Monitoring vessel traffic in coastal regions is a key element of maritime security. For this reason, additional ways of detecting moving vessels are explored by using the unique structure of their wake waves based on pressure measurements at the seabed. The experiments are performed at a distance of about 2 km from the sailing line using novel multi-sensor devices called ‘hydromasts’ that track both pressure and near-bed water flow current velocities. The main tool for the analysis is a windowed Fourier transform that produces a spectrogram of the wake structure. It is showed that time series from the pressure sensors, measured at a frequency of 100 Hz, 0.2 m above the seabed are a valid source of input data for the spectrogram technique. This technique portrays the properties of both divergent and transverse waves with an accuracy and resolution that is sufficient for the evaluation of the speed and distance of the detected vessels from the measurement device. All the detected passings are matched with vessels using Automatic Identification System (AIS) data. The use of several time series from synchronized multi-sensor systems substantially suppresses noise and improves the quality of the outcome compared to one-point measurements. Additional information about variations in the water flow in wakes provides a simple and reasonably accurate tool for rapid detection of ship passages.

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