Dozens of container ships and other large ves- sels come into U.S. ports every day, and each one could pose a security threat. But it’s the
small vessels that are the bigger challenge, according to
homeland security officials, because these craft —
such as fishing vessels and pleasure boats — operate in
the maritime domain in such large numbers.
“The overwhelming majority of small vessels operating in and around the United States coasts and in our
ports and inland waterways are engaged in legitimate
activities. However, a small number are platforms for
illegal or illicit activities, such as human and drug trafficking, and may be used for waterborne attacks on our
maritime infrastructure,” said Thomas Tomaiko, program manager, Borders and Maritime Division, Science
and Technology (S&T) Directorate, at the Department
of Homeland Security (DHS).
Law enforcement agencies can only positively identify a small fraction of the small vessels operating along
U.S. coasts and within U.S. ports and waterways at any
given time. One source, the Automatic Identification
System (AIS), automatically identifies vessels and gives
location, course, speed and other ship and voyage
details to avoid collisions. It is required on vessels of
more than 300 tons or engaged in passenger service.
The remaining unknown vessels
are referred to as “small dark vessels,”
which security and law enforcement
officials say require detection and
monitoring to ensure the safety of the
nation’s ports and waterways. And
this requires a technology solution.
According to Tomaiko, “federal
agencies, and a growing number of
state and local law enforcement
agencies, are looking for better
ways to detect, monitor and sort
these small dark vessels in an effective and timely way. In response,
The CSS draws on vast amounts of open-source data
to create a concise, dynamic, large-scale view of a
defined maritime environment so users can locate, track
and prosecute small vessels of interest in real time with
up-to-date geospatial intelligence.
The underlying information technology integration
platform is called SIMON, the Smart Integration
Manager Ontologically Networked Services-Oriented
Architecture platform, which is produced by SRI
International, an independent, nonprofit research
institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. SIMON is both an integration platform and a software development tool.
“Our model is NIEM, the National Information
Exchange Model, which allows us to exchange information and make everything interoperable,” Tomaiko said.
“And we provide the governance, the service and data
exchange agreements, and mechanisms to make it work.”
“We can integrate disparate individual sensors like
radars and cameras and facilitate access to the various
maritime databases to create a more robust and complete MDA picture,” said Gerald Bowe, maritime security operations manager with DHS S&T. “We’re also
‘display agnostic.’ We don’t require or support any par-
Coastal Surveillance System sheds light on ‘dark targets’
for more comprehensive maritime domain awareness
By EDWARD LUNDQUIST, Special Correspondent
Tying Up Loose Ends
Radars and cameras already are installed in ports and harbors,
but not connected together.
n Networking open-source data can create a dynamic, large-scale view of the maritime environment.
n Analyzing the data can help determine which targets need to
n Big border or small, you need to know what’s out there to help
make the decision to act.