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February 14, 2013
RECOGNISED: Doug Cato, of DSTO, proudly displays his 2012 Minister's Award for
Achievement in Defence Science.
Photo: David McClenaghan
CPL Nick Wiseman
MORE than 45 years of listening to
the deep and helping submariners
identify what is out there has result-
ed in the 2012 Minister's Award for
Achievement in Defence Science.
Doug Cato, of Defence Science and
Technology Organisation (DSTO), was
presented with his award by Defence
Science and Personnel Minister
Warren Snowdon for his extensive
research achievements in underwa-
ter acoustics and communication by
"Dr Cato's achievements span the
oceans," Mr Snowdon said.
"They contribute to the efficient
operation of our Navy and safeguard
the well-being of marine animals."
Research conducted by Dr Cato has
contributed to sonar and submarine
studies, allowing submariners to bet-
ter identify what they hear when sub-
His main focus on marine acous-
tics has been the ambient noise of the
ocean from both physical and biologi-
Complementing this is more than
30 years of experience in marine bio-
acoustics, animal communication and
the impact of human-produced noise
on marine animals.
Mr Snowdon said Navy's acoustic
disturbance strategies were recognised
as among the world's best.
"They are based on Dr Cato's thor-
ough research and have been accepted
by NATO naval forces," he said.
"His characterisation of ambient
sea noise in the Australian Indo-Pacific
region known as 'Cato Curves' has
been used to determine sonar perfor-
mance for more than 30 years and
informed the acquisition of the sonar
suite for the AWD program."
Dr Cato said it was great to work
on something that is currently used by
"Some people do science for the
curiosity but for me the fact that some-
one will use what I do is great because
they [Navy] do a fantastic job and a
very important one," he said.
Not expecting the award, Dr Cato
said it was a surprise and an honour to
"You get recognition from the fact
Navy uses what I do and from the
international scientific community for
published works," he said.
"But it was nice to get something
like this on top of that."
IN the 1960s when
Australia did not have
submarines and Doug
Cato needed access to
one to continue some
research, he discovered
the Royal Navy was vis-
were some submarines
around, this young,
perhaps naive, scientist
contacted the subma-
rine squadron com-
mander and asked him
outright if he could bor-
His little knowledge
of the processes at the
time possibly saved him
hours of administrative
work with approval given
to him for half a day's
access to two subma-
rines after an exercise in
the Coral Sea.
"Being quite young
and new to the system
maybe I didn't know
what I was asking," he
"Ten years later I
would never have had
the hide to do that."
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