Sonardyne International has received a contract from Port Freeport in Texas, USA and its construction partner Cardinal Mechanical L.P, for the supply of a Sentinel Intruder Detection Sonar and a deployment system for a fixed, permanent installation within the port.

The Sentinel Intruder Detection Sonar (IDS) system is able to protect vessels, ports and waterside installations from intrusion by divers, swimmers or surface vehicles, The system uses innovative sonar technology and intelligent software to automatically detect, track and classify an underwater threat at long ranges. The Sentinel system will be integrated into the Port’s new command and control system that fully integrates data from the sonar, cameras and radars to protect shipping and port infrastructure against maritime threats.

The Freeport installation will use a unique trolley deployment system that will be fixed onto a sloping bank. This innovative mechanical design allows the alignment of the sonar head and its easy recovery for maintenance.

“The port required a technical solution that would allow the Sentinel to be permanently deployed but flexible enough to enable simple recovery for cleaning and maintenance, while at the same time remaining cost effective and without the burden of significant overhead costs. Our team has consequently worked very closely with the customer, its engineering consultants, Aperio Engineering and Cardinal Mechanical L.P. This contract represents strong confidence in both the system and in Sonardyne’s ability to deliver innovative solutions coupled with class leading support and it establishes a model for similar installations elsewhere.”

Eric Levitt, Sonardyne’s Business Development Manager for the Americas

“The Sonardyne team was extremely professional throughout the entire process. They brought equipment to the Port to physically demonstrate the system’s capability. Additionally, they displayed a very professional approach to both understanding our contracting requirements and during the design of the deployment system. The Sonardyne solution offered the best return on the investment.”

Rick Benavidez, director of security and safety at the Port

Port Freeport was founded more than 100 years ago since when it has become one of the fastest growing ports on the Gulf Coast. It is strategically positioned on the US intercoastal system and, in terms of foreign tonnage handled, is currently ranked as the 16th largest port in the United States.

Sentinel has already undergone extensive trials with US military programmes and with this contract Port Freeport leads the way for other strategic US ports. It is the first true diver detection sonar system of this type installed and operational in a commercial port and expands the user base and application of Sentinel systems in permanent deployment scenarios.

The Sentinel system is approved within the USA for purchase from the GSA program, schedule No. GS-07F-053.

Sentinel is now acknowledged as a truly original category of underwater threat detection, tracking and classification sonar. Using innovative composite arrays, electronic design and software algorithms, the unit is not only physically smaller than previous generation systems, it operates at considerably lower source levels than more generic hybrids and this removes the potential threat to cetaceans and other marine life. Sentinel was originally demonstrated in October 2007 and delivered to its first customer in May 2008. Sentinel systems are now in operation on every continent where they are able to protect both commercial and military assets, critical energy and civilian infrastructure, VIPs and maritime borders.