Transportation System. The Washington-based Office
of Counterterrorism & Defense Operations Policy is
tasked with making sure — among other things —
ports are not disrupted by terrorist attacks, sabotage,
espionage or subversive acts.
The RDC is working on a project to provide the
service with highly accurate images of the subsurface
areas around ports. The goal is to make it easier to
detect potential bombs under the water in port areas or
contraband dumped near a port that smugglers intend
to return to later to pick up.
McCready said his team is developing a tool that
combines high-frequency sonar systems with secondary
processing coupled with precise geo-locating capabilities to provide those images. The tool was used last year
for a drug interdiction mission off the coast of Honduras
and allowed the service to locate more than 7 tons of
contraband inside a scuttled semi-submersible.
Underwater imaging also was used in 2011 to direct
a fleet of vessels to where oil needed to be skimmed
during the massive cleanup effort that followed the
Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The
Coast Guard hopes the tool can be used to monitor
ports during major events that are held near water,
such as Super Bowls or the Republican National
Convention that was held in Tampa, Fla., last fall.
The RDC also is working with imaging technologies
to provide the Coast Guard with precise — and timely
— images of suspected vessels of interest in real-time
situations. The goal — as with the underwater tool —
is to have something that is multipurpose and not just
used for law enforcement scenarios.
Elsewhere, the RDC is working on the Optimizing
Radar Electro-Optic Sensor (OREOS) that would create
a modeling and simulation capability as a cost-effective
methodology to provide results for sensor performance,
according to Judith Connelly, project manager with the
RDC’s C4ISR and special missions branch.
“This capability is new to the Coast Guard. We have
leveraged some of the previous work from the Air
Force and Navy. In particular, their sensor system
modeling works in the Advanced Refractive Effects
Prediction System and Target Acquisition Weapons
[Software],” Connelly said.
While building this technology, the service has
peeled away from the Air Force and Navy models anything that does not have to do with Coast Guard-specific or -unique needs.
The service used OREOS in June during an airborne-and-surface performance test with multiple boats, surface targets and aircraft in the vicinity of Dauphin Island,
Ala. The goal of the test was to work with NATO scientific teams to gather weather and sensor data that would
be used to enhance search-and-rescue procedures.
U.S. COAST GUARD
Coast Guard personnel test a Research and Development
Center prototype underwater imaging system aboard a small
boat on May 12. The system was placed with different
operating units in 2011 to assess its capability and perform-
ance under actual operational and environmental conditions.
The RDC also is working on ways to strengthen cyber
security by working with the intelligence community
and Department of Defense (DoD). Although McCready
said he could not comment on specific work that is being
done, he noted that, “We have major concerns about the
potential for cyber attack and our concern is in the mar-
itime critical infrastructure — we are looking at preven-
tion, detection, awareness and counter exploration.”
Another pressing issue for the Coast Guard is deter-
mining what type of infrastructure is needed in the
Arctic. The service has spent the past five summers
conducting operations in the region to determine just
what is needed along the Northern Slope of Alaska.
The Coast Guard does not have a year-round station
in the Arctic. However, its five-year Arctic plan
includes advancing the national discussion, strengthening and leveraging partnerships, enhancing Arctic
domain awareness and continuing to address the
resources challenges and limitations.
The RDC is working to address the communication
issues that are associated with having sensors in the
region, where the climate is harsh, by considering
everything from making equipment that will be able to
relay accurate and timely information no matter the
weather to building a polar-bear-proof box to protect
“If it gets broken all the time, it won’t be cost-effective
to have something up there. These are the types of
things we are evaluating,” McCready said.
Another cost-saving measure the RDC is looking at
is an alternate way for the service to track icebergs.
Currently, the service has an HC-130 Long Range
Surveillance Aircraft fly over and track them.
“We are seeing if it’s possible to use national or
international satellites that can provide the same kind
of accuracy at a much more cost-effective approach,”
McCready said. ■