Sea Sentinels Protect Ports from Terrorism
SeaAway have designed what they call a Sea Sentinel to better protect our ports against terrorist attacks.
Defense and security has come a long way in recent years, with tragic events like Sept 9/11 the public has seen a sharp increase in security measures worldwide. Now a Florida based start-up dubbed SeaAway (no relation to Segway) has turned their attention to making our ports a lot safer and guarding against terrorist attacks.
To security experts, the immense cargo ships that ferry more than 11 million containers into this country annually are potential Trojan horses each one could easily harbor a WMD (weapons of Mass Destruction), such as a dirty bomb. At present, only once the ships have been unloaded is their cargo subjected to random inspections and radiation scans. This method is outdated and well overdue for an upgrade!
SeaAway has developed a security system that would move cargo screening 14 miles offshore to the safety of the open seas. The plan calls for pairs of 100-foot-wide platforms anchored outside the world’s major ports. Equipped with an array of unmanned surveillance drones and sensors such as RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification), the system monitors for chemical, biological and nuclear traces as ships travel between the platforms. If the sensor flags a suspicious container the Coast Guard is called into action. Robots have played a vital role in the War on Terror as we have seen from our previous posts.
How it Sea Sentinels Work:
SeaAway Sea Sentinal
Floating platforms called Sea Sentinels anchored to the seafloor will include a command center, living quarters for a 15-person crew, a helipad, docking space, and a hangar for unmanned aerial vehicles used in wider surveillance. The facilities will also include space for oceanographic research equipment and laboratories.
Ships move between the two large platforms at about 10 knots as antennas read wireless signals emitted by radio-frequency identification, or RFID, tags affixed to each cargo container. Today’s transponders can report signs of tampering by detecting when doors open and close after departure inspection, and next-generation sensors will use gas chromatography and other technologies to sniff for radiation, explosives residues, and signs of human cargo, such as urine.
- Sea Handlers:
If sensors flag a suspicious container, officials call the Coast Guard, which could use SeaAway’s special ship, called a Sea Handler, to retrieve the cargo. The craft relies on suction devices to mate with the ship while a crane transfers the cargo to the Sea Handler’s blast-containment chamber. In nuclear or other worst-case scenarios, the submerged chamber can minimize exposure and damage.
- Hull Scan:
Underwater vehicles use cameras to scan hulls for obvious signs of damage or tampering. For subtler inspections, officials rely on sonar devices mounted to the platforms. These record a hull’s acoustic profile and compare the measurements against baseline signatures, stored for all ships.
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