Page 44: of Marine Technology Magazine (May 2008)

Undersea Defense Edition

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44 MTR May 2008

Fiomarine Industries Pty Ltd. is a small Tasmanian com- pany that specializes in underwater security and retrieval products. Its signature product, the Fiobuoy, was designed specifically to assist the Royal Australian Navy and now supports not only the Australian defence force, but others around the globe. Fiomarine's largest customer is the U.S. Navy, which has recently received its second major order of Fiobuoys - and order that represents a 340% sales growth in less than three years for the com- pany. Currently, the

Fiobuoy is being used to support marine research exercises as well as the oceanographic and hydro- graphic industries. In the future, the offshore oil and gas industry, as well as fish- ing and aquaculture may also benefit.

Fiomarine was created in 1997 to eliminate potential- ly dangerous surface obsta- cles and increase safety in the sea. According to the manu- facturer, Fiobuoy is the world's first submersible marine marker buoy and retrieval system. It is unique in that it combines an acoustic release, a line of retrieval and a marker buoy in one complete system. It allows equipment or assets to be secured and 'hidden' underwater and then safely retrieved. In defence it allows sensitive equipment to be covertly secured under- water and at deeper depths than previously possible. "Our goal is to see the Fiobuoy used in all areas of the marine industry," said John Fiotakis, Fiomarine CEO and

Fiobuoy inventor. "As a security and retrieval tool that improves safety in the sea, hopefully one day the Fiobouy will be a household name." Tethered to underwater equip- ment, Fiobuoy remains 'hidden' underwater and invisible from the surface. Before deployment, a release time and date is programmed into the Fiobuoy via an infrared sig- nal. An acoustic command model is now available, offer- ing on-demand release and greater flexibility in retrieval.

Once the command is received, the Fiobuoy releases itself, unwinding to the surface to complete its marking func- tion. Although Fiomarine supplies mostly to the defense industry, the idea for the Fiobuoy originated out of a boat- ing incident. Fiotakis was on a fishing trip with some mates off the southern coast of Tasmania. They were sail- ing at night when their motors got entangled in five

Crayfish pot lines and sur- face marker buoys. They were able to avert a poten- tially fatal accident and free a motor before the boat crashed onto a cliff face.

The incident got John thinking about how it may have been avoided, and how the buoy could be kept underwater. Once a proto- type was developed, it was tested in the Derwent River and was spotted by some

Royal Australian Navy (RAN) divers in the area who recognized its poten- tial. Fiomarine then collab- orated with the Defence

Science & Technology

Organization (DSTO) to design the Fiobuoy to suit military specifications.

The Fiobuoy was designed specifically to assist the

RAN and now supports defence forces in Australia, the US, Singapore and Japan. The Australian

Hydrographic Service as well as Mine Warfare units have been using Fiomarine's technology for almost 10 years.

Having recently received its second major order of

Fiobuoys, the US Navy is now Fiomarine's largest cus- tomer. "The US took five years to sign the first deal, so this is a big deal for us,” Fiotakis said.

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Fiomarine ‘Buoyed’ by U.S. Navy

Above: US deploying Fiobuoy for mine retrieval exercise.

Below: Fiobuoy in the water

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