Speaking of drones in the Pacific
I’ve talked a lot about the Navy’s Sea Hunter program and others, but how about this news ICYMI from the Pitcairn Islands– you know, that windswept group of four volcanic atolls in the Pacific inhabited mostly by descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians who accompanied them. Sparsely populated, the British Territory sees the occasional USCG/USN or RN ship pass through the area, but there is no enduring presence.
It seems they have hit on the idea of protecting their huge EEZ (322,000 sq. mile, or about the size of Texas and Montana combined!) by unmanned submersible operated by Satellite Applications Catapult and the Pew Charitable Trusts at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Harwell, Oxfordshire.
Apparently the preserve is home to at least 1,249 species of marine mammals, seabirds and fish, as well as some of the most near-pristine ocean habitat on Earth, and the 54 inhabitants of the Pitcairnians– who depend on the sea for survival– can’t stop trans-global poachers all by themselves.
The drone, made by US firm Liquid Robotics, will be directed by staff at the satellite watch room which is monitoring fishing vessels. The craft is equipped with a camera that can take snaps of fishing vessels that are in restricted areas, and satellite technology that can pinpoint their location. The unmanned craft starting patrolling late last month.
The Liquid Robotics drone, called a Wave Glider, is a two-part craft made up of an instrument-bearing boat that floats on the ocean surface that is tethered to a submersible. The craft uses the differential motion between the sea surface and the region the submersible traverses to propel itself.
The self-propelling propulsion system means the Wave Glider can stay at sea for months at a time.