Incorporating Ocean-Borne Debris Information into Search Object Location Distributions

Stone, LD, Van Gurley, J & Frost JR


This paper presents a method for incorporating information from waterborne debris that has been recovered at a known time and place into the object location distribution. The method involves calculating a likelihood function which can be combined with the prior distribution on the location of a lost object, such as a ship or aircraft lost at sea, to produce, in a Bayesian fashion, a posterior distribution that reduces uncertainty in the location of the loss. When the search operation involves a person or vessel adrift at sea, incorporating debris information in this fashion will allow the search planner to produce better predictions for the location of the search object at times of future searches and enable more effective deployment of search assets. Use of this method will save time, money, and lives.

KEY WORDS: Maritime Search and Rescue, Ocean-Borne Debris, Maritime Loss, Debris Drift, Object Location Distribution, Bayesian, Posterior Distribution

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