“That volume of data and the
number of partners, the number of
entities that are interested in receiving and sharing data, represents a
significant challenge in terms of
how do you do that efficiently and
effectively,” Ingalsbe said.
The Coast Guard will work closely with Northrop over the next 12-24
months to come up with an enterprise service bus solution, or software architecture construct, that will
allow all government agencies to use
Coast Guard’s NAIS and data, he said.
“We want to make NAIS a net-centric service and capability,” Ingalsbe said.
The NAIS project was developed by the Department of Homeland Security.
Communication Area Master
Stations — which handle data and
communications traffic in the Coast Guard’s Pacific
and Atlantic areas of operations — also receive large
volumes of information from service and civilian vessels. The stations, located in Point Reyes, Calif., and
Chesapeake, Va., face the same challenge of sorting
through and prioritizing all of the voice communications, weather warnings, safety information and distress calls that come in.
“I believe that it’s a matter of finding what is important information, what is unimportant information, and
getting the importation information out to the decision-makers,” Neve said. “We need to reach the point [where
we] can get right to the point of whatever the concern is,
whether it’s a national defense issue, whether it’s a suspected drug runner or illegal migrant trafficker.”
He added that the key to continuing to improve the
service’s network communications capabilities is having larger bandwidth pipes built for multiple data
“As far as capability, the Holy Grail is that all information from all assets is combined in near real time,
and can be viewed by any of the contributing assets,
operations centers or anyone else that is able to get on
the network and has permission,” Neve said.
The Coast Guard’s air assets pose a unique communications challenge because of the speeds at which
they travel and the relatively restricted space they have
onboard for antennas and network gear. New mission
system pallets aboard the HC-144A Medium Range
Surveillance Aircraft have helped address the issue,
said James Martin, commanding officer of the C-130J
U.S. COAST GUARD
The Coast Guard’s newest air asset, the HC-144A Medium Range Surveillance
Aircraft, includes a roll-on, roll-off mission system pallet that allows the aircrew
to compile data from the plane’s integrated sensors and transmit and receive
information to and from surface vessels, other aircraft, local law enforcement
and shore facilities.
According to the Coast Guard, the mission system pallet is a roll-on, roll-off suite of electronic equipment that
enables the aircrew to compile data from the aircraft’s multiple integrated sensors and transmit and receive information to and from other assets, including surface vessels,
other aircraft, local law enforcement and shore facilities.
“It’s an integrated system, so [where] before you
couldn’t have the sensor track automatically to a radar
contact, we can do that now, both with the mission system pallet going into the HC-144 and the systems going
into the C-130J,” Martin said.
The C-130J is being outfitted with interoperable
mission systems for long-range surveillance.
The service signed a $150 million Delivery/Task
Order contract with Integrated Coast Guard Systems,
the Northrop Grumman/Lockheed Martin partnership
that is the lead contractor on the 24-year, $25 billion
Deepwater recapitalization program, Nov. 17 to have
five more pallets delivered by September 2010, bringing the total to 12. That contract includes delivery of
three HC-144 aircraft by November 2010.
Improving Coast Guard communication capabilities
during an uncertain economy can be tricky, especially
when some of the assets are aging quickly.
“With the budget the way it is, we have to very carefully prioritize scheduling as far as when the new ships
are coming online and how much longer our in-service
cutters will continue operating, and make sure they
meet the requirements. So obviously we don’t want to
employ a whole lot of new technology and expend a lot
of budget on a ship we are going to decommission in
two or three years,” Neve said. ■