Atlantic Maritime Surveillance

Atlantic Maritime Surveillance

Atlantic Maritime Surveillance shall assess requirements for fisheries protection, detection and tracking of vessels engaged in trafficking activities and protection of shipping lanes. Moreover the service has the potential to assist in monitoring the integrity of marine infrastructure such as large buoy deployments, wind farms and wave energy devices. Additional topics of interest in safety at sea include the monitoring of “no-go” areas and the locating of polluting vessels or vessels in distress. A range of moving targets need to be monitored and these include fishing vessels, leisure craft with ocean going capability, go fast craft with offshore capability and commercial vessels.


service at the end of the project

At the end of the project, satellite imagery will be processed to ship detection reports in Ireland, and correlated with AIS, VMS and LRIT from the Irish users. 


service details

The objective is to enhance the maritime surveillance of the EEZ for areas where little information is readily available today. In addition to the large numbers of vessels working in the Irish EEZ, this zone is also transited by significant numbers of vessels, en-route to destinations beyond the Atlantic zone. The national legislation mandates the Irish Naval Service and Irish Coastguard Service to monitor vessel traffic to/from Irish ports, offshore marine economic assets and vessels passing through, or close to, the Irish EEZ.

  • Main Benefits for users

Organisations and agencies with a responsibility for marine surveillance within Irish jurisdictional waters are challenged by having to patrol an extensive AOI using limited resources; therefore services or products that can assist with meeting this challenge are viewed as beneficial.

Implementation of ANISTIAMO will greatly enhance the abilities of Irish users, specifically due to improvements in the efficiency of asset deployment and vessel detection, search and rescue operations, and pollution investigation capabilities, all of which will be of significant operational and strategic benefit.  

EO data use for operational purposes is at an early stage of implementation; ANISTIAMO will greatly contribute to building capacity in the context of use of EO products and services for use within Irish user organisations.

  • Areas of Interest

Figure 1: Area of interest for the Irish users


  • Service Chain Description

Figure 2: Atlantic Maritime Service Chain (Phase 1)


Figure 3: Atlantic Maritime Service Chain (Phase 2)


  • Input Data
    • EO:
      • RADARSAT-2
        • Initially as part of KSAT service while Irish service chain under construction.
        • Subsequently, (subject to negotiation of direct data-access agreement) via terrestrial feed direct to Ireland.
      • Cosmo-Skymed
        • Initially as part of KSAT service
        • Subsequently, direct to Ireland when CSK downlink (currently under negotiation) is implemented at NSCL Elfordstown
      • TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X
        • Initially as part of KSAT service
        • Subsequently, direct to Ireland when TSX downlink (currently under negotiation) is implemented at NSCL Elfordstown
    • In-Situ :
      • LRIT - data feed available from Irish Naval Service
      • Coastal AIS – data feed available from Irish Coastguard Service
      • S-AIS – direct downlink via NSCL Elfordstown, from exactEarth/COMDEV constellation.
      • Metocean forecasting (wind / wave conditions) is available to Irish Naval Service (via MeteoGroup services).
  • EO Data Processing (@KSAT)

While Irish service chain is being constructed, RADARSAT-2, Cosmo-Skymed and TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X data downlinked in Tromsø, Svalbard or Grimstad. Level1b processing performed in Tromsø. (CSK/TSX can also be received as level1b from their respective providers and/or through the GMES Data Warehouse).

  • EO Data Processing (@NSCL)

Subsequently, processing of EO data received at NSCL will be subject to terms of agreement with service providers. (Currently under negotiation)     

  • Ship detection algorithms (@KSAT):

Initially (Phase 1), delivery of this element of the Irish Service Chain will rely on the expertise of KSAT - K-distribution CFAR algorithm is used on the SAR data then move to Phase 2 review of this and other algorithms with view to tailoring Irish situation which will be incorporated within Irish Service Chain (see below). The automatic ship detection results will be visually QA checked by operators before it is allowed to enter the service chain (correlation and distribution). The operators remove false detections and add any missed targets.

  • Ship detection algorithms (@NSCL)

For Phase 2 of ANISTIAMO the intention will be to move QA activities to the Irish partner node, and as part of the capacity building under ANISTIAMO, they will be in a position to fulfil this element of the service chain. During this phase of the project, the K-distribution CFAR algorithm will be reviewed along with other vessel detection algorithms with a view to determining the best option for Irish situational use.

  • Value added Processing

Review of available vessel detection algorithms to determine options for fine-tuning to meet Irish situational requirements.

  • Quality Control

While the Irish service chain is being built, QC standards will be as set and implemented by KSAT.  At the commencement of data processing operations in Ireland, a QC process will be implemented at NSCL, using the KSAT model as best practice.

  • Data Integration and Assimilation
    • Correlation of vessel detections with static surface objects (oil rigs, wind mills, buoys, etc.) using a proximity method. The proximity distance is configurable.
    • Correlation of vessel detections with dynamic surface object, i.e. with coastal and satellite AIS data. The AIS data is matched to the time of the vessel detection by interpolation/extrapolation of the AIS data, the AIS data is then “corrected” for the Doppler-shift before a proximity method is used for the matching of AIS and vessel detections. The proximity distance and time difference between the AIS data and time of vessel detections are configurable.
  • Data Dissemination

    While the Irish service chain is under construction, an email notification that new/updated service product(s) is available is sent from KSAT to the users. If the user has implemented direct access to the KSAT Geoweb from the VTS system the products will be viewed directly on the VTS screen, as shown in the following Figure 2‑6. If not, they then use the KSAT vessel information browser (see Figure 2‑7below) to access and view the service product from the KSAT Geoweb service. The vessel detection on KML format can also be downloaded from the browser.

    When data processing is implemented in Ireland, the notification will be sent from NSCL and they will access the service product via their local UI.

  • Output Product Specification:
    • Vessel detection (VDS): GML/KML/OTH GOLD format with the following information on the detected vessels:
      • Time of detection
      • Position
      • Size, i.e. length in meters
      • Heading in degrees, if it can be estimated
    • Correlation: GML/KML format with the following information on the vessels:
      • Correlated vessels: Available information from both the VDS and AIS data, including estimated AIS position at time of VDS.
      • Non-correlated AIS vessels: available AIS information
      • Non-correlated VDS vessels: available VDS information
  • Delivery:
  • Performances
    • Response time: > 12hours
    • Update time: 2 hours
    • Delivery time: < 60 minutes
    • False alarm rate: < 10%
    • Probability detection: Better than 90% for vessels larger than 25m in wind speeds up to 12 m/s
    • Location accuracy: Requirement would be +/- 1 nautical mile at the 200 mile limit to millimetric accuracy in the territorial sea as is possible with DGPS
  • Future
    • Evolution in next 3 years:
      • Introduction of groundstation infrastructure at NSCL for direct acquisition of Cosmo-Skymed and TSX/TDX data into Irish service chain.
      • Introduction of Atlantic-specific data processing and service chain at NSCL
      • Improved ship detection performance by introduction of RADARSAT-2 ScanSAR SLC products that can use the IHP method
      • Improved ship detection by integration of improved method for fusing of multi-polarimetic data
      • Improved target detection and parameter estimation by wake analysis
    • Evolution in 3-5 years:
      • Continued introduction of EO data service chain in Ireland.
      • Introduction of new sensors like RADARSAT Constellation, Sentinel-1, etc. for improved coverage frequency
      • Introduction of special ship detection SAR modes like the RADARSAT-2 Maritime Surveillance Satellite Radar specifically tailored to wide area ship detection.
      • Improved capabilities for tracking of vessels over time.
      • Improved capabilities for classification of detected vessels
    • Service continuity, improvement and enlargement in 5-10 years
      • Introduction of new sensors like multiband, multipolarisation SAR data for improved ship detection and classification
      • Introduction of new RADARSAT, CSK and Sentinel- follow-on missions for improved coverage frequency
      • Introduction of the operational combined use of wide area covering (ScanSAR type) with high resolution multiparameter SAR data allowing:
      • Improved capabilities for identification of special areas of interests for maritime security in wide coverage data
      • Fast turnaround acquisition in high resolution data for identified interesting areas
      • Fast delivery of information derived from high resolution data with improved capabilities for classification of detected vessels