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News

Pirate attack prevention with holographic radar

Cambridge Consultants : 20 November, 2008  (New Product)
Prevention of pirate attacks on merchant vessels can be achieved with the latest holographic radar technology available from Cambridge Consultants
Pirate attack prevention with holographic radar
A novel application of Cambridge Consultants' holographic radar technology to the MV Powerful and the Sirius Star could have enabled their crews to take early defensive action against the pirates that attacked them this November. With pirates now extending the range of their operations and making more audacious seizures, naval advisers are suggesting that they can no longer guarantee effective protection, and that the vessel owners themselves should adopt their own defensive measures. Cambridge Consultants' holographic radar could provide an early warning of attack and present essential information to support other self-protection measures.

The latest piracy statistics released by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) point to a significant increase in attacks by pirates in the first nine months of 2008. According to a PRC press release, reported acts of piracy committed up to late October 2008 have included 115 vessels boarded, 31 vessels hijacked, and 23 vessels fired upon, seeing a total of 581 crew members taken hostage, nine kidnapped, nine killed and seven missing, presumed dead. The highly publicised seizures in November only highlight further the extent of this threat to the shipping industry.

"Piracy is a significant problem for vessels around the world," explains Gordon Oswald, Technology Director and architect of Cambridge Consultants' holographic radar system. "Recent incidents in and around the relatively well policed Gulf of Aden have highlighted the urgent need for a ship-borne early warning solution. A ship based anti-pirate holographic radar system would acquire continuous information about every target, and if programmed to ignore the clutter caused by waves and the vessel's own wake, for example, would see an incoming attack while there was still time to act."

Holographic radar is a non-scanning, continuously tracking 3D radar that provides persistent illumination of its field of view and can resolve and measure an object's motion at fine scale, as well as its range and direction. It is currently being scaled up for use on wind farms to offer infill coverage for air traffic control and military surveillance radars, but if adapted appropriately for a marine surveillance application and placed at prominent points on a vessel's superstructure, it would enable a crew to detect small boats and take evasive manoeuvres or trigger self-defence mechanisms to repel a pirate attack.

"Current ship-based radar systems are designed to prevent collisions at sea, or to detect threats from the sky," continues Oswald. "They do this by scanning the surveillance zone, emitting a pulsed beam and detecting the reflections from moving objects. This form of radar is simply not suited to close quarters surveillance of an environment that, like the sea, moves and changes shape. Our holographic radar technology is designed for exactly this sort of application."
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