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Survey ship HMS Magpie tests seabed mapping software

05 Mar 2021 (Last Updated March 5th, 2021 15:20)

The British Royal Navy’s survey vessel HMS Magpie has tested an advanced software designed to map the seabed close to shore in hours.

Survey ship HMS Magpie tests seabed mapping software
HMS Magpie, here conducting survey work off Plymouth. Credit: Royal Navy.

The British Royal Navy’s survey vessel HMS Magpie has tested an advanced software designed to map the seabed close to shore in hours.

The ship used a regular radar and specialist computer programme that measures wave height to chart around Plymouth waters.

The radar bathymetry method was developed by scientists from the National Oceanography Centre scientists and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) experts from Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

National Oceanography Centre lead project scientist Paul Bell said: “By analysing the sea clutter images of waves visible on standard marine radars, a bathymetric profile (that’s the depth) and surface current assessment is created.

“This technique could allow the remote charting of both shallow water and currents from a standoff distance of several nautical miles and could be employed by all Royal Navy ships using the navigation radars that are already fitted with.”

The software uses data and information about currents to create a detailed seabed profile in hours instead of days or weeks.

The software is currently still undergoing development with plans to integrate it with the Royal Navy’s existing navigational radar and systems.

The effort requires upgraded software and would not need new equipment.

HMS Magpie commanding officer lieutenant commander Mark White said: “The Royal Navy is continually looking to employ new up-to-date technologies.

“The beauty of this concept is that it uses the existing radars already fitted to our ships.

“It was excellent to work alongside the National Oceanography Centre to trial and develop these new and exciting techniques that could have a wide range of use in the Royal Navy.”