Overcome navigation challenges with the prospective sonar


Every ship needs protection from the unknown. There are many potential dangers undetectable with traditional navigation tools. FarSounder Argos technology is a solution to fill the gap where other technologies are insufficient. The company is addressing the reality of these limitations to meet the navigation needs of all types of vessels.

The goal of the marine navigation technology industry is to find new ways to improve situational awareness to keep ships safe. An innovative technology developed specifically for this purpose is the Argos prospective real-time 3D sonar. For many sailors, incorporating this type of advanced and proven technology into their workflow is a top priority.

A variety of technologies can help minimize the navigation challenges that all ships face. Some of the biggest problems are that standard navigation technologies can often be unreliable, including GPS technology. Another is that map data is often inaccurate or patchy thanks to mother nature and the vastness of our oceans and waterways.

GPS may seem like an unlikely threat to safety given its integration into day-to-day navigation operations. However, many cases of significant GPS interference have been reported worldwide in the maritime domain. As you can imagine, the Maritime Administration advises that you exercise excessive caution when operating in GPS disturbed conditions.

Situational awareness is always crucial for safe navigation, and especially in a GPS disturbed situation. If the vessel is fitted with a FarSounder Argos 3D FLS, the vessel would have the ability to use 3D FLS to reinforce the vessel’s position, even if the GPS was refused.

For example, if a reference was detected, navigation buoys or a shore, say 750m with both radar and sonar, it would build confidence in the location. Of course, a radar system does not give any information about what is below the waterline. Therefore, in addition to adding more redundancy to the procedure used to position the vessel and navigate, the Argos system would alert the crew to any underwater navigation hazards that may not have been listed.

Reefs are another danger lurking below the surface. The ocean is moving, growing and changing all the time. This fact was recently brought to the fore when a coral reef comparable to the size of the Empire State Building was discovered off the northern coast of Australia at the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Without recent survey data, there is no tool in the traditional browser’s “toolbox” that could have detected this hazard while browsing.

Although this specific example is 40m deep at its shallowest point, there could certainly be others which are shallower and pose a hazard to navigation. Navigating only using existing charts, GPS, radar, and sonar in an area with shallow, unmapped reefs could have resulted in a collision.

In fact, in the past there have been notable accidents in the reefs that have brought this problem to life, namely the grounding of the USS Guardian. The ship struck the Tubbataha Reef off the coast of the Philippines, causing millions of dollars in damage to the ship and the environment. One of the main causes of the accident was determined to be inaccurate map data.

This accident is just one of many collisions with reefs and shallows that occur each year. Some are bigger and more expensive than others. If vessel operators are able to see the hazards of navigating underwater in real time, they can change course appropriately and avoid the danger posed by the hazard. Mariners use many tools, but prospective real-time 3D sonar is an important piece of the puzzle that can protect the environment and ships from damage, and save lives.

The additional situational awareness provided by an Argos system is essential for difficult boating areas, including unmapped and poorly mapped areas, or tropical regions with an ever-changing environment. As you can see, even if your itinerary doesn’t include venturing off the beaten path, an Argos system is a valuable addition to your navigation toolbox and an extra level of safety to seriously consider.

Don’t get caught up in any of the sticky situations described above without one! To learn more, visit www.farsounder.com.

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