A Sentinel diver detection sonar has been sold to the unnamed owner of a prominent superyacht.

The buyer is a head of state whose personal security will benefit from the Sentinel’s ability to detect divers and swimmers approaching the vessel from any direction. The sale is expected to be the first of many into a market where security is given the highest importance.

The new Sentinel system has been developed by Sonardyne International Ltd (Monaco Yacht Show, Stand No. QS41) to finally close the envelope of security around ships and shore installations. Despite the use of sophisticated detection technologies above the water, ships and ports have always been vulnerable to intruders approaching from beneath the surface. This vulnerability can now be eliminated by Sentinel which uses advanced sonar technology to provide a 360 degree, below water protection zone that can discriminate between genuine targets such as divers and swimmers and non-threats such as large fish or pleasure craft. The small size of the Sentinel sonar head makes the system’s use a realistic proposition in a variety of applications. It has been designed specifically for ease of use by inexperienced personnel and to meet the practical requirements of every day use. These attributes are now expected to attract buyers from many sectors of the maritime secuirty industry, the armed forces and civil administrations.

A Sonardyne Sentinel is deployed by lowering the compact sonar head into the water from a boom or through a dedicated hull opening. It can also be mounted on a seabed frame to create a permanent installation for monitoring a port entrance, for example. When coverage of larger areas is necessary, up to 10 Sentinel heads can be integrated and they will alert security personnel if any divers come within an 800 metre radius of a sensor. The system can be further expanded to allow ‘friendly divers’ to wear small wrist transponders so that they can be easily tracked whilst underwater. This provides a further level of personal protection for owners and their security detail

Successful trials have included operations in tropical and temperate sea water. These have included crowded acoustic environments and locations where Sentinel’s ability to differentiate between intruders and large fish has been an important benefit. This capability reduces workload for monitoring crews and minimises the likelihood of false alarms.

The Sentinel sonar head measures only 30cm in diameter, 40cm high and weighs just 29 kg (65lb) enabling it to be stowed in a small deck locker and then deployed by just one person.

The new system features intelligent automatic target detection, classification and tracking software that removes the need for continuous manual operation. Threat warnings received by the system can be automatically forwarded by text message, internet or pre-recorded voice message to key personnel anywhere in the world.

Sonardyne International Ltd is recognised as a world leader in the design and manufacture of subsea acoustic navigation, communication and telemetry systems for use by the military, offshore oil and gas industries and the international scientific community. The company has headquarters in Yateley, England, with additional facilities in the Far East, USA and South America. For more information visit www.sonardyne.com .