with NUWC Division Newport Recruiting at this site-  and follow us on LinkedIn @NUWC-Newport and on Facebook @NUWCNewport.