New Underwater Robotics Award Announced at SUT’s AGM

Gwyn Griffiths MBE

The new Gwyn Griffiths Underwater Robotics Award was one of the announcements made at The Society for Underwater Technology’s (SUT’s) Annual General Meeting by the new President of Council, Judith Patten MBE.

“SUT’s International Panel on Underwater Robotics is honoured to announce the creation of the Gwyn Griffiths Underwater Robotics Award (GGURA). The award recognises people in the early to mid-stages of their career (and under 40 years old) who have made outstanding contributions to their field in underwater robotics. The award may be for industry/commercial, research and/or creative activity in underwater robotics,” she explained.

The winner will receive £500, a certificate and an engraved award.

Neil Bose, Chair of the Panel on Underwater Robotics stated:

“Members of the Panel on Underwater Robotics were excited by Professor Gwyn Griffiths’ generosity in supporting this award and were especially enthusiastic that it should be an early to mid-career award to encourage the up-and-coming generation of underwater robotics workers in their careers.”

Gwyn Griffiths MBE, a Past President of the SUT added:

“As a vibrant, forward-looking learned Society the SUT is at the forefront of encouraging and facilitating international cooperation in Underwater Robotics. From my own career I know that peer-recognition of achievements through an international Award can make a substantial and lasting difference. These have been times for reflection, and by enabling this new Underwater Robotics Award I am delighted to support the innovators of today and tomorrow.”

Nominations or applications for a GGURA must consist of the following documents.

  • A letter of nomination or application that describes how the candidate meets the criteria. Further information can be found by clicking here.
  • The letter should be no more than two pages in length. Supporter(s) of the nomination/ application may add their signature to this letter or supply an email that indicates their support for the candidate
  • A 100-word citation or appraisal of the candidate’s research describing their contributions in a way easily understandable to those outside the discipline
  • A curriculum vitae

All applications/nominations to be received by 14 February 2021

Other awards and announcements made at the AGM

Dr John Partridge of Sonardyne was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the SUT in recognition of his engineering vision and his commitment to supporting the future of the underwater science and technology community. {Note to Editors: the full citation is attached to this release].

Simon Cheeseman, Sector Lead, Wave & Tidal Energy, at the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult was this year’s winner of the Lennard Senior Prize, awarded by SUT’s Marine Renewable Energies Committee (MREC) with its Chairman, Professor John Sharp making the presentation.

Six Members were elected Fellows of the SUT:

  • Gareth Wood – Services to OSIG (Offshore Site Investigation & Geotechnics special interest group)
  • Tim Carrington – Services to OSIG
  • Andrew Benson – Services to OSIG
  • Miguel Pacheco Andrade – Services to OSIG
  • Andrew Hunt – Service to sustainable offshore energy & safety in diving
  • Vahid Walker – Service to North East Branch & support of early career members.

The registration of the first three SUT Chartered Marine Technologists – Tom Bennetts CMarTech and John Houlder CMarTEch both of Sonardyne, and André Rose CMarTech of the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) – was also celebrated.

Finding the Empire Windrush and its iconic anchor

Attendees enjoyed an interesting insight into the life, work and future plans of shipwreck hunter, David Mearns introduced by Immediate Past President, Professor Ralph Rayner. Providing funding is secured David will (giving of his time on a pro bono basis) lead the search for the Empire Windrush, which lies up to 3,000m down at the bottom of the Mediterranean, some 23 nautical miles off the coast of Algeria. The aim is to recover the Empire Windrush’s iconic anchor and bring it back to the UK as an alternative monument to acknowledge the contribution of the Windrush Generation and migration in Britain.

Portions of the meeting including David’s presentation will appear on the SUT’s website shortly at

CEO Steve Hall – Final Update December 2020

Dear members and friends of SUT, this will be my last update as CEO as I stand down after the SUT Annual General Meeting on 14th December.  

There’ll be a short interlude until 1st January when Dr Cheryl Burgess joins as the new CEO, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role that I’m sure will help the Society emerge from the very strange times we’ve all been through in 2020 and into a stronger place, ready to face the challenges of energy transition, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for sustainable development, and much more.  

I’ll continue to be associated with SUT as the new Chair of the International Committee, as Dr David Kirkley stands down after many years of superb service to our growing international community. I’ll also be working with the Defence Special Interest Group on the drafting of a fascinating new white paper on the legal status of armed autonomous underwater vehicles – something that SUT can contribute to policy development in a rapidly changing field. My new day job as CEO at the Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum, which includes Marine Energy Wales and other key projects in the portfolio, will undoubtedly also keep me in contact with many SUT members. Thank you all for your help, support and friendship these last four years.  

A special thanks too for our UK-based staff, Jane, Jacqui, and Emily who’ve all made it possible to run SUT efficiently. Very few organisations with global reach are run with such a small team. Their colleagues employed in Perth and Houston have offered superb support, so I thank Patsy, Araceli, Tricia & Fiona for their efforts too, and the staff who unfortunately we had to let go of during the crisis of 2020 – Cheryl & Lisa in UK, and Jennifer in Perth.  

This week we held our 2020 AGM, ‘virtually’. AGM time is usually where members first encounter the new members of Council. Thanks to all of you who voted in this year’s Council elections, it’s the first time that we’ve used an online voting system and we certainly received a greater number of votes than we’ve seen in previous years. Richard Luff and Iain Knight were re-elected for second terms on Council, and I’m delighted to welcome Nick Swift and Dr M A Atmanand to Council. Nick Chairs our Defence SIG and brings a new dimension of expertise to Council, and Dr Atmanand is an esteemed scientist, former Head of the National Institute of Ocean Technology in Chennai, India. He is a member of the editorial advisory board for our Journal and plays a key part in the UN Global Ocean Decade for Sustainable Development, so like Nick a new kind of talent into Council that will really help grow our Society.  

I’m especially pleased to announce that our very own President-Elect is our dear friend Judith Patten. She was SUT’s first female Fellow and has served our ocean technology community as a champion, a communicator, a facilitator, and advocate for more years than would be polite for me to say. I interviewed Judith for episode 17 of our SUT Underwater Technology Podcast and it’s well worth listening to if you don’t already know her ]    

Thankfully as a Society we continue attract new members, and I’m very pleased to welcome the following organisations to SUT Corporate Membership:

  • OMV Petrom
  • Guernsey Electric
  • Hydrofix
  • Covenant University, Nigeria
  • Strathclyde University, Scotland

Thanks to everyone who’s been encouraging new organisations to join us, and sharing the good word about what SUT can do for you.  

That’s it from me for now, if I don’t get a chance to speak again may I wish you all good health, good business, and a very Happy Christmas and New Year for all who celebrate.

SUT Marine Renewable Energy Scholarship Winner!

Congratulations Eric Gubesch

Eric is a PhD student at University of Tasmania, with a passion for offshore renewable energy. His academic achievements to date have been recognised with awards by IMarEST, RINA and AMC for his undergraduate work on semi-submersible platforms with wave energy converters, while his postgraduate studies focus on the effect that mooring systems have on operational performance and survivability of floating offshore wave energy converters.

Eric aspires to contribute to the development of new technologies for the offshore and subsea renewable energy industries, and is a worthy recipient of the Scholarship.

Thank you to Aurora Offshore Engineering for sponsoring this scholarship

SUT Chris Lawlor Scholarship Winner!

Congratulations Jack Jorgensen

Jack is a first-year PhD student at the University of Western Australia that has just commenced his study of the quantification and propagation of uncertainty through digital twins to predict remnant fatigue life of bolts in ring-flange joints on offshore wind turbine structures.

Commended by faculty for enthusiasm during the framing of his PhD project, Jack has spent a decade working in industry, most recently in research and development for Carnegie Clean Energy. Jack aspires to continue his career in the offshore renewables sector after completing his studies, and is a worthy finalist of the SUT Chris Lawlor Scholarship.

SUT Scholarship Winner!

Congratulations Georgia Nester

Georgia is a PhD student at Curtin University with a strong passion for marine conservation, studying the development of new molecular tools to find cryptic seahorses in seawater using environmental DNV.

Georgia’s PhD project aims to combine underwater sensing technologies to determine marine biodiversity in underrepresented areas and monitor critically endangered species, focussing on the largely unexplored Antarctic, South African and Cape Range Canyon regions.

Commended by faculty for her work ethic and commitment to her studies, Georgia is a worthy winner of the SUT Scholarship.

New SUT Chief Executive Appointed

Dr Cheryl Burgess who joins the SUT in January 2021 as Chief Executive

The Society for Underwater Technology is delighted to announce that Dr Cheryl Burgess will join the SUT as Chief Executive in January 2021, bringing over three decades’ experience in the energy industry including oil & gas (both offshore and onshore); renewables; and utilities. She takes over from Steve Hall who has held the post for the past four years.

Prof Ralph Rayner, President of the SUT said: “We look forward to welcoming Cheryl in January; and in the meantime would like to thank Steve Hall for his sterling service to the SUT and its members and to wish him well for the future.”

The former Director General of the Pipeline Industries Guild, Cheryl Burgess’ extensive international expertise from her years with UK Trade & Investment and the Society of British Gas Industries will bring benefit to the SUT’s international Branches and interests. A strong advocate for organisations she has represented, she is also committed to engaging students, graduates and young professionals in the industries the SUT represents.

“I am very excited to be joining the SUT team,” said Cheryl. “The SUT has wonderful history and is uniquely positioned to capitalise on its Special Interest Groups and Global Branches as we all look to the future of underwater technologies.” Further information at, contact via

Caption: Dr Cheryl Burgess who joins the SUT in January as Chief Executive

Join SUT and MTS to honor our Chartered Marine Technologists

In 2020, the Society for Underwater Technology and the Marine Technology entered into a pilot program to offer the Chartered Marine Technologist (CMarTech) credential. CMarTech is registered by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science, and Technology (IMarEST), which has a Royal Charter from the United Kingdom, to award suitably qualified and experienced applicants the title of Chartered Marine Technologists. In an effort to provide members with an opportunity to advance their professional profile through credentialing, SUT and MTS piloted the program to make the CMarTech credential available through the cooperation of both Societies.
Chartered Marine Technologists are professionals, who harness, exploit, manage, use or apply marine technology in the pursuit of wealth creation and/or the provision of services in the marine sector. They are characterised by their ability to deal with complex issues, both systematically and creatively and can make sound judgments in the absence of complete data to develop solutions to problems and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
SUT and MTS are proud to announce that at the completion of the pilot program, six (6) applicants were successfully registered as Chartered Marine Technologists. 

We invite both the SUT and MTS membership to join us for a special joint award ceremony on Wednesday, 9 December 2020 at 1:30pm EST to honor and commemorate our first class of Chartered Marine Technologists. To join us click here and enter password “MTS”.

SUT and MTS would like to extend our gratitude to all who have worked so hard to launch this program, including our Registrars, Richard Spinrad, CMarSci, and Ralph Rayner, CMarSci; and our Assessors, Justin Manley, Vitad Pradith, Hans van Sumeren, Paul Jubinski, Stephen Hall, Colin Grant, and David Saul.

 Ralph Rayner, SUT President

Zdenka Willis, MTS President