The Magazine for Underwater Professionals
A UK-based Tritech high-resolution survey sonar is proving an invaluable tool in search and recovery operations
In the UK, Yorkshire and the Humber Police, through its regional underwater search and marine unit, has been using the Tritech SeaKing Hammerhead system to locate missing persons.
The system was recently deployed at Snailsden Reservoir, in the peak district, South Yorkshire, where it enabled the team to quickly locate the body of a missing person who was believed drowned. Prior to deployment of the sonar, the area was mapped using Tritech’s StarFish 990F, a high-resolution sidescan sonar system, to ensure the safety of divers entering the waterway; ultimately reducing the amount of time they had to be in the water, making the operation safer.
The marine unit already provides a vital service for the local area, where their operations can include meticulous missing people and crime searches. In addition, the team also visits schools to educate young children of the dangers of playing in open water.
Tritech’s SeaKing Hammerhead sonar provides 360-degree scans of the search area, and a geo-referenced plotter display and a built-in compass ensure accurate marking and mapping of the search area. The SeaKing Hammerhead can be operated in two frequencies – 675 kHz for a large area survey, up to a radius of 100 metres, and 935 kHz for high-definition target examination at up to 40 metres radius.
Mike Broadbent, sales manager at Tritech, says: “We are very pleased that our high-technology equipment has been selected and proven to speed-up these time sensitive operations. It is important that we support underwater search groups such as those at Yorkshire and the Humber Police and it is also very encouraging hearing the positive feedback from them on their success with the SeaKing Hammerhead and StarFish 990F systems.”
Sergeant Steve Birss of the Yorkshire and the Humber Police marine unit says: “In our role, we are required to locate missing persons quickly and safely, often in nil-visibility conditions. The images provided by Tritech’s SeaKing Hammerhead and StarFish 990F were fantastic. The use of this equipment enables us to search larger areas in less time and then quickly guide the diver directly to the missing person. Using this equipment at Snailsden Reservoir reduced the search from weeks to hours, ultimately providing closure for the family concerned.”
He adds: “Tritech’s generosity when we were engaged in very high profile searches in York, North Yorkshire, proved invaluable. Prior to our purchase and without any questions, a SeaKing Hammerhead was provided for our use at short notice; a StarFish 990F was also brought to the scene by a member of the Tritech team who offered to operate the equipment on our behalf in adverse weather conditions for many hours. We were very impressed by this customer service at a time when the help was needed most.”