Desert Wolf and Marine Data Solutions install FLIR sensors for Durban’s port


Desert Wolf earlier this month concluded installation of FLIR HRC MS sensors at the port of Durban for Ports Control under contract from Marine Data Solutions as part of efforts to upgrade vessel traffic management at all of South Africa’s major ports.

Hennie Kieser, Managing Director of Desert Wolf Consulting, told defenceWeb that Marine Data Solutions is responsible for the vessel traffic service (VTS) systems in most of the ports around Africa. VTS is a marine traffic monitoring system established by harbour or port authorities, similar to air traffic control for aircraft. Typical VTS systems use radar, closed-circuit television (CCTV), VHF radios and automatic identification system (AIS) to keep track of vessel movements and provide navigational safety in a limited area like a port.

Marine Data works closely with Norwegian company Kongsberg Norcontrol, which supplies vessel traffic service systems. Desert Wolf, as a southern African FLIR government and military distributor, was tasked with installing the first FLIR HRC Multi Sensor (MS) sensor system and integrating with Kongsberg’s vessel tracking and management systems.

The FLIR HRC MS features a high-resolution, cooled (HRC) thermal security camera providing TV-quality thermal video for long range applications, together with long-range video/low-light CCD camera and optional laser rangefinder. The FLIR HRC has a video tracking capability that will automatically follow a vessel.

Kieser told defenceWeb that combining the capability of the Kongsberg VTS with the FLIR HRC thermal and optical capability proved to be a huge success. “With the VTS one has a very clear radar picture of where each vessel is or should be, but no real time video. Integrating the FLIR HRC added the missing video, both day time and at night when things tend to go wrong. Now it is also possible to manage unauthorised movement of very small vessels which previously went undetected.”

Kongsberg partly owns South African company Marine Data Solutions, based in Cape Town, which is upgrading the VTS systems at eight Transnet National Ports Authority ports around South Africa. According to Marine Data Solutions, the VTS Network consists of various sensors such as solid state radar, magnetron radars, thermal imaging CCTV systems and AIS.

In 2003 TNPA signed an extensive maintenance agreement with Marine Data Solutions, with a core part of the agreement being that Marine Data Solutions would be responsible for the VTS upgrade path at all of South Africa’s national ports. This started with the Cape Town VTS in 2005.

Marine Data Solutions has also provided a maritime domain awareness system (MDA) to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), which includes C-Scope technology integrated with satellite and terrestrial AIS systems, covering the entire African coastline as well as South America and Antarctica.

Kongsberg said it has installed VTMIS 5060 vessel traffic management and information systems at South Africa’s ports over the last decade.