The UDT 2019 conference considered the key issues faced by countries like Sweden as they address their needs in the global underwater defence and security environment. Sweden occupies a key geographic location in the Baltic Sea. Although the issues that the country faces are products of its geography, they are not unique. Many nations, such as other Baltic States and those in South East Asia, tackle a similar mix of challenges in the underwater environment: proximity to a key global trading artery; shallow littoral waters with many islands; critical national and international infrastructure in the maritime environment; complex maritime boundaries and borders; and a need to operate in the global oceanic environment in order to assert national and international interests.
Sweden’s Defence Policy 2016-2020 establishes the Swedish approach to the deteriorating global security environment. It highlights that the underwater environment and specifically anti-submarine warfare (ASW) is an area in which Sweden is investing. Other nations are responding to the declining international environment in similar ways.
Responding to Sweden’s “Total Defence” approach, UDT 2019 will examine how the underwater defence and security environment fits into a Total Defence architecture. The conference will examine how new and emerging technologies may be deployed It will also consider how incremental developments in established technologies are forging new ways of employing underwater capabilities in pursuit of the traditional underwater defence disciplines of submarine warfare, ASW, mining and mine countermeasures, and combat diving. In recognition of the demands of a Total Defence concept the linkages between the capabilities developed for war fighting and the preservation of security in the underwater environment in times of tension will be explored. Harbour protection and protecting critical infrastructure in the marine environment from terrorist attack or disruption of service are key areas of concern in the underwater security environment as these may occur at any time. These security demands may be serviced by adapting defence capabilities, through the development of new unique concepts and technologies, or by adapting commercial technologies utilised by other operators in the underwater environment. UDT offers the opportunity for technology developers and researchers to explore all possibilities.
In both the defence and security sectors manned and unmanned systems will play a role for the foreseeable future, but the balance is likely to change. The development of more complex man/ machine teaming will be an increasing feature of that future. Similarly, the interplay between fixed and mobile sensors, submarine and anti-submarine warfare, mining and mine counter measures, out of water and in water maintenance, will continue to push the boundaries of the available technology along with the pursuit of value for money by governments and industry customers. UDT will continue to explore these elements of the underwater defence and security environment.