Sea survival predictor

Researchers at Portsmouth University and the US Coast Guard are working together to develop a computer model that will predict how long someone will survive when lost at sea.


The Search and Rescue Survival Model has been designed to take the pressure off rescuers making difficult decisions about when a search and rescue mission should be stopped.


The US Coast Guard currently uses the Search and Rescue Optimal Planning System (SAROPS) to calculate the distance a person may have drifted and how large the search area should be.


SAROPS takes into account data such as wind speed, sea state and water temperature in addition to the victim’s clothing, sex, height and weight to determine the length and distance of the operation.


The new software is expected to work alongside the current system by adding a further layer of information.


Chris Turner, ocean engineer and manager for the US Coast Guard, said: ‘The University of Portsmouth has been able to tap into and analyse data held by the Institute of Naval Medicine and the Royal National Lifeboats Institution, both critical to the development of this survival model.


‘To our knowledge, no other similar repository of this information exits, even in the US.’


The technology is expected to support the US Coast Guard in its target of saving 93 per cent of victims each year (between 3000 and 6000 people) and will be trialled in America in late 2009.