SHSS grad foils international pirates

From flying planes to battling pirates on the high seas — Doug Houghton’s career has taken some twists and turns.

  • Mar. 23, 2011 12:00 p.m.
Former Castlegar resident Doug Houghton has invented an electronic surveillance system which helps ships avoid being boarded by pirates.

Former Castlegar resident Doug Houghton has invented an electronic surveillance system which helps ships avoid being boarded by pirates.

From flying planes to battling pirates on the high seas —  Doug Houghton’s career has taken some twists and turns.

Houghton, who grew up in Castlegar, is now president of Current Corporation, based out of Port Moody on the West Coast.

As the company turns 25 this year, they’re busy launching their latest system, Night Navigator SOS, which has become a hot commodity among sailors looking to stay safe from pirate attacks.

But if you asked a teenage Houghton what he would be doing a few decades ago, this likely wouldn’t have been his answer.

“I started flying in Castlegar … when I was 15,” said the grad from the Stanley Humphries Secondary School class of 1972.

“I left Castlegar for Australia in ’72 and worked for an airline in Darwin.”

He came back to complete his commercial pilot’s licence but because he didn’t have perfect vision, he couldn’t get hired. He instead went to Selkirk College to take business administration.

He then moved to the West Coast, got married and had a family and started his company.

He said the business started in the electrical field because he had worked for an electrical business in Castlegar as a teen to pay for his flying lessons. The company took a turn when they started providing night-vision goggles to police forces across the country.

From there, he began to invent new technology.

The newest system, Night Navigator SOS (which stands for “Safety On Seas”) is creating quite a buzz already, with orders coming in from across the world.

Houghton said he thought up the idea for the new system while reading about a Canadian Coast Guard search off the coast of B.C. where extreme adverse weather conditions forced the team to navigate blind by radar and an electronic chart program.

Houghton invented the system, which includes high-definition night vision, high-resolution thermal imaging and high-definition day-time cameras to help keep vessels safe.

Houghton told the Vancouver Sun another use for the system is to help vessels feel safe in the Indian Ocean, an area ships often avoid because of the abundance of pirate activity.

“Usually, pirates board the ship before [the ship’s crew] even know they’re there,” he said. “Our system gives them the most response time by the earliest detection. Then, the ship can increase speed, radio for help, change course or implement on-board safety measures.”

For more information on Houghton’s company, visit:

currentcorp.com.