Today’s oilfields can often be located in dangerous and remote waters, but anti-piracy detection and deterrence technology is being developed today as a fully automated system. During transit or operations, a vessel is at its most vulnerable state in regards to piracy and threats from unidentified vessels. A vessel safety and security system is vital to operations in such areas, where there is no constant armed protection for these types of threats.
Ultra-deep-water drilling operations and their support vessels now have access to a turnkey system of protection in pirate-infested waters. These systems utilize long-range radar, acoustics, and lasers for detection and threat deterrence to enable increased safety for client assets.
The systems are designed to detect, identify, and track threats in waterways where safe operations are critical for protection of the vessel, the environment, and personnel on board. With these automated systems, the vessel safety officers are able to identify a potential threat and track its progression through their established safe zones. With advanced warning and detection, production vessels have ample time to secure operations and ensure that there are no environmental impacts, as well as secure their crew per onboard safety plans.
This protection is critical for operations in high piracy areas off the coasts of Africa, Asia, Singapore and even South America. With this advanced warning system, a ship’s security plan can be put into action quickly before the threat approaches. The ability to remotely operate the system allows the security team to be outside of harm’s way. Even with the vessel locked down, a security team member can operate the system remotely via VSAT or network connection either on board or from a remote beach control center.
The main portions of the systems include capabilities such as:
- Thermal cameras for threat detection at night or in dusk conditions
- Long-range acoustic devices to transmit either a pre-recorded or live message warning, as well as an ear piercing sound that can be used as a deterrent
- Long-range threat detection through radar systems
- Non-lethal laser countermeasures that can be used to deter and temporarily disable a potential pirate’s vision
- Optional AIS integration to aid in vessel identification
On their own, these are powerful components. Once integrated into a seamless advanced alert and detection system, these capabilities allow for an intelligent and user-friendly system that can operate as either a standalone automatic system or as human-operated system allowing for a heightened situational awareness around a vessel.
With these advances in technology, this system will allow for an increase in safe operations in piracy areas where protection and deterrence can save lives, the environment, and the vessels themselves.
Elias V. Basse III is Systems Engineer at MidSouth Technologies