For discussion on
16 October 1999

Legislative Council Panel on Security

Replacement of Marine Police's Radar Surveillance System


The paper informs Members of a plan to replace the existing radar surveillance system (RSS) of Marine Police with a digital system.


2. The RSS provides real time operational and navigational data to Marine Police in maintaining law and order at sea. The radar coverage it provides is invaluable in facilitating Marine Police to prevent and take enforcement action against thefts from moored vessels by closely monitoring potential targets (e.g. vessels carrying high-valued cargoes moored at known black spots), conduct marine traffic control during firework displays, co-ordinate search and rescue operations and monitor areas where security coverage is necessary. The long range radar capability helps establish the precise locations of intercepted vessels. The ability to track and monitor fast-moving vessels provides enormous support to police launches in anti-smuggling and anti-illegal immigration operations. For example, since June this year, the Anti-smuggling Task Force has intercepted twelve smuggling speed boats including six "Tai Feis" carrying cars and two smuggling fishing vessels. Some of these interceptions would not have been possible if we only had launches patrolling the waters. In addition, the system can record and provide print-outs of vessel positions and movements which are useful for future reference and for presentation as Court evidence.

3. The RSS obtains raw radar information from the vessel traffic services (VTS) system of the Marine Department. The existing system was planned in the early 1990's and was based on the technology prevailing at that time, which was in analogue format. Its coverage was then the same as the VTS system which only had eight radar sites at that time At present, it can only receive data from eight radar sites out of nine sites of the VTS system by means of fibre-optic lines. It is unable to receive digital signal from the ninth radar site which is a new site and is in digital format. The situation is currently remedied by reinforcing patrolling of vessels. The Police consider it operationally necessary to enhance the radar coverage as the area concerned is a convenient route for smuggling and illegal immigration activities.

4. The VTS System will be upgraded to a digital system by the end of 2002 and become operational in early 2003. It would be necessary to replace the RSS with a digital system concurrently so that Marine Police can continue to receive radar information from the VTS system and hence maintain their monitoring capability within the Hong Kong waters. If the existing RSS is not upgraded or replaced, the RSS would experience an interfacing problem with the new digital VTS system. Since there is no existing digital to analogue Police's operational requirement, the existing analogue RSS could not function under the new digital VTS system. As a result, the Marine Police will completely lose the ability to monitor vessel movements in the waters of Hong Kong.

The Proposed Digital RSS

5. In terms of coverage, the proposed digital RSS is fully compatible with the digital VTS system and can receive digital signals from all radar sites including the ninth radar site of the VTS system. Apart from this coverage enhancement, there will be an additional console which will enable separate tracking to be performed simultaneously. In addition to the multiple tracking of targeted vessels, the proposed digital RSS also provides advanced target extraction, tracking and labelling technology giving the operators a more accurate prediction of vessel movements. The open modular architecture, a feature of digital systems, also allows for alter expansion of the system.

6. Although the RSS relies on the VTS system for raw radar data, the two systems are independent and function in their own way to meet the different operational requirements of Marine Police and the Marine Department. We propose to include the RSS in the procurement exercise of the VTS system because according to DEMS, this approach has the following benefits -

  1. bulk discount; and

  2. savings in installation costs at remote radar sites.

DEMS estimates that the project cost would increase by 12% if we tender for the RSS alone due to the loss of the bulk discount and the additional cost involved in arranging for installation at the remote radar sites.

Cost Estimation

7. We estimate that the non-recurrent cost of the digital RSS will be $16.5 million, broken down as follows-

(a)Purchase, installation, testing and commissioning of the digital RSS system
    (i)Control room equipment
    (ii)Network equipment
    (iii)Remote radar sites equipment
    (iv)System software
    (v)Supporting services
    (vi)Installation of four data lines
    (vii)Minor electrical and building works
Sub-total 13,080
(b)Electrical and Mechanical Services Department
(EMSD) consultancy and project management fees
(c) Contigency (10% of (a)) 1,310
Total 16,500

8. As regards paragraph 7(a) above, the estimated cost of $13,080,000 is to cover the hardware and software cost of the system, including three workstations with tracking hardware, specialised system and mapping software, recording and playback equipment and minor electrical and building works at Marine Police Headquarters. Supporting services include engineering, installation of equipment, testing, commissioning, training and documentation. About half of the total cost for the supporting services will be used for the installation of equipment as considerable cost will be incurred for the installation and transportation of equipment in remote sites which have to be accessed by helicopters. In addition, about 15% of the cost will be used for engineering, i.e. the design of the system.

9. As regards paragraph 7(b) above, the estimated cost of $2,110,000 is to cover EMSD consultancy and project management fees. A computation of the charges is at Annex.

10. The Police estimate that there will be saving of $178,000 in the annual operating cost arising from the proposed system, broken down as follows-

(a) Hardware and software maintenance cost of the proposed system 1,300
(b) Rental of Digital Data Service (DDS) lines of the proposed system 312
(c)Recurrent cost of the existing analogue system (1,790)
Saving (178)

11. As regards paragraph 10(a) above, the estimated cost of $1.3 million is to cover the annual maintenance cost of the hardware and software of the proposed system.

12. As regards paragraph 10(b) above, the estimated cost of $312,000 is to cover the annual rental of the DDS lines for receiving radar data from the new VTS system (one high speed data link and three medium speed data links).

13. As regards paragraph 10(c) above, it is the annually recurrent maintenance cost of the existing system. The higher maintenance cost of the analogue system is mainly due to the higher rental of fibre-optic lines which will not required for digital system.

14. As regards manning of the RSS, the Police will deploy existing staff to operate the new RSS and no additional staff are required.

Implementation Plan

15. The Police plan to replace the RSS according to the following schedule to tie in with the upgrading of the VTS system -

Target completion date
(a) Design and specification preparation Dec 1999
(b) Tendering and awarding contract May 2000
(c) Manufacturing, installation and testing Oct 2001
(d) Acceptance of RSS control centre Dec 2001
(e) Acceptance of equipment at remote sites Dec 2002

Other Proposals Considered

16. We have considered the possibility of converting the digital data received from the new VTS system to data in analogue format for use by the existing RSS. The feedback we got from the industry is that there is no digital to analogue interface readily available in the commercial market capable of performing the vessel tracking function required by the Marine Police. Moreover, analogue systems are being phased out and the whole radar surveillance industry is moving towards digital processing and tracking technology.

Security Bureau
October 1999


Calculation of the
Electrical and Mechanical Services Trading Fund (EMSTF)
Project Management Fee

A. Project cost $13,050,000
B. EMSTF Project Management Fee
Project value Charging rate
On the first $400,000 25.0 100,000
On the next $1,600,000 20.0 320,000
On the next $11,050,000 16.5 1,823,250

EMSD Trading Fund (normal rate)
Less: Efficiency savings of EMSTF 2,243,250 123,379
Total 2,119,871
Say 2,110,000