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SurfZoneView goes operational in Kaikoura

Line of Defence, Autumn 2017

SurfZoneView will assist with amphibious landingsSurfZoneView will assist with amphibious landings


Taranaki-based oceanography company MetOcean Solutions has broken into the defence industry with software designed to get soldiers safely from landing craft to beaches. The award-winning solution was thrust into an operational role recently to aid naval beach landings as part of the evacuation of people from quake-hit Kaikoura.

Named SurfZoneView, the breakthrough software takes the guesswork out of beach landings by mapping currents, rips, swell, wave height and other variables that occur in the surf zone. It is the result of collaboration between MetOcean Solutions and the New Zealand Defence Technology Agency (NZDTA).

“The NZDF initially approached MetOcean Solutions with their vision for a tactical decision aid to plan beach landings along wave exposed shorelines,” MetOcean's technical director David Johnson told Line of Defence. “DTA got involved as collaborators to ensure that the end result was fit for purpose and of sufficient scientific rigour.”

Apart from assisting with amphibious landings, the tool is capable of assisting nearshore operations in general, facilitating the planning and execution of any activity occurring along wave exposed coastlines. Applications might include – but are not limited to – coast guard operations, coastal engineering and surf lifesaving.

According to the MetOcean team, a key enabler for the success of the project was a very clear vision and scope from the NZDF, as well as the NZDF's desire to be engaged during the development process, including the provision constructive feedback.

This involved a significant volume of communication and feedback as the tool developed, said Dr Johnson. “NZDF communicated how the tool was to be used within an operational setting very clearly, which allowed us to ensure that the tool was able to be used as planned.”

There was also, he observed, a great deal of “mutual respect within the team - everybody were scientists and had high degree of expertise, which resulted in great ideas flowing from both sides.”

Apart from the naval response to the Kaikoura Earthquake, SurfZoneView has been used in several exercises. It was also a winner at last year's prestigious Minister for Defence Industry Awards for Excellence.

MetOcean took out the Category 2 award for the provision of a product to defence of less than $15 million. Hawker Pacific NZ Limited and Kongsberg Defence Systems took out the remaining two categories.

“The awards are an important way of acknowledging the role the defence industry plays in supporting both the Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force,” Minister Brownlee stated.

“We are very proud of the award,” said Dr Johnson. “It validates our mission which is to create real-world end-user tools and applications from the latest oceanographic science.”

The software is to be made commercially available to navies, civil defence agencies and coastguards around the world. MetOcean has already received significant interest, including from the Italian, French, British, Brazilian and Thai Navies.

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