Technology to combat High Seas piracy


Engineers at BAE Systems have developed an electronic early warning system aimed at combating soaring levels of piracy on the high seas and plan to trials it at sea in partnership with shipowners within the first three months of next year.



The company is also working with the maritime industry to assess the commercial requirement in order to create “the most effective solution” to this increasing threat to maritime security, BAE Systems says in a media statement.


The shipowners were not identified.


The release says the team at BAE Systems has used its expertise in the defence, security and aerospace sectors to develop a suite of technology that enables a crew to detect a ship and identify suspicious activity at distances of up to 25km, long before pirate vessels become a threat.


The early warning system gives the crew the vital time needed to take evasive action or alert navies to the danger.


Nick Stoppard, BAE Systems Director of Solutions Development, says there is “a clear need for better methods to help commercial ships identify and evade pirates before an attack occurs. We have used our expertise in security engineering, technical analysis, systems design and integration to develop a layered defence system to improve the safety and security of ships and their crew.


"This technology is just one aspect of work that we are undertaking across BAE Systems to address emerging global security issues."


The system draws on a range of current capabilities developed by BAE Systems and includes

  • High Frequency Surface Wave Radar to detect small boats well beyond the horizon at up to 25km;

  • Panoramic Area Surveillance System 360° video camera and display system to provide visual identification. It includes movement detection and threat level alarms, with plans to incorporate infra-red;

  • Passive Radar Identification System (PRISM) to provide early warning of an unidentified radar carrying vessel; and

  • Improved lighting to increase the likelihood of detecting intruders within the immediate vicinity of the ship at night and act as a deterrent.


A prototype will be trialled at sea early net year.


Meanwhile, BAE Systems has also announced it acquired VT Group’s 45% shareholding in BVT Surface Fleet Limited on October 30. The business is now wholly owned by BAE Systems and has been renamed BAE Systems Surface Ships Limited.


Nigel Whitehead, BAE Systems’ Group Managing Director, Programmes & Support, says bringing “BVT into full ownership of BAE Systems further strengthens our global maritime business and is consistent with our strategy to establish a sustainable and profitable through life business in air, land and sea. Surface Ships has a solid order book, a clear strategy to transform the UK maritime sector and a commitment to deliver existing and future programmes.


"Our 15 year Terms-of-Business Agreement with the UK Ministry of Defence will sustain key industry capabilities in the UK and provides a strong platform on which to build future domestic and international business."