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Thermal Imaging in Coastal Surveillance and Maritime Security


3 mins


Naomi Munster

published published

December 08, 2020


Maritime Domain Awareness

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Radars are prevalent at sea, but they have limitations since they merely provide a blip on the screen when detecting something. However, thermal imaging gives a real and more easily identifiable image, helping to determine whether a particular object poses a threat or not. Naval vessels also use navigation lights to maneuver at night, although even with these lights, it’s challenging to determine bearings and closure rates. Navigation lights become less useful during fog or rain, which could end in a lethal collision.

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Thermal cameras also meet the challenges of shore-based maritime surveillance applications, such as Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) and maritime or port security. Opgal’s unique multispectral thermal cameras can defeat darkness, heat-haze, humidity, mist, and fog.

Our line of cooled thermal imaging cameras provides long-range situational awareness, while our proprietary uncooled thermal imaging technology brings a unique edge when it comes to naval surveillance. Uncooled technology reacts better to atmospheric particles typical of the sea.


Coastal Surveillance

Costal Surveillance


Border security isn’t solely about securing land crossings. It often entails coastal surveillance as well.

Conditions near the shoreline make it challenging to spot intrusions in darkness and under diverse weather conditions.

Thermal imaging cameras enable border control teams to observe their frontier day and night, fog or mist.


Search & Rescue

Search and Rescue Thermal Imaging


Thermal imagers are a vital tool for Search & Rescue teams when time is of the essence, and saving lives depends on technology for rapid location.

In a person-overboard situation, thermal cameras easily identify a person’s body heat in the colder surrounding water.

Thermal imaging gives an even more significant advantage at night when rescue operations with searchlights alone don’t suffice.


Collision Avoidance

Collision Avoidance Thermal Imaging


Thermal imaging cameras are ideal for detecting objects at sea when visibility is low, and collisions can be fatal.

From icebergs (which are significantly colder than the water) to different-size vessels, early detection is key to preventing damage and saving lives.


Inland River Safety

Inland River Safety Thermal Imaging


When sailing on rivers, lakes, and in-land canals, radar sometimes fails to deliver the needed situational awareness.

High-speed boats don’t allow enough time to analyze radar images and pose a danger to large and slow in-land vessels.

Thermal imaging cameras offer real-time footage that is easily and quickly interpreted by the skipper.

A thermal camera mounted on a pole provides a long-range overview of the sailor’s environment.


Harbor Navigation

Harbor Navigation Thermal Imaging


High situational awareness is vital for Port Traffic Control and Water Taxi Control. Ships could collide with each other at night or during fog, hit bridge pilings, or other floating objects.

Thermal imaging offers another layer of protection to both vessels and crew by enhancing the skipper’s situational awareness.

It is simpler to use than radar, providing a clear image that enables straightforward interpretation and prompt response.


Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement Thermal Imaging


Automatic scans of maritime zones help identify unauthorized activities. In case of intrusion, the system performs identification and tracking.

It creates a “virtual fence” over the water, keeping out unwanted ships and swimmers before reaching the port or harbor area boundary.

Continuous zoom capabilities enable long-range surveillance and tracking of naval vessels at sea and the port 24/7, irrespective of prevailing weather conditions.


Offshore Oil Rig Protection

Offshore Oil Rig Protection Thermal Imaging


Offshore rigs are at constant risk of criminal damage, terrorist attacks, or fire and require security and safety solutions to identify threats before any damage occurs, threatening lives and property.

Thermal security cameras enable 24/7 threat assessment in complete darkness or bad weather.


Port Security

Port Security Thermal Imaging


Container ships are a significant focus of seaport security since they are potentially vulnerable to terrorist infiltration, vandalism, theft, and even fire.

Since these are often placed over vast areas and stand in low lighting conditions, thermal cameras can monitor, track, and alert in case of illegal activity or fire.


Opgal has a range of thermal imaging surveillance solutions that can work together to protect perimeters, boundaries, and vast, wide-open areas over land or water. Security solutions combined with analytics and fire detection capabilities mean Opgal can provide every piece of the surveillance puzzle.

Contact Opgal to understand more about Maritime thermal imaging solutions.