A prototype airborne oil surveillance system was developed for the United States Coast Guard by Aerojet ElectroSystems Company. The multisensor system permits real-time, day-night, all-weather detection, mapping, and documentation of oil spills at sea. The system was installed aboard a Coast Guard HU-16 Albatross and flight tested off the California coast. Surveillance data were obtained from natural seeps, a series of controlled oil spills, routine shipping, and targets of opportunity.

The airborne system consists of a sidelooking radar, a passive microwave imager, a multispectral low-light level TV, a multichannel line scanner, a position reference system, and a real-time processor-display console.

The system reliably detected and mapped oil spills and seeps in conditions ranging from dense undercast to clear, from wind speeds of 0 to 25 knots, and from daytime to total darkness. Test results demonstrate that a practical airborne oil surveillance system is feasible and can be invaluable to other Coast Guard missions.

*The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private ones of the writer and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Commandant or the Coast Guard at large.

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