University and Royal Navy agree to join forces for marine autonomy research

Professor Judith Petts CBE and Rear Admiral Andrew Burns CB, OBE officially launch a new partnership between the University of Plymouth and the Royal Navy

The University of Plymouth and the Royal Navy have joined forces to conduct research and advance understanding around the future potential of marine autonomy.

The partnership will see world-leading academics, in fields including autonomous marine vessels and maritime cyber security, working closely with navy personnel on a range of innovative projects.

That will include Project Hecla, established in 2018 to optimise the Navy’s ability to collect and exploit hydrographic and oceanographic information.

The University will work with the project team on ways to enhance its feeding back of vital survey information to the UK Hydrographic Office and the RN’s highly skilled HM cadre.

They will also look at harnessing the capabilities of the University’s unique and recently opened £3.2 million Cyber-SHIP Lab, which aims to secure maritime operations through cyber resilience research, tools and training.

The partnership was formally launched during a visit to the University by Rear Admiral Andrew Burns CB, OBE, Director Develop of Navy Command, and other senior navy personnel.

Hosted by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Judith Petts CBE, and academic staff from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, they were given a tour of the new Cyber-SHIP Lab and other facilities within the Marine Building.

They also visited the waterfront Marine Station, where the University’s own fleet of autonomous marine vessels – including the uncrewed surface vehicle USV CETUS – is based.

<p>UOP RN partnership - Cyber-SHIP Lab<br></p>
<p>UOP RN partnership - Cyber-SHIP Lab<br></p>
<p>UOP RN partnership - Cyber-SHIP Lab<br></p>

Professor Judith Petts CBE said:

“The University is delighted to formalise our partnership with the Royal Navy in the crucial area of marine and maritime autonomy research and innovation. This will capitalise on our internationally leading position in this broad field, our nationally unique on-campus facilities, our partnerships in Plymouth and the wider south-west in particular, and the significant demonstration and testing opportunities in Plymouth Sound.”

Rear Admiral Andrew Burns CB, OBE - made a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (Military division) in the 2021 Queen's Birthday Honours - added:

“I am delighted that this long-running partnership is being deepened further in the area of maritime autonomy. It is one of the technologies the Royal Navy is adopting to maintain its operational advantage in an increasingly competitive environment.”

<p>UOP RN partnership - Marine Station<br></p>
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UOP RN partnership - Marine Station

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UOP RN partnership - Marine Station

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The University of Plymouth was recently named the leading university in the world for marine research and teaching and this is enhanced by several significant partnerships with international marine and maritime organisations.

It has an established association with the Royal Navy, having for many years served provided opportunities for personnel during their professional training at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.

It trains specialist Officers and Ratings of the Royal Navy's Warfare Branch in hydrography, meteorology and oceanography, and accredits the degrees offered by the Royal Marines School of Music.

Several University staff also serve in the Royal Navy Reserve, regularly swapping their academic roles to serve on operations across the world.


World leaders

We are ranked the number one university globally for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number 14: life below water.

The award recognises the quality of our marine research and teaching as well as our efforts to reduce the impact of campus activities on the marine environment. The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021: life below water

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Marine Institute

Representing 3000 staff, researchers and students, the University of Plymouth's Marine Institute is the first and largest such institute in the UK. 

We provide the external portal to our extensive pool of world-leading experts and state-of-the-art facilities, enabling us to understand the relationship between the way we live, the seas that surround us and the development of sustainable policy solutions.

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The Maritime Cyber Threats Research Group

The group has been formed to bring together leading-edge multidisciplinary research and practical expertise in the core areas of cyber-security and maritime operations together with psychology researchers, and maritime law and policy experts

For more about the group, visit their dedicated web page