Thursday, March 10, 2005

Terrorist on the Sonar

A friend of mine was recently contracted to help a sonar manufacturer sell their equipment to another NATO Navy.

The sonar in question is a new type, designed to protect warships at anchor from attack by terrorist swimmers.

(There was a big brouhaha in the here a few years ago, with talk of dive training agencies being asked by the intelligence services to report suspicious foreigners who had had training courses in a combination of rebreathers (typically used by naval attack divers as the leave no tell-tale bubbles), underwater scooters (cover more distance) and use of underwater explosives ..... so this topic is obviously all the rage in defence circles. As it happens, I have an Irish background, certification in two of the above and had been invited to join a "bang course", I was expecting a visit at any time :-) )

My friend is a highly experienced rebreather diver, so was the perfect man for the job of test dummy.

He was to swim across the harbour, past the sonar installation, to enable the manufacturers to demonstrate to the client that yes indeed, the equipment can detect a swimmer.

But of course, the whole thing was a con.

He was given strict instructions to swim in such a way that the equipment could actually detect him!

Specific speed and direction, a certain distance from the seabed etc. etc. Otherwise the sonar would not work.

Is this typical of the way defence systems are procured, with our hard-earned tax money?

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