Topical matters

Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS)

Environmental Surveillance and Control System

Practical case of application by the Port Authority of Ceuta of MASS for civil use

Ceuta is an autonomous Spanish city, located on the African shore of the Strait of Gibraltar, on the eastern side of it, being one of the most congested sea routes in the world. It is bathed by the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, while to the west and southwest it borders Morocco.

The Ceuta operational MASS area is a port close vicinity implementation of a MASS with three possible modes of operation: on-board, remote and automatic control.

MASS Vendaval consists mainly on 3 systems:

  • Detection system: Passive electronic system (EO-RSTA) for tracking maritime surface targets consisting of:
    • Electro-optical hardware composed of forward scanning infrared (FLIR) cameras that allows night vision or fog and the detection of hot objects on a cold background in dark or low vision conditions.
    • Software for acquisition and tracking of targets that allows its georeferenced location in digital cartography.
  • Command and control systems: computerized system (C4) made up of hardware and software that allow the integration of the signals from the detection and communication system with the response system for command and control and whose function is to assess the situation, make decisions, and direct response actions.
  • Response system: 3 modes of operation (manual, remote control or completely autonomous) with different sensors and allowing:
    • Confirm the existence and respond, where appropriate, to a threat.
    • Increase the detection capacity by bringing the sensors closer to the place to be inspected.
    • Automatic docking and undocking.


Command and control



Surveillance and security providing support for State action at sea
Control of measures that guarantee port activity and navigation (art. 297 TRLPEMM) and port ordinances
Support to search and rescue operations, Mapping and surveying, Inspection and maintenance of infrastructures, Environmental monitoring