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Coast Guard Technologies

Looking Within and Looking Beyond the Far Horizon

February 14, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Internal change may be the key to managing external change as the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Coast Guard enter a new era of limited budgets and unlimited global challenges. From research and development to acquisition, these services are looking toward changing methods and technologies to keep the force viable and accomplish their missions. Meanwhile, a range of adversaries continue striving to find and exploit weaknesses in U.S. capabilities and operations.

The Coast Guard Needs Affordable Systems

February 13, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Coast Guard wants contractors to provide it with affordable systems instead of top-of-the-line technology solutions, said its commandant. Adm. Robert J .Papp Jr., USCG, told the audience at the West 2014 Thursday luncheon town hall in San Diego that everything the Coast Guard does is within a constrained environment, and it needs solutions that don’t strain its already tight financial resources.

Coast Guard Develops Indigenous Technologies for Cutters

March 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

By the end of this fiscal year, the next-generation command and control system for much of the cutter fleet should be installed on the U.S. Coast Guard’s 270-foot cutter class, and the system is now being considered for inclusion on 225-foot and 110-foot vessels. The system, called SeaWatch, combines navigational and tactical, optical surveillance and communications into one situational awareness picture; provides commonality across the fleet; and replaces an aging system that has outlived its usefulness.

Seeking Smoother Interoperability Waters

February 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

When the U.S. Coast Guard fields its newest cutter next year, the ship will be equipped with an information technology package that offers common tools and capabilities among the cutter and aviation fleets. The technology suite will improve interoperability across the service and with other agencies, and it enhances situational awareness while providing flexibility for future upgrades.

The Coast Guard’s aviation platforms already have been equipped with the second generation, or Segment 2 Command and Control System, of the technology baseline package developed under the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) project. The project is a multiyear effort to design, develop and integrate the equipment on the Coast Guard’s newest assets, including the national security cutter (NSC), long-range surveillance aircraft and the medium-range surveillance aircraft.

Vote for the Coast Guard Video of the Year

December 18, 2013

The U.S. Coast Guard will release its 2013 Top 10 videos on December 22, highlighting its achievements and asking members of the public to vote for their favorites. The Coast Guard Compass will publish one of the 10 videos each day beginning Sunday. Each video will include commentary from a service member who participated in the mission.

The Bottom Line: Revolution Through Evolution

November 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

The bottom line is that today's military structure is not set up to foster creative solutions and incorporate them into the bureaucracy, but a revolution quietly erupted in October. More than 80 innovators came together to discuss their ideas about how to solve some of the military's most vexing problems.

A Joint Environment Changes Everything

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., USCG, assistant U.S. Coast Guard commandant for command, control, communications and information technology, sees the Joint Information Environment as an opportunity to resolve some of the most pressing information technology problems in the years to come as he faces a future with more challenges and fewer resources. He says a military-wide common operating environment will establish “enterprisewide mandates that programs cannot ignore.”

The admiral told the recent AFCEA Solutions Series–George Mason University Symposium, “Critical Issues in C4I,” the Joint Information Environment (JIE) will allow for more efficient system configurations and facilitate consolidation of the Coast Guard’s information technology work force. As the director of the U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command, he also is mindful that the JIE will improve his ability to control what devices are attached to the network, giving him, for example, the opportunity to quickly detect and order the removal of an unauthorized USB thumb drive inserted into a secure network computer.

Hewing to the reality of doing more with less, the admiral also told conference attendees that within the next eight months, the Coast Guard is expected to move to the U.S. Defense Department’s enterprise email system. Adm. Day stated that even though this move initially may cost more in some cases, the long-term benefits to the service will mitigate and justify some of those costs. In addition, acknowledging the futility of reinventing the wheel, he noted that the Coast Guard is adopting the U.S. Air Force’s Virtual Flight Bag, which replaces nearly 300 pounds of printed manuals and charts carried aboard aircraft by crews. Apple iPads will be loaded with digital copies of the same material.

Coast Guard Adopts a 
High-Frequency Solution

May 1, 2013
By Arthur Allen and Zdenka Willis

The synergy between operational planning and radar sensing provides enhanced search and rescue capabilities.

The U.S. Coast Guard is combining high-frequency coastal radar data with traditional oceanographic and geographic information to improve its chances of rescuing people in distress on the high seas. By merging these different sources of data, the Coast Guard enhances its search abilities while also providing better weather prediction for both its search and rescue teams and an endangered public in coastal areas.

This combining of different data types requires more than just technological interoperability. It also mandates cooperation between two different government organizations: the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Both groups have been expanding their cooperation, and the results have been synergistic.

The utility of this approach was demonstrated when Superstorm Sandy struck the Eastern Seaboard in October 2012. The Coast Guard prosecuted 159 search and rescue (SAR) cases before, during and after Sandy made landfall. One of those cases was the sailing vessel HMS Bounty, which foundered and sank at the height of the storm off the coast of North Carolina. Aircrews from Air Station Elizabeth City plucked 14 crewmembers from the raging seas that night.

Two Bounty crewmembers did not survive—Claudene Christian, whose body was recovered, and the captain, Robin Walbridge, who was lost to the sea. In addition to two helicopters, a C-130 Hercules aircraft, an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft, the high-endurance cutter Gallatin (WHEC-721) and the seagoing buoy tender Elm (WLB-204) supported the four-day search covering some 12,000 square miles of ocean, battling 30-foot seas and 60-knot winds, trying, ultimately in vain, to locate Captain Walbridge.

Meet Vince Patton, Ed.D., Vice President, Homeland Security Programs

December 17, 2012
By Rachel Eisenhower

After growing up as the fifth child out of 10, it comes as no surprise that Master Chief Petty Officer Vince Patton, USCG (Ret.), thrives as part of a team. He joined AFCEA International in 2011 and recently took the helm of the newly established Homeland Security Department. It’s the latest role in a career that has taken Patton across the globe, from Coast Guard cutters to classrooms and beyond.

Coast Guard Logistics Learns Social Media

April 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman

A future U.S. Coast Guard acquisition strategy may owe its design to social media such as a wiki and an interactive blog site. That is not to say that those activities will define the architecture of the new acquisition strategy; that particular decision is well in the future. What the Coast Guard is doing right now is using social media to develop its new acquisition strategy transparently and collaboratively.

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