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Saab keeps ships sailing the river Waal safe

2 min read

On April 11, 2019, a maintenance team from Saab successfully replaced the radar antenna unit at Heeselt, one of the sensor sites of the Tiel Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) system. This replacement ensures continuity in securing the safety of over 100 000 vessels that traverse the river Waal each year.

The Waal

The Waal is a major waterway that connects the Port of Rotterdam with German industry in the Ruhr area. In 2008, Saab supplied the VTS system to the Dutch Ministry of Transport.  It supports the on-shore operators in guiding the ships navigating the river. The radar and other sensors along the river provide the surveillance needed to build real-time traffic image.

Radar replacement

One of the sensor sites is location Heeselt. The radar at this site was reused from a previous system installed in the mid-1990’s. Before it was put to use in 2008, it was fully renovated. Now, 11 years later, it was time to replace it. Radars work by scanning the surroundings with radio waves through a rotating antenna. During its lifetime, this radar antenna has rotated an estimated 10 million times.

April 11 was a sunny day and provided ideal circumstances to make the antenna replacement. The radar is placed on the banks of the river with variable water levels. Two weeks earlier, it would not have been possible to reach this site because of high water.

Welcome upgrade

Not only is now the reliability of the system improved, the better quality of the antenna results in a more detailed radar image for the operators to work with.