Satellites can now detect ships by only their radar pulse

Satellites can now detect ships by only their radar pulse

Vessels"going dark" to avoid detection can still be found when they use radar

Fishing fleets sanctions breaking vessels and other ships that try and hide while at sea can now be detected even if they have their radars on.

 

Satellite AIS company Orbcomm has teamed up with Unseenlabs to enhance its ability to detect vessels at sea.

 

Orbcomm provides satellite detection of shippings’ automatic identification system transmissions, a mandated requirement for all ships that was originally designed as a navigation aid but rapidly became a tool for monitoring shipping globally (for both governance and market purposes). An AIS signal repeatedly transmits a ships identification, position, and other information such as destination and speed.

 

However, while it is illegal to turning off an ship’s AIS signal without due cause (sailing in know waters with pirate activity for example) there have been growing incidents of vessels “going dark” to avoid detection.

 

There have been reports of industrial fishing vessels turning off AIS transmissions to enter restricted fishing areas, as well as vessels that are trading with sanctioned countries to go dark, as well as vessels  seeking to avoid detection while performing illicit ship to ship transfers.

 

US-based Orbcomm has teamed up with European firm Unseenlabs to add the latter’s system to detect radio frequency transmissions in addition to the AIS transmission.

 

“Using its proprietary, on-board RF technology based on the identification of electromagnetic waves emitted by ships, Unseenlabs is able to geolocate any vessel at sea from space, in near-real time and regardless of weather conditions to within a kilometre, from a single nanosatellite,” the company said in a statement recently.

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