23 June 2009, TANGO Maritime Surveillance demonstration in CROSSMED, Toulon, France
The Maritime Surveillance demonstration of the TANGO project has taken place on 23 June 2009 in the French Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) for the Mediterranean sea, known as CROSSMED. It is located in Toulon, in a region known for its naval base, shipyards and its beautiful beaches.
       

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The demonstration combines a presentation of historical data and a workshop with near realtime acquisition and analysis, related to ship and oilspill detection. The objectives are to summarize the use of satellite technologies for telecommunications and observation, and highlight areas where TANGO could contribute in improving access to time-critical data.


Missions of the states at sea supported by TANGO

 

While the national organizations may vary from one state to another, the EU Member States have in common to cover the following missions at sea:

* Vessel traffic management
* Search and Rescue and safety at sea
* Security and surveillance of illegal activities
* Marine Environmental protection
* Fisheries monitoring
* Broadcast of information to seafarers


These maritime missions for safety and security have to be efficient at a regional scale (most of search and rescue operations are issued by small boats, sailing close to the coast) and in the high seas, as shown in recent piracy attacks in the Indian Ocean. These missions are demanding always greater capacities in satellite systems, in particular for sea surface observation and detection of ships by radar satellites.


Why choosing the Mediterranean sea for the TANGO demonstration?


The vessel traffic in the Med sea is one of the most crowded in the world. According to 2006 REMPEC figures, 15% of the port movements in the world are in the Mediterranean ports and more than 13,000 merchant ships are passing every year, including 4,000 tankers. The Mediterranean coasts are also places with high densities of population and ecologically sensitive areas. A pollution may rapidly affect fragile ecosystems and hundreds of thousands people. The Mediterranean sea also faces sensitive border protection issues.


Actors involved and audience

The TANGO maritime surveillance demonstration is coordinated by CLS, Collecte Localisation Satellites, company specialized in ship tracking by satellite, and environmental observation. Also involved in the demonstration are the EUSC (European Union Space Centre), which has performed some of the satellite image analysis, and TNO, the Dutch marine security research centre

 

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For the demonstration on 23 June in CROSSMED, the audience is composed of about 25 people representing various governmental services. The exercise is monitored by the French Affaires Maritimes CROSSMED officers. In the audience, we find the Prefecture Maritime, which coordinate the state action at sea and may prosecute a polluter or instance, the French navy Operation commander for the Med sea, with search-and-rescue and police specialists, the French customs air patrol involved in pollution watch, and the European agency FRONTEX, specialized in border surveillance. A superintendent of the company Louis Dreyfus Armateurs is present to represent the point of view of the shipping industry.

 

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The TANGO ship tracking scenario


The scenario invented for the exercise is the following: a governmental agency has to perform several types of tasks. It relies on one or two GMES Service providers (CLS and EUSC, based in France and Spain) for the analysis of data and uses the THEMIS software system to merge all data in one map. The sequence of tasks is the following one:

1.Routine tasks such as vessel traffic and pollution monitoring. The vessel traffic tracking usually relies on governmental infrastructure like coastal radars and AIS receive stations connected to a single point, generally not using satellite telecommunications. TNO demonstrates the use of combined realtime coastal surveillance on which the Louis Dreyfus ship tracks have been observed:

 

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2. As part of routine tasks to monitor the traffic lanes in long distance, the agency acquires low resolution/wide coverage satellite radar scenes from Envisat and ERS2, two satellites from the European Space Agency. This part of the exercise has last from 1st March to 1st June 2009.

 

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3.On the 31st May 2009, the agency is informed by another intelligence agency that a suspicious boat (a sailboat fitted with a satellite transponder) has been detected while stopping in the English Channel, maybe for a rendez-vous at sea. The agency needs to identify all ships in the vicinity, using available technologies. The agency accesses to LRIT (Long Range Identification & Tracking) position reports, under its Coastal State profile. In pre-defined LRIT custom coastal areas, the agency receives a list of ships position reports. The agency starts tracking a merchant ship of interest. The agency asks CLS to program high resolution satellite radar scenes from Radarsat2, in order to confirm that the LRIT position report corresponds to the ship. The scenes allow to detect a 160-meter long ship (ship identification is not possible):



 

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 4. On the 1st June 2009, the agency starts its annual “clean coast” campaign, and increases the level of surveillance of the potential pollutions. The agency asks the GMES Service Provider (i.e. CLS) for some high resolution ENVISAT and Radarsat2 satellite images .

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Specific added-value of TANGO

 

The first advantage of TANGO is to give access to a catalogue of various satellite solutions to solve every mission. In this present exercise, TANGO would have helped in choosing to technology to track the boats and the merchant ships.

 

Few high data rate satellite telecoms were used. Unlike the other demonstration supported by TANGO, the Maritime Surveillance exercise relies on existing telecommunication infrastructure: 

 

- In the Netherlands, the ships were tracked by TNO, using radar and AIS, and the AIS data were sent to CLS via FTP for integration into THEMIS. Satellite communications could be useful to do that if the AIS antenna is located in a remote area.
- In second half of 2009, the merchant ships will start using a new mandatory ship tracking system, called LRIT. CLS will be the operator of the European LRIT data Centre which will track all EU ships on a global scale, and other ships within European regions. CLS has installed 2 THORIUM LRIT transponders, based on the IRIDIUM global constellation, on 2 voluntary ships from Louis Dreyfus Armateurs. These ships operate between the AIRBUS factories to carry the Airbus A380 components. The THORIUM LRIT transponders are providing position reports every 6 hours, sometimes every 1 hour or every 15 minutes, during all the duration of the exercises.
- In addition, we were expecting to use prototype Satellite-AIS data, supplied by LUXSPACE. We presented some data samples obtained via the MARISS project in January 2009, the period covered did not fit in our scenario.
- The data links between the Envisat, ERS, Radarsat2 and the GMES Service Providers are using terrestrial networks. Should a similar scenario takes place in non European regions, satellite telecommunications could have been used between data providers and GMES service providers  (broadband access through fixed satellite networks or BGAN,) or to improve fast access to satellite imagery through geostationary data relay.



  
Acknowledgments

 

The TANGO partners (in particular Astrium, CLS, EUSC and TNO) wish to thank the French Affaires Maritimes and especially the personnel of CROSS MED in Toulon for their participation. CLS also thank the company Louis Dreyfus Armateurs for providing 2 volunteer ships for the LRIT tracking exercise. All the SAR radar scenes were acquired through specific contracts (Category 1) with ESA and MDA and are protected, not for commercial use.