“Our biggest concern is the interdiction of drugs,
firearms and people from the south coming out
through Turks and Caicos and then trying to go on-
ward to the U.S. or the Bahamas,” said Turks and
Caicos Islands Police Commissioner Colin Farquhar.
“We have 40 islands and keys, so it’s challenging to
manage all the borders in a really effective manner.”
Farquhar said technology is changing tactics.
“Three years ago, our style of patrolling or policing
this area was different than it is now,” he said. “Our
personnel would go out in one of our larger boats and
wait for illegal vessels. The Ministry of Border Control
and Labour commissioned a coastal radar station in
September 2012 to respond to targets of interest with a
high degree of precision. Now we use the coastal radar
to detect a sloop or a vessel, and we’ll deploy our go-
fast boat, with three 250-horsepower engines on it, so
it’s quite fast and it can get out there and respond. We
can then check out the target, and then decide if we
need our bigger vessel out there to help support.”
The Turks and Caicos Islands employ a Terma
SCANTER radar similar to the one being used in the CSS
“If we could get several radar sites that are all linked
and can support each other and cue each other to track
or investigate certain vessels, that would be really special for this area,” Farquhar said.
The technology also can be used as a deterrent.
“We are working with the authorities in Haiti to help
make the people of Haiti aware of the danger of trying to
leave by boat,” Turks and Caicos Islands Permanent
Secretary for Border Control and Labour Clara Gardiner
said. “We want them to understand that it’s not worth the
expense of paying a smuggler to get them out.”
She said the CSS is effective for both security and safety.
“When the radar detects a target, the police can then
go out quite quickly and investigate that target, and do
whatever is necessary to bring in people safely to
shore, as well as the vessel,” Gardiner said.
Fill the Screen With Targets
It’s one thing to collect the data, and another to analyze
it and determine what needs to be acted upon.
“If everyone has a piece of the puzzle, and we’re all
just looking at our own puzzle pieces and we’re not
sharing our puzzle pieces, we’re not going to be able to
create a picture,” Tomaiko said. “We can sit there and
look at our puzzle pieces and we’ll never get anywhere
until we start sharing information, aggregating it and
analyzing the aggregated information, and we’ll be able
to put that picture together.”
“One of the goals is to detect everything in the mar-
itime domain and fill the screen with as many contacts as
possible, then remove those targets that are not a threat so
we can focus our efforts on the fewer targets that we know
little about,” Bowe said. “We want to see as many contacts
on that screen as we can, and then apply all our knowl-
edge and processes to start peeling them off in layers.
“On a Sunday afternoon, there may be 400 targets
coming back from the Bahamas through the Florida
Straits. Maybe 20 percent of them are squawking on AIS.
The rest are essentially ‘dark targets’ and we know that
some of these vessels are smuggling contraband into the
U.S. via this Bahamas to Florida route. So we need to
apply all our available knowledge and processes to those
targets to determine where we need to focus our interdic-
tion efforts. Basically we are attempting to classify and
remove all the known ‘good guys.’ A complicated task.”
With all the small craft off Southern California, it can
be easy to overlook a small wooden panga boat coming
up from Mexico with up to 5,000 pounds of marijuana
onboard. According to AMOC executive director Tony
Crowder, Southern California has a real and constant
“We need better tools to efficiently go after these tar-
gets. This is also true of other maritime regions, such as
the Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, South Florida, Gulf
of Mexico and South Texas,” he said. “CSS will bring an
enhanced MDA [maritime domain awareness] capabil-
ity that not only supports finding more bad guys, but
allows us to save money going after the bad guys.
Uninformed patrolling is more costly than cued and
“Give me a complete picture that’s going to enable
me to see that target and analyze it and decide if it’s
something worth deploying assets,” Savala said. “If we
have to send people out, then let’s go. But let’s have
them out there for a purpose.” n
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 34 SEAPOWER / OCTOBER 2013
A boat crew from U.S. Coast Guard Station San Diego
tows a panga boat that was seized during a maritime smug-
gling interdiction off the coast of California to a pier in San
Diego, Aug. 3. Two suspects were taken into custody, and
authorities seized the boat and 51 bales of marijuana.