Good Company

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Port Security: Diver Detector

Reported here:
In the recent test of a new anti-diver detection system, the diver off the Middletown coast was a Navy volunteer, arriving on schedule and trailing a buoy.

But the adversaries the technology is designed to spot are less cooperative, aiming to deposit explosives by Navy ships and swim off before an explosion kills U.S. sailors and destroys millions of dollars in military equipment.

The United States has discovered al-Qaida diving manuals abroad, and recently the FBI asked dive-shop owners to be alert for terrorists seeking scuba training. Countries considered hostile to the United States, such as Iran and North Korea, have trained divers in their militaries.

“The threat is real,” Ron Carmichael, a Navy systems engineer in Washington, said last week as he observed the system test. “It’s about catching the guy before he gets close enough to do any damage.”

The Coast Guard already deploys similar systems at strategic locations, and Navy ships at foreign ports guard against underwater threats by using radar, sonar and infrared technologies.

But the system being tested in Middletown, by Naval Undersea Warfare Center researchers and 10 military contractors such as DRS Technologies Inc., is the first to employ software that incorporates data from multiple types of sensors.

The goal, Carmichael said, is to reduce false alarms caused by surf, sea mammals and small boats, easing the demands on port patrols while heightening protection against incidents similar to the 2000 attack on the American destroyer Cole, severely damaged while docked in Yemen.
It should be noted that Cole was attacked by a small boat perfectly visible to the crew of its target, not a diver. Such a detection system might prove useful in thwarting attacks by divers driving suicide torpedoes as those such seemingly developed by the Tamil Sea Tigers (see here) as shown in the nearby photos.

For an opinion discounting a pure "diver threat" see here and here for older looks at the diver threat..

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