Gerald Howarth, shadow defence minister and MP for Aldershot, was given a thorough briefing on the technology of underwater terrorist detection when he visited Sonardyne International Ltd in Yateley today (Friday 11th December).

This privately owned British company has become a world leader in the detection of underwater intruders and is achieving important sales for its Sentinel sonar system to civil and military customers around the world.

During his tour of the factory, Mr Howarth also saw the manufacture of the advanced acoustic positioning and navigation products that the company supplies to the offshore oil and gas industry. These include systems that use acoustic signals to enable oil rigs to be precisely positioned over a seabed location far below. Similar technology is also employed by Sonardyne so that remotely controlled underwater vehicles can be tracked in deep ocean. High precision gyroscopes and motion sensors are also used by Sonardyne in the manufacture of navigation systems that enable unmanned submarines to navigate by themselves.

“We are increasingly looking at defence and security in the same overall package these days and what Sonardyne has here provides a serious advantage. The company is demonstrating the critical contribution that high tech manufacturing industry can make to our economy. It is a world leader in the oil and gas industry and looks likely to play an increasing role in defence. I also hope that local people can appreciate that they have a world-leading high tech company in their area.”

Mr Howarth

A major feature of the factory tour was the opportunity to see the giant test tanks that are used by Sonardyne engineers in the development of new products and for testing the performance of manufactured equipment. The tanks have been designed to replicate the acoustics of the ocean so that products can be tested in a situation that will match the environment in which they will be used.