Police Use Sonar Technology To Find Fisherman's Body

Sonar imagery equipment quickly succeeds after hours of searching with boats and helicopters

by / February 23, 2006
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the man and a friend were fishing off the Cabrillo Beach breakwater when they were swept away by a rogue wave shortly after midnight. The survivor was reportedly able to swim to shore, but the other man was nowhere to be seen.

Rescuers from Los Angeles City Fire Department, LAPD, and the Los Angeles Port Police searched for the missing man with boats and helicopters for several hours with no success. In the early morning, Los Angeles Port Police got to the scene equipped with a newly installed BlueView High Definition Imaging Sonar mounted on their patrol boat. The body of the man was located using the new sonar shortly before 8 a.m., about 30 feet from where he had been washed away by the wave.

The L.A. Port Police used BlueView Technologies' new multi-beam imaging sonar to assist in the location of the body of the lost fisherman.

The officer onboard the boat was able to view real-time streaming imagery that the new sonar produces and speak to the divers over an underwater acoustic communication system. Using this combination of tools, the officer was able to quickly direct the divers to the body, said Port of Los Angeles police Sgt. Kevin McCloskey.

"This new sonar system is a very versatile tool that we use for Port Security missions and tracking our dive team during critical operations inside the port. We were glad we could use it to help find this man and bring closure for his family," McCloskey said.

Recently developed at the University of Washington, this new sonar technology is exclusively licensed to Seattle-based startup BlueView Technologies for commercialization. Using this technology, BlueView has developed a series of high-performance imaging sonar products for law enforcement, port security, and other commercial applications. These compact, low-cost products can be easily deployed from small patrol vessels and are more affordable than conventional systems.