New facilities launched in Solomon Islands for maritime surveillance

HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, 15 AUGUST 2008: The Maritime Unit of the Solomon Islands Police Force (SIPF) has new facilities to improve maritime surveillance targeting illegal fishing, transnational crime and search and rescue at sea, thanks to a new Operations Room was officially opened today at SIPF’s portside office.

Director of the Maritime Unit of SIPF, Eddie Tokuru commented when opening the facility: “We are pleased to celebrate the launch of the Operations Room with people who have assisted us in this important step in improving our maritime surveillance facilities. With these new computer facilities, our officers at sea can send emails and data into the Operations Room for the SIPF to respond to straight away. This will improve Solomon Islands’ capacity to monitor what is happening at sea and to contribute to regional surveillance operations.”

The Operations Room was built with funding from Defence Cooperation Program Assistance from the Australian Defence Force. Wing Commander Wendy Horder, Australian Defence Adviser said: “The Australian Defence Co-Operation Program is pleased to have assisted in the funding and project management for the Operations Room Upgrade and looks forward to seeing it used to more effectively target illegal activity in the maritime environment.”

Three Royal Australian Navy advisers are also posted to the SIPF Maritime Unit to advise on maritime surveillance and maintenance of patrol boats.  These advisers were responsible for the project management of the upgrade.
Technical assistance to provide live access to the Vessel Monitoring System, a satellite-based system to monitor the position, speed and direction of registered fishing vessels, from the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).

Director of Fisheries Operations Luatutu Andre Volentras commented: “Fishing is an important industry for the Solomon Islands so it needs the latest technology to control and survey what is happening at sea. Improved access to FFA’s vessel monitoring system here in Honiara will help the region coordinate their efforts to combat illegal fishing.”

The Operations Room has value for police officers not at sea also – it can be used as a backup for the SIPF Communications Centre in case of failure of their systems and also by SIPF in times of national emergency to co-ordinate whole of police operations.

New features of the Operations Room include:
•    Local area network connecting 15 PC’s in the Operations Room and Maritime Unit headquarters
•    Broadband internet connection available 24/7, improving communication with other regional maritime law enforcement agencies
•    Satellite TV news service
•    Two large screen displays allowing display of information from any computer on the network
•    Real time access to FFA Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data
•    Email connectivity between the Operations Room and both patrol boats at sea, providing greater security and more efficient transfer of information (previously only voice connection available, now any form of data can be transferred) – demonstration at opening
•    Vessel tracking system that enables positions of both patrol boats to be automatically sent to the Operations Room at prescribed intervals

Daltron was the main IT contractor for this project.

Contacts for more information (+677): Anouk Ride, FFA:  94548 Sergeant Godfrey Abiah, SI Police Media Unit: 24016