MS&D 2009 Hamburg

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The latest surveillance, defence and security equipment is presented by the 60 exhibitors at MS&D 2009, the international conference and exhibition on Maritime Security & Defence (MS&D), to be held at the Hamburg Fair site from 30 September to 2 October 2009. The exhibits include sophisticated optical and acoustic sensors, which have substantially improved the automated monitoring and control technology of security and defence equipment and systems. Thus the exhibiting companies, most of them from the exclusive circle of defence system manufacturers, are contributing to the protection of international shipping.

A trend at MS&D 2009 is unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which fly in fully automated mode and can be used for surveillance. The exhibits by Diehl BGT Defence GmbH & Co. KG include a new unmanned helicopter system called CamCopter. It has a rotor with a diameter of about 3 metres, and is fitted with sensors. Its range is about 50 to 60 kilometres. It is operated from a control station, which can be either on a ship or on shore. This very compact helicopter can land without difficulty even on a corvette, so the manufacturers claim. Its purpose is reconnaissance and surveillance, and it has been tested with success by the German Navy. Diehl also exhibits various development projects such as DAVID, an unmanned autonomous undersea vehicle, and IDAS, a missile which can be fired from submarines and serves for self-defence, e.g. against anti-submarine warfare helicopters.

The Zentrum für Funktionswerkstoffe (Functional Materials Centre) is a non-profit company associated with the Clausthal-Zellerfeld University of Technology, and can draw on the latter’s research resources. It also brings two newly developed surveillance drones to MS&D 2009. The smaller drone is a helicopter design with a rotor span of 1.80 metres; it is ready for series production, and will demonstrate its flying capabilities at MS&D. The larger drone is still at the prototype stage. It has a rotor span of 5.80 metres and will be presented as a full scale model. The drones are designed for reconnaissance, and can if necessary also carry weapons, e.g. for defence against pirate attacks. The drones seek their own target automatically via thermo-cameras. They can stay in the air for half an hour or more. The Centre will also exhibit an innovative fabric which is coated with conductors. Combat dress made of this material needs no cables for power supply for night-vision devices. “A rarity” is how Grishka Düppe, Head of Research and Development, describes a torpedo which can keep its position under water for six months, and is triggered by special acoustic sensors.

The MS&D exhibitors include a number of leading shipyards that have a great deal of experience and expertise in naval shipbuilding. ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems  (TKMS) will show projects including the F125 class frigate. The highlights of this ship includes its extremely long period of deployment in its area of operations (two years rather than the currently usual six to eight months), its reduced manning requirement (only 110 crew rather than 220 or 240 as normally needed for this class of ship), and armament specially designed for combating asymmetric targets and threats. Building of the first four F125s will start in May 2011. The first delivery will be in 2016. Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH, which is a TKMS company and responsible for building submarines with fuel cell propulsion, will show the U-210mod, a submarine design which will undoubtedly attract interest throughout the world. It is specially designed for coastal operations, with displacement as little as 1000 tonnes.

Lürssen are demonstrating their whole range of expertise at MS&D, with a hybrid model. The front of the ship is a naval ship fitted with weapons, while the stern is a superyacht. Fassmer and the Meyer Yachtwerft are represented with special-purpose vessels. The German Navy will present an operations and maritime simulator at MS&D. Fair visitors can get an impression of the tasks of the navy at their stand, for example with a virtual helicopter tour at sea.

Shipowners who want to fit their ships with anti-piracy technology will also find much to interest them at MS&D. Thus Jabsco present their Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD), also known as sonic cannons, a development of the US American Technology Corporation. These are high-powered loudspeakers which can be used for targeted warnings to potential aggressors, even if they are more than a kilometre away. The sonic beam causes pain only at close range. Some cruise vessels are already equipped with these devices. Beluga Shipping, whose freighter MS BBC Trinidad fell into the hands of Somalian pirates in August last year and was released only after payment of a ransom, have tested the LRAD auf on their multi-purpose heavy goods freighter MS Beluga Fantastic. Niels Stolberg, Managing Partner of Beluga Shipping GmbH summarises “We conducted this trial mainly due to recommendation by our German insurer that we should install a defensive protection system.” The ship was not exposed to pirate attack in the six-month trial period. Apart from these warning devices, Jabsco also exhibits 3rd generation low-light amplification systems, which are available exclusively to the professional military and the police. In combination with digital cameras or video cameras, these devices are also capable of night-time surveillance.

Another system designed specially for use against pirates is PITAS (Pirate and Terrorist Aversion System), presented at MS&D by Consist Software Solutions GmbH. The system is designed to use radar, sonar and video monitoring systems, also described as Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), with rapid real-time data evaluation, and an alarm system to reduce the risk of successful attacks by pirates or terrorists.
There are also a large number of marine equipment suppliers at MS&D 2009, showcasing technologies and products which are not in the limelight of security systems, but which are indispensable for functioning of naval vessels and of defence and security systems.

The conference held concurrently with the exhibition will feature high-ranking naval officers and security and defence experts from all parts of the world, who will discuss current security issues such as the threats to international shipping from pirates and terrorists, and general defence issues.


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