One of the key tasks and responsibilities of the Irish navy is the monitoring of the position and movements of ships in Irish coastal waters and creating a recognised maritime picture (RMP) to support decision-making and navy operations. The required Irish coastal waters RMP covers a total of over 83,000 Square Kilometres (34,000 square miles, four times the size of the entire island of Ireland) using the Irish naval fleet of eight vessels, with support from the Irish Air Corps. Further to this, the extended continental shelf leads to 800 kilometres of the North West coast and incorporates up to 1 million square kilometres of sea.

Figure 1 Outline of current Irish coastal waters

To support the monitoring of such a large area several technologies are employed to support the building of a static recognised maritime picture of vessels positions. Technologies used today are land based technologies such as:

  • AIS
  • VMS
  • LRIT

Each of the above technologies provides independent means of building of the recognised maritime picture of Irish coastal water. Currently the Irish navy is involved in updating their systems for integrating a number of technologies such as AIS and VMS to create a static representation of a recognised maritime picture. Currently the Irish navy and coast guards don’t use satellite based AIS (S-AIS) which is an emerging technology being actively supported by ongoing ESA research and starting to be actively supported by commercial organisations with the launch of development S-AIS satellites which will provide commercial offering of S-AIS data feeds.

Within this project we wish to greatly enhance the quality and accuracy of the recognised maritime picture for the Irish naval services through firstly integration of several additional data sources not currently used to generate an RMP. Proposed sources include Satellite AIS information which will be captured via an Irish deployed satellite receiver, CCTV which is available in major ports and general port and shipping authority data on vessels such as departure/arrival port, purpose of trip, cargo on board etc.

Within this project through the application of state of the art data mining, data analysis and simulations it will be possible to provide for early identification of usual behaviour of vessels and alerting RMP operators for planning of future investigation of these vessels by the INS. The project would be developed as a potential partnership between Skytek (as overall system developer), UCC (Data Mining and RMP expertise), Space Centre Ireland (for satellite receiver infrastructure) and the Irish Navy Services (end user requirements and demonstrator testing).