Marport Deep Sea Technologies Inc., a leading developer and manufacturer of sonar products for the defense and commercial fisheries markets, announced today that its Board of Directors has unanimously approved a decision to spin off its underwater robotics division. The division will be transferred to a new wholly-owned subsidiary company called Marine Robotics Inc.
By creating Marine Robotics Inc., Marport's senior management is taking steps to separate its sonar and underwater robotics businesses into two distinct private companies. Both companies have unique market opportunities that require a different focus. Marine Robotics Inc., as a separate company, will have greater flexibility and latitude to pursue growth strategies than if it remained as an operating division of Marport.
Karl Kenny, Marport's President & CEO said: "Over the past two years, our business has strengthened considerably. We have made an important acquisition, invested in new products, secured new financing and implemented successful manufacturing, innovation and strategic restructuring processes. As a result we are well-positioned for the future."
"We are pleased with the emergence of Marine Robotics Inc. as an independent developer of Unmanned Maritime Vehicles and Systems. Our innovative efforts in developing award-winning underwater robotics technology have resulted in the development of a highly motivated and talented organization. We expect that this new company will be better able to focus on the needs of its own customers and markets. This should lead to robust growth, enhanced profitability and increased value for our shareholders."
Over the past several years, Marport has built a significant industrial capability in Newfoundland in the design and manufacture of unmanned maritime vehicles. The company has collaborated with Canada's National Research Council, Institute for Ocean Technology and worked with the Autonomous Ocean Systems Laboratory at Memorial University to accomplish this. St. John's is emerging as a centre of expertise in this field and Marine Robotics Inc. will continue to build upon Marport's past contributions to this rapidly emerging industry.
Both companies intend to proceed with business as usual during the transitional period, maintaining existing relationships with employees, customers and suppliers. Marine Robotics Inc. will be headquartered in St. John's, Newfoundland with a sales and support office located in Houston, Texas. The spin-off is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2011.
Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) make up the Unmanned Maritime Vehicles and Systems market segment. Although over 600 AUVs have been produced to date, they are still regarded as a relatively new technology. Considerable investments by manufacturers, research institutes and the military - followed by a number of early commercial deployments - has meant that AUVs are starting to replace and outperform traditional underwater technologies.
Underwater robotics will be an essential technology of the future as human dependence on ocean resources increases. AUVs are already being used for activities such as pipeline inspection, location of objects, seabed surveys and military intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications.
The demand for Unmanned Maritime Vehicles and Systems is high and will continue to increase as military and commercial services augment their fleets of autonomous platforms. The World AUV Market Report 2010 -2019, from business analysts Douglas-Westwood, considers the prospects for this truly market-changing technology and values the future markets for AUVs to 2019. In the most likely scenario, the report forecasts 1,144 AUVs will be required over the next decade - resulting in a total market value of $2.3 billion over the forecast period.
With competition increasing and market dynamics changing, companies invested in unmanned systems will have to be prepared to make adjustments as well. This will include staying ahead of the existing and emerging competition, looking beyond the military for new markets and improving unmanned systems and subsystems to be prepared for more diversified missions. It is expected that those companies prepared for the changing unmanned systems market will ultimately find new opportunities while overcoming challenges.