The convergence of a number of contemporary technologies with increasing demands for improvements in inspection capabilities in maritime applications has created new opportunities for ultrasonic inspection. An automated ultrasonic inspection and data collection system APHIUS (automated pressure hull intelligent ultrasonic system), incorporates hardware and software developments to meet specific requirements for the maritime vessels, in particular, submarines in the Canadian Navy. Housed within a hardened portable computer chassis, instrumentation for digital ultrasonic data acquisition and transducer position measurement provide new capabilities that meet more demanding requirements for inspection of the aging submarine fleet. Digital data acquisition enables a number of new important capabilites including archiving of the complete inspection session, interpretation assistance through imaging, and automated interpretation using artificial intelligence methods. With this new reliable inspection system, in conjunction with a complementary study of the significance of real defect type and location, comprehensive new criteria can be generated which will eliminate unnecessary defect removal. As a consequence, cost savings will be realized through shortened submarine refit schedules.