Field-proven vessel-mounted ADCPs for commercial and scientific applications

Nortek's Signature VM Coastal and Ocean systems provide outstanding bottom-track performance and accurate vessel-mounted current measurement for survey vessels, as well as Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs).

Acoustic cross talk is common on survey vessels collecting multibeam and ADCP data. The Signature VM Coastal is available in multiple frequencies (1000|500|250) and supports a unique frequency spectrum analyzer feature that provides insight on the electrical and acoustical noise sources on the vessel. It offers a triggering mode for cases where the acoustically interfering instrument cannot be turned off.

These systems build on Nortek's legacy of ADCP innovation since the mid 1990s, and constitute a standardized, field-proven vessel-mounted system trusted by a wide range of operational and commercial users as well as ocean science researchers.

With an all-in-one package capable of sediment measurements via an echosounder beam, simultaneous current and depth information, and straightforward data acquisition and processing software, the Signature VM systems provide users with unprecedented capabilities for measurements from a moving vessel. Scroll down to learn about the tailor-made solution for USVs. 

The complete solution for vessel-mounted ADCP solutions

Signature VM setup


Everything you need to take vessel-mounted current measurements:

  1. Select a Signature VM instrument of the appropriate frequency
  2. Mount the instrument on a vessel using the fairing-shaped mounting bracket (Signature 1000 or Signature 500 only)
  3. Mount the GNSS compass to determine positioning
  4. Connect the instrument cables to the processing unit
  5. Process your data using Signature VM acquisition software on board
  6. Post-process with basic QA/QC review software with MATLAB, MATLAB VMT or ASCII output
Download detailed checklist here

Easy-to-use, robust vessel-mounted current profiling systems

  • Simplicity: Everything you need to take accurate current profiling measurements from a moving vessel, the first time around.
  • Versatility: Combined bottom tracking, current profiling, vessel speed and echosounder capabilities for internal waves, biomass and sediment studies.
  • Reliability: Specifically designed software for unmanned operations and remote communications. 
vessel-mounted current profiling systems

A complete range of vessel-mounted current profilers

Nortek's vessel-mounted ADCP systems are available in two main categories: 

Nortek Signature VM coastal ADCP

Signature VM Coastal: 

High-resolution current profiles in the epipelagic upper ocean and coastal zone

Hydrographic surveyors at port authorities, dredging companies, governments and tidal energy firms benefit from the easy and quick setup of the Signature VM Coastal

  • 1000 kHz, 500 kHz, 250 kHz frequency options for coastal surveys up to 200 m depth
  • Fifth echosounder beam for sediment measurements down to the bottom (1000/500 kHz)
  • Simultaneous current and depth information in one place (1000/500 kHz)
Frequency Profiling range Cell size
1000 kHz 30 m 0.2-2 m
500 kHz 70 m 0.5-4 m
250 kHz 200 m 1-8 m

Nortek Signature VM 1000 kHz - Vessel-mounted ADCP


  • Coastal surveys, up to 200 m depth
  • Port and harbor mapping
  • Studies of tidal currents
  • Sediment transport studies
  • Large-scale mixing studies

Nortek Signature VM Ocean ADCP

Signature VM Ocean:

Long-range current profiles in the deeper mesopelagic ocean 

Offshore operations and deep-water investigations benefit from the long profiling range of the Signature VM Ocean, opening new doors in epipelagic and mesopelagic VM ADCP surveys.

  • 100 kHz and 75/55 kHz frequency options for offshore applications up to 1000 m depth
  • Four beams for current profiling with a range over 300 m (100)
  • Optional scientific echosounder with multiple modes for biomass (100)
Frequency Profiling range Cell size
100 kHz 300-400 m 3-15 m
75/55 kHz 685/1000 m 6-20 m


Nortek Signature VM 100 kHz - Vessel-mounted ADCP


  • Offshore operations
  • Internal waves
  • Upper-ocean boundary-layer studies (100)
  • Detection of krill or plankton in the water column (100)
  • Deep-water current profiles, ocean discharge (55)
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Learn about our vessel-mounted current measurement systems used in the field


A tailor-made solution for USVs

The Signature VM range (including both the Coastal and Ocean option) complements USV integration through a combination of unique features and capabilities:

  • Low power consumption enabling long endurance missions.
  • Unrivalled size-to-profiling-range ratio, reducing overall payload requirement and increasing the range of environments and water depths in which you can operate.
  • High sample rate allowing for robust and reliable data, even in high sea states
  • Nortek Service Acquisition Software, reducing reliance on high-bandwidth connections to configure your ADCP and check performance.
  • Combined bottom tracking, current profiling, vertical beam echosounder and single-beam altimeter in one sensor head.

Due to space and power limitations on board Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs), Nortek provides a separate USV package that allows users to integrate the ADCP with pre-existing on-board data-acquisition systems and sensors.

Nortek provides a compact interface box to ensure easy connection and power supply. This makes for a simple, affordable system that guarantees manned-vessel-quality survey data, with the safety and cost benefits of USV operations. The Signature VM can be mounted directly through the hull, on a survey gondola, or on a simple pole mount, making it suitable for small to extra-large USVs.
Signature VM ADCP boat
Signature VM - view data on board the vessel in real time

Watch video: How a vessel-mounted ADCP helps keep a Dutch navigation channel open

Doppler Velocity Log

See what other vessel-mounted technology Nortek has to offer