Coast Guard effort to improve port, coastal security capabilities gains speed
By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Assistant Editor
Conversion Taking Shape
At the heart of the IOC conversion is the WatchKeeper information management system — which
will be installed in all of the centers
by the end of 2010. The system will
maintain a common operating picture for each port by consolidating
and displaying information from
various interagency systems of
record and sensor arrays placed
around harbors, its approaches and
critical infrastructure, according to
the Coast Guard.
WatchKeeper will ensure all port
partners share a common tactical
picture for the port. It will be available to anyone at the sector command center who has Internet access.
“We are focusing on developing tools and facilities
that facilitate interagency planning and response activities in port security,” said Cmdr. Ken D. Marien, IOC’s
The IOC project has been in effect in several iterations, first as Command 2010 and then as Command
21, since 2000. But the effort was accelerated by the
Security and Accountability for Every Port Act of
2006, which required the Department of Homeland
Security to establish IOCs at the nation’s highest priority port facilities.
The Coast Guard was given $60 million in a fiscal
2008 appropriation to implement the act. That funding
was slated for two years.
The Charleston Harbor Operations Center, also
known as Project SeaHawk, opened in 2003 after the
Coast Guard received special funding for it from
Congress shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Charleston is considered a major logistics center for
the Department of Defense as it is home to Charleston
Air Force Base and Charleston Naval Weapons Station,
which transport about 40 percent of the military’s
The Security and Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006 and
$60 million from Congress have allowed the Coast Guard to pick up
the pace of its Interagency Operations Centers (IOC) project.
■ The service plans to convert 35 sector command centers at
critical ports to IOCs by 2016.
■ The conversion work typically involves installing additional software and sensors and expanding facility space.
■ IOCs will close significant tactical information gaps critical to
security and interagency coordination in vulnerable port and
The Coast Guard’s first Interagency Operations
Center (IOC), located in Charleston, S.C.,
will be completed later this spring, marking a
major milestone in the service’s effort to upgrade its 35
sector command centers located at critical ports across
the United States, Guam and Puerto Rico.
The IOC project aims to improve situational awareness by automating data fusion, dissemination and
anomaly detection processes, according to the Coast
Guard. IOCs will close significant gaps in the service’s
ability to see, understand and share tactical information critical to security and interagency coordination
in vulnerable port and coastal areas, and provide a central location for this coordination to take place.
Work has begun on, or contracts awarded for, the conversion of nine sector centers in IOCs. The Coast Guard
hopes to have the entire IOC project finished by 2016.
The scope of the work depends on the needs of the
individual command centers. The conversion of a sector command center to an IOC typically will involve
installing additional software and sensors and expanding facility space. In some instances, new facilities are
being built adjacent to the sector command center.
SEAPOWER / MAY 2009