Coast Guard works to save money by repurposing
existing, emerging technologies for broader applications
By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Associate Editor
ers, intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance (C4ISR) branch.
“Our work looks at actually trying
to find and adapt existing capability
to enhance and significantly improve
operational effect,” he said, “at the
same time we delve down into
emerging and evolving technology so
that we can stay ahead of both the
commercial and any DoD [Depart-
ment of Defense] missions or intelli-
gence missions or law-enforcement
missions the Coast Guard has.”
Part of that adaptation comes
with bringing technologies that are
currently mature, and often used,
McCready said the technology is not new, but its use
by the Coast Guard is.
To aid in the drug interdiction process, the RDC is
working on a tracking project that would make spotting contraband suspected smugglers try to dump off
vessels easier to locate. The portable, throwaway tracker would use different types of technology and tracking
methods to allow the Coast Guard to continue pursuing a suspected smuggler instead of having to stay with
the contraband. The technologies range from the
Automatic Identification System (AIS) to a simple
strobe light or a specific color dye that floats and stays
with the contraband, even if it sinks.
“It’s not new, it’s adapting and combining,”
One of the Coast Guard’s 11 core missions is protecting the U.S. maritime domain and the Marine
The Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) is
looking to enhance and adapt current technologies that will have
multipurpose, cost-effective uses with the service.
■ The RDC is working on technology that would provide the service with highly accurate images of the subsurface areas around
■ It also is working on an Optimizing Radar Electro-Optic Sensor
that would create a sensor-based modeling and simulation capability.
■ An imaging tool developed by the RDC was used last year to
locate more than 7 tons of contraband inside a semi-submersible
that was scuttled during an interdiction off of Honduras.
The Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) is working on a variety projects — from complex, underwater imaging software to the unique, polar-bear-proof sensor boxes
along the Northern Slope in Alaska — to enhance and
adapt technologies for multipurpose, cost-effective use
by the service.
The New London, Conn.-based RDC is tasked with
developing more capable, interoperable assets and systems that support the service’s mission execution. As the
Coast Guard is nearly halfway through its $30-billion,
25-year fleet modernization program, it will be looking
to save money in the years ahead, especially as
Washington tries to rein in defense and homeland security budgets in an effort to trim the nation’s debt.
That means the RDC will be looking at improving current technologies, rather than developing new ones, and
making sure asset such as sensors have multiple uses.
“We are looking at how to adapt some emerging
technologies to Coast Guard use and across all missions of the service,” said Jack McCready, chief of the
RDC’s command, control, communications, comput-