The use of multibeam echo sounders (MBES) has grown more frequent in applications like seafloor imaging, fisheries, and habitat mapping. Calibration of these instruments is important for understanding and validating the performance of MBES. For echo sounders in general, different calibration methodologies have been developed in controlled environments such as a fresh water tank and in the actual field of operation. While calibration in an indoor tank facility can bring excellent results in terms of accuracy, the amount of time required for a complete calibration can become prohibitively large. A field calibration can reveal the actual radiation beam pattern for shipmounted sonar systems, accounting for acoustic interferences which may be caused by objects around the installed transducers. The standard target method is a common practice for field calibration of split-beam echo sounders. However, when applied to a Mills Cross MBES, this method does not provide means to determine the alongship angle of the target, since the receiver transducer is a line array. A method to determine the combined transmit/receive radiation beam pattern for a ship-mounted multibeam system was developed and tested for a Reson Seabat 7125 MBES inside the fresh water calibration tank of the University of New Hampshire. This calibration methodology employs a tungsten carbide sphere of 38.1 mm diameter as target and a Simrad EK60 split-beam sonar system to provide athwartship and alongship angular information of the target sphere position. The multibeam sonar system was configured for 256 beams equi-angle mode at an operating frequency of 200 kHz; the split-beam system was set to work passively at the same frequency. A combined transmit/receive beam pattern was computed for an athwartship angular range between –6o and +6o and an alongship angular range between –1o and +3o . The limited angular range of the measurements is due to the –3 dB beamwidth of 7.1o in the athwartship and alongship directions of the split-beam sonar system coupled with the alongship offset of 1.6o between the maximum response axes (MRA) of the two sonar systems. Possible acoustic interferences caused by the monofilament line used to suspend the target sphere in the water column were found in the measurements for alongship angle values less than –1o . Beam pattern measurements for the combined transmit/receive beam pattern at a distance of 8 m show a –3 dB beamwidth of 1.1o in the athwartship direction and a –3 dB beamwidth of 2.0o in the alongship direction for the most inner beams. The dynamic range for the measurements was approximately of –40 dB.


Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping

Publication Date


Journal or Conference Title

IEEE Oceans



Conference Date

19-22 September

Publisher Place

Kona, HI, USA

Document Type

Conference Proceeding