The Swedish Coast Guard monitors the Baltic Sea around the clock. The EM 3002 echosounder, supplied by Kongsberg Maritime, helps them maintain constant supervision under the water's surface.

  • Ove Ronny Haraldsen
    Group Communication Manager

With the 250 km long Swedish coastline as their working environment and maintaining control of more than 40 percent of the Baltic Sea, the Swedish Coast Guard has its hands full. Their job involves ice breaking, fire fighting, monitoring and charting the coastal environment, supervising the speed of shipping traffic and, not least, clearing up after environmental catastrophes.

“We carry out all kinds of tasks, mainly for the merchant fleet, but also in relation to private traffic by upholding speed limits and checking for drink driving at sea. In short, it is our job to save, help and protect at sea and we play a role in pretty much everything that happens along the Swedish coastline,” explains Newbuilding Director with the Swedish Coast Guard, Åke Dagnevik.

While a good number of the tasks for the Swedish Coast Guard take place above the water’s surface, they also perform a number of operations involving the seabed, for example charting and clearing. Working on the seabed requires efficient technology. The Swedish Coast Guard has recently invested in a new tool for this work, the EM 3002 multi-beam echosounder from Kongsberg Maritime. This transmits simultaneous sound signals which return acoustic images of the seabed, displayed on a screen onboard the Coast Guard vessels.

With extremely high resolution and special adaptation for cold waters, the EM 3002 is extremely well suited to charting and investigating the seabed at depths from under 1 metre to as deep as 200 metres. The acoustic images make it much easier to detect different types of objects in deep waters, such as remains of shipwrecks. According to Åke Dagnevik, the system is of particular importance for the Coast Guard when clearing up after an environmental catastrophe.

“The use of multi-beam echosounders was an entirely new concept for us. They have been invaluable when searching for containers with toxic gases and oil, a job for which we normally had to use divers and ROVs. These echosounders allow us to search and chart the seabed much more efficiently,” he explains.

Åke Dagnevik believes that the risk of environmental catastrophes is an increasing problem in the Baltic Sea, placing much more stringent requirements on both vessels and the systems they have onboard.

“The shipping situation in the Baltic Sea has seen a lot of change in recent years. The increase in oil and gas activities in Russia has led to a rise in the number of tankers crossing the Sea. The risk of oil spills is therefore much higher, and Sweden has to take on its share of the responsibility. As a result, the Swedish government has reached a decision to improve our fleet, bringing in larger vessels which have the capacity to handle major situations,” continues Åke Dagnevik.

The Swedish Coast Guard will soon be replacing four of its older vessels with completely new environmental vessels, due for completion by 2011. What’s more, they recently expanded the fleet with three so-called combination vessels. These have capacity to handle a larger volume of oil spill and are equipped with improved functionality for towing and fire fighting at sea. They are also particularly suited for assisting with chemical spills and it is these vessels which have been fitted with the EM 3002 multi-beam echosounder.

“Our existing fleet is 30 years old and no longer has optimal functionality. The new vessels and systems will provide vast improvements for us while assisting other vessels trafficking the Swedish coast from day to day. They will also be hugely beneficial when working on environmental assignments as they are much more modern and have increased capacity for clearing up oil spills. The monitoring equipment onboard is also far more modern and efficient,” continues Mr. Dagnevik, who hopes that the new equipment will be in operation for the Coast Guard for the next 30 years to come.

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