Our Mission

 

To supply the world's best unmanned surface vessels with more
power, payload and performance 
supporting Defence, Industry and Science personnel to monitor large areas of ocean
continuously at low cost and with no one in harm's way. 

People

 

Mark Bethwaite AM
Chairman

Now a professional director, Mark has been a shareholder in OCIUS since 2000. He has a degree in Engineering and an MBA and has been Managing Director of two large mining companies and one of Australia’s leading industry associations.
Mark represented Australia in sailing in the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games and has won World 
Championships in three international classes. Mark was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in early 2011 for services to industry and to sailing.

Robert Dane
Chief Executive Officer

Robert Dane is founder and CEO. In 1996, Robert, a passionate sailor and environmentalist, invented and patented the 'solarsail' and designed the first ‘solarsailor’ prototype which won the Advanced Technology Boat Race in Canberra in 1997.
The first commercial 'solarsailor' ferry won the Australian Design Award of the Year in 2001. Robert is Intel Environment Laureate and a WWF Future Maker recipient and was recently honoured to be a finalist for the International Windship Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017, Robert was awarded the Spitfire Memorial Defence Association Fellowship.

The Hon. Bob Hawke AC
Chairman of Advisory Board

Hon Bob Hawke was Prime Minister of Australia from 1983 to 1991. He has high-level industry and government relations in Australia, China, the USA, and Europe. 
He was Chairman of OCIUS (formerly Solar Sailor) for 12 years from 2002 - 2014.
The Hon Bob Hawke is now the Chairman of the OCIUS Advisory Board.

David Saxelby
Non-Executive Director

David is one of the most senior Executives in the Construction and Infrastructure Industry in Australia. He has held Managing Director and CEO roles for the past decade, most recently with Lend Lease as CEO of Construction and Infrastructure Australia, a $7Bn per annum business including Engineering, Building, Services and Capella Capital.

David has held a number of senior industry positions including President and Board member of Australian Constructors Association, Board member of Roads Australia, Board member of Infrastructure Partnership Association and Board member of Minerals Council of Australia.

He has been listed in the Top 100 Engineers in Australia for the past four years.

He currently holds a number of board positions and consults extensively within the Industry.

Lloyd Breckenridge
Senior Systems Engineer

Lloyd has over 30 years of experience as a software engineer working in varied roles for both large organisations and small innovative companies in Australia and overseas. The last 6 years has seen him primarily involved in autonomous vehicle development and applications. Lloyd was a key member of Team Thunder, who successfully competed in the 2014 UAV Challenge Outback Rescue competition run by the CSIRO and Queensland University of Technology. He has had considerable sailing experience having started sailing at an early age on Lake Macquarie. In his current role as Senior Systems Engineer for OCIUS Technology Ltd he feels he has found his dream job.

Tracey Sharah B.Com CPA DipFP
Group Accountant & Company Secretary

Tracey has over 25 years’ experience in corporate and public practice accounting, business advisory, tax and superannuation. 17 years of this experience is in running her own CPA Public Practice Accounting Firm. Specialising in Company Secretarial and outsourced Corporate Financial Officer engagements, Business Taxation, Accounting, Advisory and Self-Managed Superannuation Funds. The practice is a 100% sustainable business, adopts the latest accounting and tax technology apps and 90% paperless.

Our Partners

DST Group is a national leader in safeguarding Australia by delivering valued scientific advice and innovative solutions for Defence and national security. OCIUS Technology Limited was selected for the Capability and Technology Demonstrator Program (CTD) in 2015 to develop an Anti-Submarine Warfare Unmanned Surface Vessel (ASW-USV). The A$3M contract provided extensive validation of our strategy to draw on proprietary technology for the development of long-range, autonomous surveillance and sensing platforms. Specifically, it allowed us to develop a high-performance OCIUS Bluebottle Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) coupled with an integrated Thales Australia thin-line towed array sonar system. This was demonstrated to NAVY on Aug 10, 2017, and exceeded all contract performance measures. OCIUS has been invited to apply for further Technology Demonstrator funding under the Defence Innovation Hub program.

Stebercraft International is a leader in Australian boat manufacturing and industrial composite technology since 1947. Steber manufactures high-quality boats for fishing, charter, patrol, sea rescue, medical support, surveillance and general boating use. All Steber boats are individually designed and built to suit their purpose, with a quality of manufacture that ensures a long service life and the capability to put to sea when many other vessels need to return to port. Steber's core business of composite component manufacture is all undertaken in their climate controlled factory ensuring all laminating is carried out within humidity and temperature parameters allowing 24-hour production when required. Stebercraft is an Australian owned and operated family company with a firm commitment to provide a high-quality product with excellent customer service.

Thales is part of a leading international electronics and systems group serving the defence, aerospace and space, security, and transport markets in Australia and throughout the world.Thales’ expertise ranges across protected mobility vehicles, naval support services and integrated communications solutions for defence through to air traffic management systems, cybersecurity solutions and transport systems for the commercial sector. OCIUS and Thales have paired to demonstrate a low-cost, long-range, persistent detection capability that enhances the ability of Navy surface forces to detect and track modern submarines and torpedoes at realistic standoff distances.

One2three naval architects designed our second prototype Bruce’s hull, keel, deck and hatches. They are well known in the sailing world as the naval architects who have multiple times re-designed "Wild Oats' the record-breaking maxi and 8 times winner of line honours in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. They will review Bruce’s seakeeping ability in a range of conditions to provide several improvements in design, tracking, helm, payload bay & performance for the next prototypes.

UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales) is one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities. OCIUS have a contract for research into autonomous sailing and collision avoidance with the University of New South Wales. UNSW provide OCIUS with a design facility in UNSW’s Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Buildings. Additionally, OCIUS has hired a software engineer from UNSW, and four students from UNSW’s Sunswift solar car team under a scholarship program.

Ulladulla Engineering and Fibreglass.

Bruce Heggie and Graham ‘Butch’ Johnson are well known on the NSW South Coast as suppliers of innovative machine and fibreglass products. They have supplied fibreglass and mechanical engineering since the successful winning of the International boat race in 1997. They have provided equipment for all solar sailor ferries, scale models and prototypes including our Bluebottles' steering mechanisms, patented rudder flipper appendages and patented solarsails & mechanisms.

Our Story

In 1996, Dr Robert Dane watched a solar boat race in Canberra and wondered how to build a solar and wind-powered vessel that was seaworthy. The next year he was back and won the race, beating the next solar boat by six laps of 5km using a new patented solar sail - one simple device that could harness solar and wind power and fold away when not used. In 2000, he founded Solar Sailor Holdings Limited, with its mission to combine renewable energies for marine propulsion.

With support from family & friends, early investors and an Australian Greenhouse Office Federal Government grant, SolarSailor built a 100 pax tourist leisure ferry for Sydney Harbour.  This innovative vessel was operated commercially by Captain Cook Cruises for over 10 years carrying tens of thousands of passengers. Following the sale of Captain Cook Cruises in 2011, the Solar Sailor vessel operated commercially on Lake Macquarie as a charter and dolphin watch vessel and in 2014 was sold to a private buyer to convert into a houseboat.

Solar Sailor built 5 other commercial solar sailor vessels providing valuable experience to OCIUS on the commercial maritime and technical applications of its technology as well as developing an extensive network of first class suppliers and partners.

Commercial Ferries

  • SolarSailor” (Australia). This vessel was completed in one year and won the Australian Design Award of the Year in 2001.
  • Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust Project (Hong Kong). In July 2008, with oil at $140/ barrel, the Hong Kong Jockey Club ordered the construction of four commuter ferries to operate a service to transport players, staff and supplies from the mainland at Sai Kung to the island of Kau Sai Chau where the HKJC has three 18 hole golf courses. The ferries alternate two routes of five and seven mile round trips with slow sectors at each end in a 20-minute cycle. Solar Sailor modelling predicted substantial savings in fuel consumption compared to the previous ‘standard’ diesel ferry service, as well as reductions in emissions.  The boats in operation have exceeded this since in independent tests since delivery and are still running 14 hours a day, seven days a week using half the fuel of the previous ferries.
  • Shanghai World Expo (China). After demonstration of the Sydney ferry to Suntech, a Wuxi-based solar panel company, in 2009 OCIUS was awarded a contract to design, build and install a 12 -metre high SolarSail with software integration, on a 250 pax VIP river cruise boat vessel,  ‘Suntech Guoshung’ for the World Expo in Shanghai.

Unmanned Surface Vessels
Following an enquiry from the USA in 2007 for a ‘self-sustaining platform at sea’, OCIUS began research into the development of unmanned solar/wind/wave and ballasted powered ocean vessels or autonomous unmanned surface vessels. Initially, a 20 foot manned engineering development model (EDM) proved the 'speed of advance' in all conditions, adequate power, payload and persistence for a sustainable platform able to go to sea for months.

In 2014, Solar Sailor changed its name to OCIUS (Latin for 'fleet') to reflect an expansion of its patented technologies including the solar sail. With Ulladulla Fibreglass and Engineering, OCIUS built multiple scale models for tank and lake testing, culminating in the building of the first 10' prototype called 'Nemo' (Latin for 'no one' ie unmanned) which provided significant proof of concept of a solar, wind and wave powered USV carrying a significant payload.

Based on Nemo's development, in 2015 OCIUS was awarded a $3M Capability Technology Demonstrator (CTD) from Defence Science and Technology Group. This proved a significant contract and OCIUS with our partners developed an 18' prototype 'Bruce' for Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW), which demonstrated to NAVY in August 2017.

Awards and Milestones

2017 - Awarded Australian Maritime Innovation Award: Defence SME - With a $10 000 grant

2017 – Awarded Spitfire Memorial Defence Fellowship

2016 – Finalist in the Wind Propulsion Technology User Award

2016 – Robert Dane, finalist in the Lifetime Achievement Award, International Windship Association

2015 – Secured Capability Technology Demonstrator (CTD) Contract with Thales Australia for development of Antisubmarine Unmanned Surface Vessel (ASWUSV)

2015Winner Australian Technologies Competition, Best Advanced Manufacturing Category for Bluebottle USV

2014 – Sold 100 PAX ‘Sydney SolarSailor’ ferry to private buyer

2013 – Energy Globe Award for Sustainability

2012 – Robert Dane, WWF Future Makers Award

2011  Delivery of the final vessel for HKJC – 'Solar Albatross'

2010 Winner China Seatrade Award – Dalian

2010  Delivery of third HK ferry – ‘Solar Eagle’

2010 – Delivery of second HK ferry – ‘Solar Birdie’

2010  Winner Environmental Technology Award at the Sustainable Shipping Awards

2010 – Delivery Shanghai Vessel for World Expo – 'Suntech Guoshung'

2010 – Delivery first Hong Kong Jockey Club ferry – ‘Solar Golf’

2009  Contract Schneider Electric for SS HMP190/25 supply and warranty for Hong Kong boats

2009  Italian Well Tech Design Award

2007 – Paper Australian Journal of Mechanical Engineers Vol 4 No 2. ISSN: 1448-4846

2007 – Robert Dane Intel Environment Laureate USA

2006 – HIPER Conference presentation peer reviewed paper

2004 – United Nations Awards finalist – Green Ferries for Blue Highways

2003 – Contract Captain Cook Cruises to manage and operate the ‘Sydney SolarSailor’

2002 – Hon Bob Hawke Chairman of the Company

2002 – Robert Dane SEDA NSW Green Ambassador

2001 – Winner Australian Design Award of the Year 2001

2000 – ‘Sydney SolarSailor’ launched

2000 – Winner International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association Award

2000 – Winner Boating Industry Association of Australia Marine Awards

1999 – Winner Far Eastern Economic Review/Du Pont Asian Innovation Award

1997 – Winner Advanced Technology Boat Race Canberra – ‘Marjorie K’ prototype.