Tuesday, January 29, 2013

MoD Appeal to Freight and Other Shipping Interests for Maritime Crime Fighting Ideas

You Have Time to Make a Difference to Ocean Security
Shipping News Feature

UK – In an innovative move the Ministry of Defence has launched an appeal to the freight industry and others to come up with new ideas to help combat illegal activities such as gun-running, people-smuggling and piracy. This is no sop to the shipping sector which has suffered so grievously from the scourge of pirates in the past few years but rather a genuine request for assistance in several areas.

The MOD’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE), which is part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is seeking proof-of-concept research proposals from industry and academia to improve the security of maritime operations. Areas of interest include:

1) The determination of unlawful activity at sea by developing breakthroughs in the way that activities such as piracy or the transportation of weapons can be detected when unlawful craft and lawful craft look very similar.

2) The response to hostile activity at sea by developing new technology, and other solutions, that can provide a graduated range of responses, particularly non-lethal and non-destructive means, when interdicting craft that are carrying out unlawful activities.

3) Small arms accuracy at sea by developing new tools, such as effective training aids, that are representative of small arms operations on maritime platforms and can provide the feedback on marksmanship accuracy needed to develop performance.

Hostile activity can be difficult to detect in busy and congested waters where it is hard to identify and stop the few illegal operations out of the vast number of legitimate civilian activities and the Ministry points out that Britain’s trade, and indeed overall, security is threatened by the criminal activities which include not only piracy and ransom but weapons and people smuggling activities making the task of policing such vast areas a near impossibility for agencies such as Maritime Constabulary Operations and Maritime Security Operations.

The purpose of CDE is to obtain and initiate courses of action sourced from the broadest possible range of science and technology providers to enable development of cost-effective capability advantage for UK Armed Forces and national security whilst successful proposals from a previous maritime-related CDE call, ‘Innovation in Technology for Unmanned Maritime Systems’, have been funded with academia and industry, including small and medium-sized enterprises.

These aim to demonstrate solutions for everything from novel technology for the safe and quick recovery of unmanned systems to technology that can reduce the drag of unmanned systems using micro vortex generators or autonomously power an unmanned system using the energy from ocean waves.

This latest call for proposals will close on Monday 25 February 2013 at 5:00pm. Interested parties can check out the relevant links HERE and also register at the MOD's Science and Technology website for an online ‘webinar’ on 5 February to participate in a summary of the call and a Q&A session.

Photo: A boarding team from HMS Montrose confiscates suspected pirates' gear in the Indian Ocean [Picture: Petty Officer (Photographer) Terry Seward, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]