Royal Navy extends Airbus contract for Satellite marine surveillance

HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth, UK.
HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth, UK.

The Royal Navy (RN) has awarded Airbus a 12month extension on a contract to carry out satellite based maritime surveillance for the Joint Maritime Security Centre (JMSC).

The system uses a combination of optical and radar imaging as well as Automatic Identification System (AIS) data to provide reports about vessels within the UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), as well as information to help in the prevention of illegal activities such as smuggling of goods and people.

Airbus has successfully demonstrated its proof of concept for the systems which has led to the contract extension which includes: ‘Vessel Detection Reports using SAR data analysis, either delivered in emergency mode for urgently required satellite tasking to monitor suspicious vessels of interest across the globe, or on a twice daily basis for general vessel identification as well as the classification of ‘dark’ vessels in key areas of interest.’

Airbus will also use the Defence Site Monitoring service, which uses automated algorithms applied to optical imagery, to detect, recognise and identify vessels as well as port activity. The system will then raise alerts whenever abnormal activity occurs.

Airbus says that the surveillance services will: “give JMSC a greater understanding of the various activities across UK waters, especially with a focus on potentially uncooperative vessels, helping to better address security challenges and allowing resources to be rapidly deployed to intercept.”