A high performance diver detection sonar is being presented by Sonardyne International Ltd at the Monaco Yacht Show (Stand QS41).

The new Sentinel system has been developed to close the envelope of security around superyachts which, until now, have always been vulnerable to intruders approaching from underwater. With the small, lightweight Sentinel sonar lowered into the water from a boom or through a dedicated hull opening, a yacht’s crew will be alerted to any divers or swimmers approaching the vessel from any direction. The long detection range capabilities of Sentinel mean that should a threat be identified, the crew has sufficient time to assess the situation and react accordingly.

Sentinel has been developed specifically for ease of use by a yacht’s crew and is set to become a vital component of a vessel’s security system. Within minutes of a yacht anchoring or berthing, the Sentinel sonar head can be deployed in the water and activated to ensure complete peace of mind for all on-board.

The Sentinel system that is now available for installation aboard superyachts is based on the same technology chosen by the US Navy for its Integrated Swimmer Defence system. It combines state-of-the-art sonar with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based processing units and automated detection and classification software that has been proved in extensive evaluations.

“It is extraordinary that vessels and shore installations have remained vulnerable to underwater attack for so long. Yachts and ports can be equipped with radar, night vision, armed guards, infra-red CCTV, electric fences and every conceivable device yet they remain fully accessible to any intruder with access to diving equipment. Sentinel now closes that gaping hole in a yacht’s security and offers safety and reassurance to all yacht owners and their guests. It is the first system to combine small size with exceptional performance that comes from having been designed specifically for the task of creating an underwater protective screen around vessels such as superyachts”.

Ross Gooding, business development manager for maritme security at Sonardyne

During proving trials, Sentinel has shown a 100 per cent success rate in detecting targets at long ranges and in differentiating between divers, surface swimmers and non-threats such as pleasure craft, large fish and cetaceans. This high level of performance is attributed to the fact that unlike other diver detection systems, Sentinel is a not a hybrid of an existing sonar. It has been specifically designed to meet the challenge of tracking underwater targets reliably and cost-effectively.

Compact and easily deployed, the Sentinel sonar head is only 30cm in diameter, 40cm high and weighs just 29 kg (65lb). The 360 deg sonar can operate as a stand-alone portable system or can enable multiple heads to be networked together so that very wide areas, such as ports and water-front locations can be monitored. The new system features advanced software for target detection, classification and tracking that removes the need for continuous manual operation. Threat warnings received by the system’s control facility 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.