Coast Guard sketches maritime plan

The Coast Guard is preparing to lay out exactly how the agency would like to share information with government and industry stakeholders to get a complete picture of every person and product entering the United States by sea.

The document under development is focused on "increased maritime domain awareness."

Rear Adm. Ralph Utley, commander of the 14th Coast Guard district, said the document is modeled after the agency's strategy for the $17 billion Deepwater program, in which the Coast Guard laid out its requirements and then asked industry for the best way to accomplish them.

Deepwater will replace an aging fleet of cutters, aircraft, sensors and the supporting command, control, communications and surveillance systems.

"We're putting together a capstone document that says this is what we want to do, now industry, you tell us how to do it," Utley said during a Nov. 20 speech at AFCEA International's TechNet Asia-Pacific 2002 Conference and Exposition in Honolulu.

The Coast Guard would like to know "everything out there that's coming to the U.S.," Utley told Federal Computer Week. "Who is on the ship, what's in it, and where it is at all times."

Achieving that "increased maritime domain awareness" will require data mined from all the organizations involved, including the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, industry, as well as state and local government agencies, he said.

Another two emerging partners are the Defense Department's new Northern Command, which is charged with homeland defense support, and the soon-to-be ratified Homeland Security Department, he said. The Coast Guard is already working with those two fledgling organizations on trials with day and nighttime cameras in some ports to increase surveillance of U.S. waters, Utley added.

When asked by an audience member if the program could include surveillance aircraft loaded with different sensors for collecting information, Utley said that was one of many possibilities.

"We have very little funding right now," and there is no timeline for when the capstone document will be ready, Utley told Federal Computer Week. "But we're trying to push it — and when the President signs [the Homeland Security Act], a lot of things are going to happen in a hurry."

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