How a new satellite will help fight against smuggling and piracy off the Solent coast

Portsmouth Harbour. Picture: Kieran Gratton
Portsmouth Harbour. Picture: Kieran Gratton
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SMUGGLING, piracy and illegal fishing sea could soon be prevented by a monitoring centre in the city thanks to new satellite technology.

The National Maritime Information Centre (NMIC), based in Portsmouth, is set to get access to sat phone data from a crime-fighting satellite when it is launched.

This will means the centre will be able to pinpoint and possibly intercept criminals on the waves – even if they disable their automatic identification signals.

Set to be built by Horizon Technologies and the Satellite Applications Catapult, the satellite, set to be launched in 2020, will provide information based on electronic emissions through an L-band Satphone detection sensor package.

The three organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding so the British government can get access to the IOD-3 Amber satellite data.

It is hoped this could reduce the number of illegal incidents, including trafficking.

Phil Ponsford from NMIC said: ‘The new data that will be provided by IOD-3 Amber will revolutionise the way we use information from satellites to tackle the full range of maritime security threats to the UK.

‘It has the potential to assist UK agencies in preventing a wide range of illegal activities including smuggling and people trafficking, and I’m sure it will fill a vital information gap in our maritime collection requirement as it comes online.’

Satellite Applications Catapult claims criminal activity in UK waters is on the rise.

Chief executive Stuart Martin said: ‘The IOD-3 Amber satellite exemplifies what can be achieved by a UK organisation with an innovative idea in a market with significant demand and commercial potential.

‘The partnership with NMIC is a key step, as it secures an important customer for the data supplied by IOD-3, ensuring that Horizon Technologies has a bright future supplying data to governments around the world, all from their base in the UK.’

John Beckner, CEO of Horizon Technologies, added: ‘We are delighted to have signed this agreement with NMIC to supply our new data set to the UK government.

‘Around the world, governments and law enforcement agencies are dealing with a dramatic increase in crime at sea, and our service will give the UK a new and powerful source of information to detect and take action against this type of illegal activity.’