The importance of Maritime Surveillance was starkly brought into focus by the 26/11/2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Since then, a number of measures have been undertaken to secure our coast line. However, much remains to be done to have a truly comprehensive maritime surveillance system. The primary aim of a Maritime surveillance system is to improve safety, efficiency and security of maritime transportation by providing optimal situational awareness. Such solutions have various components which may be integrated to provide a better overview. A comprehensive maritime surveillance system uses dynamic architectures and core technologies to seamlessly integrate multiple data sources such as AIS, Radar, CCTV, Communications, satellite and legacy systems across extended networks. This is complemented by intelligent data analytics, target visualisation and display, and integrated command and control logistics to deliver a fully integrated maritime surveillance, command and control system. Such a system provides a range of functionality that significantly enhance the maritime surveillance, command and control capabilities of national security agencies such as Coast Guard and Navy, with the added benefit of built-in ancillary functionality accessible via special secure system interfaces for other national maritime agencies such as fisheries, environment agencies and infrastructure operators. Coastal surveillance systems provide both Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) as well as security surveillance. With increasing amounts of coastline, territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to be managed for Safety, Security and Environmental protection, the ideal coastal maritime surveillance system will put together a real-time traffic Image and highlight vessels of interest. Such systems are generally automated to a great extent to reduce operator stress. It is essential that operator stress is maintained at optimal levels. A reduced workload may lead to boredom, which is often seen in low traffic areas. In such cases, expansion of operator duties and coverage areas could be a solution. On the other hand, excessively high stress due to unrelenting heavy workload can be dangerous to navigation as well as to the personal health of the operator. Mitigating techniques such as short duty shifts, and rotation of duties between operators can help to keep stress at bay. A VTS system integrated with an AIS network helps to ensure the safety and efficiency of ships through high risk areas such as Traffic Separation Schemes (TSS), wind farms, offshore oilfields and restricted areas. It is advisable that these systems should comply with IALA VTS recommendations. Ship information should be captured quickly and efficiently, while assessing risk in real time. Potential threats to the environment through pollution from vessels, groundings and oil spills should be detected, monitored and reduced. Search and rescue (SAR) services can also be co-ordinated through 34 Marine Engineers Review (India) www.imare.in | April 2017 maritime surveillance systems. Coastal Surveillance systems provide detection, classification and identification of friendly or enemy vessels so that response teams can be alerted well in time. Interception of any threat can be co-ordinated from these systems. Also, they can be used to prevent legitimate vessels from mistakenly entering prohibited or dangerous areas and the vessels can be safely-guided to their destinations. Such systems can also be used by policing agencies to prevent smuggling, human and drug trafficking, or any such illegal activities. Oil spill response activities such as spill clearance and containment operations can be directed. Ports can also benefit from dedicated surveillance systems, which help in managing the marine traffic in and out of the port. Apart from improving port security, these systems also help in managing marine risk. Causes of delays in port movements can be identified and rectified. Utilization of port resources like tugs and pilots can be put to optimal use through the efficient management of port traffic. Information management systems can be set up to store and organise the huge amounts of data being collected on a daily basis by the maritime surveillance system. This data can be analysed and distributed on a need-to-know basis, to various stakeholders via web enabled services. The information can also be replayed for investigation and accident studies. Offshore fields whether they are oil and gas installations or offshore windfarms can be provided early warning systems which indicate threats from approaching vessels. Automatic warnings can be sent from the offshore surveillance systems to vessels unwittingly entering the restricted zone. Some surveillance systems also have diver detection, small craft and underwater craft detection to ensure security of the high value offshore assets. Inland waterways provide a unique challenge to navigation because of the dynamic nature of the surveillance area. Maritime surveillance systems for inland waterways require highly accurate position information. To support such a system, radar detection and tracking, AIS coverage, inputs from other sensors must be of a high quality. Multiple sensors and track data sources should be integrated for efficient navigation of the vessel within inland waterways. In conclusion, it may be said that maritime surveillance solutions improve safety, efficiency and security of marine traffic. Areas of high traffic density, traffic separation schemes and countries having large maritime domains benefit immensely from surveillance systems which promote safe, secure and incident-free navigation. They also go a long way in safeguarding tremendous maritime assets of a nation.
Author: CEO, Zetnor International. This article appeared in the April 2017 edition of Marine Engineers Review India.