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New scanner to check Sydney Harbour

A state-of-the-art digital sonar scanner will help NSW police search for and detect bombs in Sydney Harbour, boosting their counter-terrorism capabilities.

The Side Scan Sonar will mean police can search underwater infrastructure, piers and boat hulls quickly and more accurately for explosive devices. Replacing an analogue scanning system, the $100,000 device will also be used to map the harbour floor and seawalls in order to create a database of images detailing the underwater geography of Sydney Harbour, Port Kembla, Port Stephens and a number of other NSW sites.

Acting Premier Andrew Refshauge said the equipment was an important boost to the police’s counter-terrorism capabilities.

NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the new device was “as good as it gets anywhere in the world”. The scanner also would be useful for criminal investigations and forensic work, he said.

Similar technology was used to investigate the al-Qaeda bombing of the US Navy’s USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. Water Police Sergeant Mal Jeffs said the device would free up vital police diving resources.

The portable scanner, based at the Balmain Water Police complex, also will allow police divers to search for bodies.