Defence R&D Canada (DRDC) has recently led an international surveillance trial off the coast of Nova Scotia. The purpose of the Maritime Sensor Integration Experiment (MARSIE) was to collect data from multiple existing and experimental sensors that could be used to contribute to the surveillance of Canada’s coastlines. This was one of the largest surveillance trials ever carried out in Canada. Several departments and agencies with responsibilities for marine security for the Government of Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom were involved in tracking a barrel representing contraband as it traveled from Liverpool (U.K.) to Chedabucto Bay, Nova Scotia (Canada).
In the trial, the “contraband” was placed on a container ship that left Liverpool and travelled across the Atlantic Ocean. It was dumped off the coast of Newfoundland where it was collected by a fishing trawler. The trawler then transported the “contraband” to Nova Scotia and handed it off to a smaller, shore-bound craft in Chedabucto Bay. The exercise was carried out three times while being observed by a multitude of land-based surveillance sensors, several marine vessels and patrol aircraft, including an experimental uninhabited aircraft vehicle (UAV).
One of the elements of the surveillance system - the Stealth Buoy is intended to allow the deployment of an active/passive acoustics capability in littoral waters well in advance of intended operations. The buoy is designed to sink and lie on the ocean bottom until a preset time, or until a “tripwire” event occurs at which time the buoy becomes positively buoyant and rises to the surface. Besides the capability of variable buoyancy, the buoy has a GPS to calculate its exact position, an IRIDIUM satellite modem to send data and to accept taskings from a remote controller, as well as a suite of acoustics and non-acoustics sensors. It can be used in an extensive range of applications from playing a role in a multi-static sonar scenario, to long term monitoring for marine mammals or specific types of surface traffic. The buoy is designed to have a life of weeks or even months, and can complete many cycles of bottom-to-surface activity.The other element – the SLOCUM Glider is a self-propelled underwater gliding vehicle designed by the Webb Research Corporation of Falmouth (Massachusetts). It can support a wide range of acoustics and non-acoustics sensors, and can carry out volume surveillance in littoral waters for up to two months between battery changes; during this period it can travel up to 2,000 km. The glider has been fitted with both IRIDIUM satellite modem, and with a Benthos underwater acoustics modem. The SLOCUM glider is well suited to act as a “gateway” between submerged surveillance systems and a satellite link to a distant controller, to carry out reconnaissance in advance of fleet operations or, as a “pack” of gliders, to conduct long term area surveillance, such as might be needed on one of the fishing banks. More details can be found on the Underwater Sensing and Countermeasures fact sheet.