VTS & Maritime Surveillance Issues & Solutions


Piracy has become the most important maritime security issue over recent years. The International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur maintains a Map of Piracy and Armed Robbery incidents. Somalia and the Malacca Straits are the coastal areas most commonly associated with Piracy but many ports have also experienced unauthorised boardings of vessels at anchor. Offshore Oil & Gas platforms have also experienced unauthorised boarding by Insurgents / Terrorists, so this is an issue of concern to port, coastal and offshore authorities. The decimation of fishing grounds in the Gulf of Aden by international fishing fleets is often stated as a principle cause of piracy in that area due to the loss of livelihood for the local population and the lack of an effective government to offer alternative employment.

To protect shipping from piracy has proven to be a challenge that is not yet resolved. Increased patrols, increased onboard security and citadels have not yet resolved the issue. The integrated bridge systems of many ships provide excellent facilities for navigation purposes, but these systems are not set up for providing alerts relating to fast moving vessels approaching from behind. The on-board ARPA radar monitors the sea area ahead of the vessel and provides alerts relating to other vessels in close proximity. 360 degree surveillance of the vessel with automatic detection and alerting of incoming vessels may be able to provide a ships crew with an early warning such that measures to dissuade the pirates from boarding can be implemented before boarding commences. This is a topic that needs further debate.