A former Naval electrical engineering officer is the winner of the inaugural Maritime Advancement Award, sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton in conjunction with the Centre for Maritime Policy at the University of Wollongong. During the closing ceremony of the Sea Power 2006 Conference yesterday, President of the Australian Naval Institute Commodore James Goldrick presented the award to Mr Christopher Skinner, who had a distinguished career in the RAN from 1959 to 1989, including service in Vietnam aboard HMAS Hobart. For his outstanding analysis of the costs and benefits to Australia of the Collins Class submarine project, Mr Skinner has been awarded a two-year research or development grant worth $12,000. Mr Skinner's project was conceived as a means to deliver the next generation of conventional submarines to follow the successful Oberon Class as they were retired, and to embody the best of sensors, weapons and their control systems, propulsion and platform systems for the Collins Class submarines. The Maritime Advancement Award goes to the most promising research or development proposal from anyone working in the field of maritime endeavour including science, maritime law and policy, defence, commerce, shipbuilding or maritime industry. The judges agreed that Mr Skinner's project would bring new understanding of the impact of the submarine project upon the Australian economy and highlight key lessons about the significance of such activities for national development as well as for the future.