Maritime securityHAI's systems offering protection from underwater threats

Published 28 November 2007

Critical facilities on or near water may be attacked not only from the air and land, but also stealthily from an enemy approaching underwater; HAI offers products to defend against such attacks; its underwater ROVs may also be used for search and rescue, exploration, and research

Critical infrastructure facilities located near water — ports , power stations, storage facilities — and sea- and water-going vessels can be attacked from the air, from land, from vehicles traveling the surface of the water — but also by enemies approaching stealthily under the water. The defense and safety of our port facilities, nuclear power plants, commercial carriers, and other vessels and facilities that travel or are located on waterways are thus a more demanding task than the protection of a facility located, say, on the sun-baked plains of Kansas. This is where the gear produced by Rochester, New York-based Hydroacoustic, Inc. (HAI) comes in. The company specializes in developing hydroacoustic technologies — specifically: high power, broadband, low frequency underwater acoustic sources — aiming to interdict divers, neutralize swimmers, and offer protection from underwater terrorists.

The company offers several devices which should be on interest to organizations interested in protecting themselves against potential underwater threats. Take the hydroacoustic low frequency (HLF) Air Gun Systems, which can be calibrated to produce a continuous wave or impulse — nonlethal or lethal — signal. HAI Diver Interdiction System is available off-the-shelf and offers shallow-water deterrent system. The company’s Multipulse Air Gun Systems transmit multiple shot signatures which are effective in suppressing reverberation when the situation calls for recognizing a moving target against a cluttered stationary background.

The company also offers Marine Vibrator Units (MVUs) and advanced technology for underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). The Proteus Series belongs in the latter category. The company launched this ROV line in 2006, the the devices are suitable for exploration, surveillance, and protection of underwater environments. The Proteus can be used for a wide range of underwater missions: Law enforcement may use the Proteus for retrieval of small underwater items and rescue and recovery of victims. Homeland security units may use the device for asset security missions such as underwater observation of port facilities and mine hunting. Commercial organizations may use it in underwater commercial projects such as river and lake investigations, inspection of offshore platforms, and historical research and discovery. The system may operate in both salty and fresh water.

One advantage of the Proteus Series ROVs is their relative light weight and small size, making small-boat or small-platform operations possible. Their system uses tether, joystick, and a PC for control, and require no more than one or two individuals for operations. The company points out that the Proteus includes features not typically found in other ROVs:

* At three millimeters, the tether diameter is the smallest in the industry
* The power pack resides on board the ROV, obviating the need to carry electricity through the water. This eliminates the risk of electrical shock to divers and allows operation in remote locations without the need for a generator