Last Thursday, Plymstock MP, Gary Streeter welcomed Thales UK to their new UK Maritime Autonomy Centre at Turnchapel Wharf. He also had the pleasure of welcoming Defence Procurement Minister, Stuart Andrew MP, who was in Plymouth to officially open the site.
Digital transformation is one of the most important challenges facing maritime forces today, and only through experimentation with new and disruptive technologies will the UK military be able to stay ahead and maintain operational advantage. Industry has a key role to play in the development of existing and future technological capabilities in this sector.
Continuing the long history Turnchapel Wharf has with the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and industry, the centre will change the way autonomous capability is developed over the next decade by enabling rapid exploration and exploitation of emergent and disruptive technologies.
The waterfront facility will specifically provide access to trials areas for the development of cutting-edge maritime autonomous systems.
Thales has invested £1 million in the facility, with a minimum five-year commitment to developing autonomous systems at the site in Plymouth, with 20 new high-skilled jobs created through its opening.
Gary welcomed this important investment:
"This new centre brings together defence, intellectual capacity, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and a large international player in Thales.
"The work that will take place here in Turnchapel is great news for the local economy but is also important for the development of modern autonomous defence capability which will benefit the whole country and indeed other nations who buy into the technological developments.
"I'm delighted that Thales have chosen to develop this innovative work in Plymouth and look forward to seeing the work which comes out of this new facility."
Victor Chavez, CEO of Thales UK said:
“The unique waterfront location at Turnchapel Wharf will provide access to shallow and deep water trials areas for the development of cutting edge maritime solutions.
“Our ambition is to help anchor a vibrant ecosystem in Plymouth for the development of advanced autonomous systems and we are already working with a range of academic and industry partners to make this a reality.”
Local SMEs, partners and suppliers will take part in initiatives at the facility, while local schools will run STEM activities onsite. The centre will also be available to academia, enabling institutions working in partnership with Thales UK – such as the University of Plymouth, University of Southampton and the National Oceanography Centre – to take advantage of Turnchapel Wharf’s world-class facilities.