New Device Will Help Rescue Divers See in Dark Waters

SM Navigator

Photo courtesy of City of Long Beach

Long Beach first responders have a new weapon in their search and rescue arsenal in the form of a portable sonar device that will assist the city’s Public Safety Dive Team find missing swimmers and submersion victims.

The device, called a Shark Marine Navigator, was originally developed for military special forces to allow divers to navigate underwater while remaining undetected and will now assist the City’s dive team in their daily search and rescue, investigation, and salvage efforts. The device allows divers to see up to 250 meters away in zero-visibility conditions and possibly allow for Public Safety Team divers to locate their targets faster than traditional methods which could increase chances of survival.

Mayor Bob Foster praised the device in a press release, stating that its inclusion in the city’s life saving repertoire will not only keep the community safer but also the divers utilizing the Shark.

“The Shark Marine Navigator sonar imaging and navigation system gives our first responders the ability to do their jobs better and safer in a dangerous environment, and provide better service to the community,” Foster said. 

The device is portable with a screen that’s roughly the size of a standard laptop. It operates much like an airplane instrument panel: the diver aims it into the dark or murky waters and it illuminates vital information like the location of unseen obstacles and potential victims hidden below the water’s surface.

The acquisition of the shark was financed by a $200,000 Homeland Security Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) Program grant and is being stored on a 24-hour response Long Beach Fire Department Marine Safety Rescue Boat so it’s ready to deploy in an emergency situation.

“The city is constantly seeking to improve service delivery to the community,” Deputy City Manager Reginald Harrison said in a press release about the Shark sonar device. “The recent purchase of the Shark Marine Navigator represents the forward thinking capacity of the public safety team and it makes the city a safer place to live, work and play.”

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.