Superyacht Sonar Technology


Knowing exactly what is under the water is a vital part of safe navigation. Cassie Stetkiewicz looks at the latest technology available to overcome this challenge

Having a clear understanding of what is under the water ahead of the vessel is vital for safe navigation but not always accessible or reliable. The innovative technology developed with this challenge in mind is FarSounder’s Argos 3D Forward Looking Sonar. Yachts that have chosen to include this proven navigation technology into their bridge are able to venture into poorly charted or uncharted waters with the confidence in knowing what is ahead.

Over the last 20 years, FarSounder has worked to develop an easy-to-understand interface giving captains and crew a user-friendly real-time picture of the seafloor and the water column. Today, these systems are the only products on the market capable of generating a true, 3D image ahead of a vessel in real-time out to navigationally significant ranges. The images are displayed on a chart overlay and in a 3D display offering an otherwise unobtainable level of situational awareness helping to keep vessels safe and greatly minimizing risks.

The Argos patented technology’s SonaSoft 3.15 software, the company’s latest release, now includes support for standard S57/S63 format charts. This feature is now included free for all as part of the base package. This advancement in software gives users the ability to have one license for the entire bridge. This feature makes it easy for the user to obtain a more complete understanding of their surroundings in one screen.

Another recent and related feature added in this release is Automatic Identification System (AIS) targets and Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA) targets displayed in the Chart Viewer. Support for new NMEA message types associated with AIS and ARPA targets have been added and will now be displayed on the users navigational chart, similar to how they may be shown in their ECDIS.

Having both AIS and ARPA targets included in the Chart Viewer enhances the situational awareness for operators even further. For example, by seeing what is detected underwater, and then knowing there was a ship passing by, adds a piece to the puzzle of what is being detected by the sonar increasing the confidence level of the user.

The fast update rate of the sonar paints the entire 3D image with a single ping eliminating wait time. This makes it easy to quickly understand what is underwater, helping crew make data-based, quick decisions. As an added layer of confidence, the systems aren’t limited by multipath interference, roll/pitch, surface effects, and ship motion, and navigators can distinguish between the seafloor and dangerous in-water obstacles through the systems’ processing of depth measurement and colour mapping.

This sonar technology alerts captains and crew to obstacles in the water column and shallow bottoms up to 1000 meters in front of the vessel in 3D and in real-time. This allows the crew to safely and confidently navigate challenging waters to get passengers safely to exclusive locations. Keeping the risks to people, marine life and the vessel at bay. With varying transducer sizes and operational ranges offered: the Argos 350, 500, and 1000, there is a sonar system well-suited for a variety of yacht types, lengths and hull shapes.

The Argos systems protect vessels from rocks, icebergs, reefs, shallows, shorelines, and marine life, to name just a few. Yachts encounter these types of challenges regularly and this sonar navigation system detects and warns when dangers are in front of the vessel. These unique sonars are the only ones on the market detecting hazards at navigationally significant ranges. Now with the new software featuring the included chart overlay along with the AIS and ARPA targets, users can navigate with even more confidence.

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