- Technology - What do you think of forward looking sonar systems?

By SuperyachtNews

What do you think of forward looking sonar systems?

The Superyacht Agency is researching the market's perception and application of forward looking sonar systems, and we welcome your feedback…

Safe navigation is mostly about not hitting things. The rules of the road should cover the collision avoidance with other vessels, but by far the most pressing danger to vessels is grounding. Even as the fleet is transitioning to electronic charts, these are still an imperfect representation of what lies beneath. There is no substitute for real-time data. In much the same way that one will navigate off visual bearings and radar reading over the GPS position on a chart, yachts should know what is under the keel. 

Knowing what is below the boat only when it is below the boat is too late also, which is where the advent of the forward-looking sonar has found its application. These systems have wide applications in the commercial sector for asset evaluation, collision avoidance and security, but they are still not considered integral to the superyacht sector. 

As any yacht operating in the Pacific will tell you, there are still many areas of the world that rely on antiquated chart data. Inching through a coral bommie strewn lagoon with inaccurate charts is nerve-wracking, and a strangely analogue way to navigate a state of the art vessel. Safe and ecologically conscientious anchoring practices are another benefit of a vessel increasing its situational awareness with respect to the seafloor. 

The technology has come a long way, and the resolution and ranges have extended such that relatively high-speed manoeuvring can be done with an added level of safety. Why then, as the fleet moves further afield and into these regions of low chart detail and resolution, are forward-looking sonar systems not applied as standard? 

The insurance considerations for exploration mined vessels are a significant factor. So too must be the process of integrating these systems into a build, or retrofitting them into a refit. Are management companies more comfortable knowing that a vessel has one installed, and crucially, that the crew know how to use it? At what point in the decision-making point on a new build or refit would the integration of one of these systems be considered?

The Superyacht Agency is conducting a wide-ranging survey on the market's perception of forward-looking sonar systems, and their potential application and limitations across the superyacht fleet. We are actively engaging with crew, shipyards, designers, insurers and the wider market.  Please see the below survey, or alternatively here, if you would like to provide your feedback;



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