“Coast Guard first ever Data Strategy guides the way forward for data readiness and well-informed decision making” –MyCG

A family of Link-16 Terminals for Air, Ground, and Sea Platforms. MIDS Family. LVT 1:Provides Link-16, TACAN and Voice for Tactical Air and Surface Vessels. LVT 2: Provides Link-16 for US Army Air Defense Units. LVT 3 – Fighter Data Link: Provides Link-16 with reduced output power for the USAF F-15 fleet. MIDS LVT-1. MIDS LVT-3.

Looks like this might be important. Certainly the goals are laudable. MyCG reports on the Coast Guard’s “Data Strategy.” (I have provided the text below.) The objective that stood out for me was improved cutter connectivity. This inevitably means different things to different people. Are we talking wider availability of tactical data links or more opportunities for second guessing the captain of the cutter? There is limited access to the strategy, so I was not able to look at the original document.

There is a tendency to always want more data and to create a new system and a new reporting requirement. Hopefully this approach will minimize that tendency. The report suggests that is the intention. Let’s hope so.

Hopefully it will also help in making the case for the Coast Guard within the Department, the Administration, and the Congress.


Coast Guard first ever Data Strategy guides the way forward for data readiness and well-informed decision making

By Shana Brouder, MyCG Writer

The first in our service history, the Coast Guard Data Strategy is a critical step for improving data quality and decision making in the Coast Guard for years to come.

“In an era where data generates more revenue than oil, it is crucial that the Coast Guard modernizes its data management to help build and sustain its future force,” said Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz in the Data Strategy.

The strategy’s guiding principles emphasize a user-centric approach, highlighting people as our most important asset and reinforcing the need to more fully support them through the data and technologies they require. With our workforce in mind, the strategy focuses on reducing the burden of manual data collection by crews during daily operations. The strategy also lays out a future that simplifies access to data, enables data analytics across systems and improves security to protect the information collected.

“Almost everyone in the Coast Guard handles data in some sort of way,” said Mark Bortle, acting chief data officer for the Coast Guard. “Ultimately, we want to free up people’s time by automating certain tasks that allow them to do more mission-oriented tasks rather than administrative-oriented tasks.”

Program leaders throughout the fleet provided perspective to the Data Readiness Task Force (DRTF), charged with establishing the processes and governance to improve the scope of what information is collected, and how it should be used.

Reducing Data Redundancies

Capabilities implemented by the DRTF will tie together data from multiple systems. This means accessing data and associated analytics will be simplified and streamlined—making data-driven decisions in real time a reality.

The DRTF will also help identify authoritative data sources, which will help limit redundant data entry and reduce risk of error. Instead of several platforms or sources tracking weigh-in information for members, the structure and processes established by the DRTF will ensure that only one system tracks the data, and remains current.

Improving Data Security 

Streamlining access to data using identity management configuration will ensure only those who should have access to data are the ones who can access it. This will also make accessing data faster and easier.Data Strategy Explained. The first official U.S. Coast Guard Data Strategy, signed in February 2021, is an essential component of the USCG’s Technology Revolution and directly tied to the Coast Guard 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. It aims to improve data quality, which will ultimately lead to better decision making.

The effort ties together both the Tech Revolution and the Coast Guard Strategic Plan—moving both closer to reality. Focusing on data readiness and fostering automation to share data rapidly and accurately will promote a culture in the Coast Guard that embraces evidence-based decision making as part of day-to-day operations.

“The DRTF is implementing five core programs to realize higher data readiness and informed decision making,” said Bortle. “These core programs are Data Governance and Management, Workforce Development, Data Fidelity, Technology Way Forward, and Pilot and Real-time Learning. Our goal is to create a structure within the Coast Guard to make the right information accessible to the right people at the right time from anywhere on any authorized device.”

Additional Resources:

“New Drone Surveillance System to be Deployed on Canadian Coast Guard Vessels in Trials Funded by DRDC” –Kongsberg Geospatial

Image credit: Kongsberg Geospatial

Below is a news release from .Kongsberg Geospatial. It talks about a demonstration of their sensor data management system, called MIDAS, to be conducted with the Canadian Coast Guard, in conjunction with the Martin UAV V-BAT fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS).

What really got my attention is that their illustration, above, appears to indicate that they expect to operate the V-BAT from Hero Class Cutters. These cutters are closely related to the USCG Webber class, but are smaller, 14 feet shorter and over three feet narrower. If they do succeed in operating it off the Hero Class, then we should also be able to operate it off the Webber class cutters.

We have talked about V-BAT before, and in fact, it was operated for a short evaluation from USCGC Harriet Lane. You can read about V-BAT here and here.

Sounds like a very interesting demonstration. Perhaps CG R&D could send an observer.


New Drone Surveillance System to be Deployed on Canadian Coast Guard Vessels in Trials Funded by DRDC

Ottawa, CA: Kongsberg Geospatial announced today that it has been selected by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) to conduct trials of a new long-endurance UAV surveillance system for the Canadian Coast Guard. The Martin UAV V-BAT aircraft was selected to provide the unique ability to combine take off and landing from the small confines aboard ship with the long endurance of a fixed-wing aircraft while carrying multiple sensors.

Combining a unique Vertical Take-off aircraft and new sensor data PED solution allows for rapid collection and analysis of sensor data

The aircraft will communicate with the Kongsberg Geospatial sensor data management system, called MIDAS, which allows a range of sensor data, including full-motion video from unmanned systems to be processed and exploited in near real-time by analysts on board Canadian Coast Guard ships. MIDAS provides the capability to compare historical and live data from the mission area, and to examine sensor data with a variety of tools, including motion and object detection, in near-real time. This near real-time analytical capability can greatly enhance the effectiveness of UAVs for a variety of mission types.

The V-BAT Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) provided by Martin UAV is a fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft specifically designed to operate from very small spaces on ships, land, and nearly any environment. The V-BAT is a long-endurance aircraft capable of carrying multiple sensors, including land and maritime wide area surveillance.

Kongsberg Geospatial’s MIDAS is derived from technologies created for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance project which required the storage and retrieval of vast amounts of intelligence data for Intelligence Analysts. The system directly addresses the problem that the vast majority of UAVs have no standards-compliant capability to process, exploit, and distribute (PED) their sensor data where it is being used. MIDAS provides a fully standards-compliant system that allows intelligence analysts to view, process, and analyze sensor data in near real-time, from where the drone is being operated. MIDAS has packaged these capabilities into a tactical and portable form factor to enables those surveillance capabilities to be deployed as a portable system on board a ship, or in a temporary command post.

CINTIQS Military Technology Consulting will be providing consulting services for the planning and conduct of the flight trials and sensor employment to validate systems performance.

The combination of the Martin UAV V-BAT and the Kongsberg MIDAS sensor data management system will allow Coast Guard vessels to significantly expand their surveillance range for search and rescue missions, and for the surveillance of the movement of icebergs, without requiring the use of manned aircraft.

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“UAVs are a useful tool, but they only truly effective if they can collect sensor data that results in actionable intelligence”, said Ranald McGillis, President of Kongsberg Geospatial. “Our MIDAS system allows users to fully exploit raw sensor data, and derive useful intelligence at the tactical edge where the UAV is being used. In a search and rescue context, that could mean using infrared sensors, or near real-time motion detection to locate a subject when visibility or weather conditions are poor.”

About Kongsberg Geospatial: Based in Ottawa, Canada, Kongsberg Geospatial creates precision real-time software for mapping, geospatial visualization, and situational awareness. The Company’s products are primarily deployed in solutions for air-traffic control, Command and Control, and air defense. Over nearly three decades of providing dependable performance under extreme conditions, Kongsberg Geospatial has become the leading geospatial technology provider for mission-critical applications where lives are on the line. Kongsberg Geospatial is a subsidiary of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace.

Media contact: 1-800-267-2626 or reach us by email at info@kongsberggeospatial.com

About Martin UAV: Based in Plano, TX, the mission of Martin UAV is to build the world’s most advanced unmanned systems. Our technology team specializes in building tactical systems from the ground up, addressing the vast capability gaps left by legacy technologies and current government programs of record around the world. With decades of research and development, our platforms offer cutting edge applications and engineering feats unmatched in the government or commercial sectors of today.

About CINTIQS: Based in Ottawa, Canada, CINTIQS is a veteran-owned and operated MilTech (Military Technology) business focused on helping Canadian technology companies solve the problems that matter most to those in uniform. CINTIQS represents the highest concentration of tactical, operational, and strategic-level military intelligence expertise in Canada. In combination with their technical and industry/business depth, the company provides the expertise you need to succeed in the ultra-competitive global defence market.

About the Canadian Coast Guard: Headquartered in Ottawa, the Canadian Coast Guard is the coast guard of Canada. Founded in 1962, the coast guard is tasked with marine search and rescue, communication, navigation and transportation issues in Canadian waters, such as navigation aids and icebreaking, marine pollution response and providing support for other Canadian government initiatives. The coast guard operates 119 vessels of varying sizes and 22 helicopters, along with a variety of smaller craft.

About DRDC: Based in Ottawa, Canada, Defence Research and Development Canada is the Department of National Defence’s and Canadian Armed Forces’ science and technology organization. DRDC develops and delivers new technical solutions and advice for not only DND/CAF, but also other federal departments, and the safety and security communities.

“The Value of an Extra C – The New C5ISC” –MyCG

An old Deepwater Concept illustration, but you get the idea

Passing this along, because it looks like an important reorganization. It appeared on the MyCG website that I recently added to the “Recommended Blogs” list. This seems to be putting a greater emphasis on cyber. The “Brochure” linked at the bottom of the story gives a nice breakdown of the organization and responsibilities.


The Value of an Extra C – The New C5ISC

By Shana Brouder, MyCG Writer

The Coast Guard has completed the single largest organizational restructuring of a unit in the past decade. In June, the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, and Intelligence Service Center (C5ISC) was established. It replaced its counterpart, the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Information Technology Service Center (C4ITSC) as well as assimilated the three centers of excellence: the Command, Control, and Communications Engineering Center (C3CEN), Telecommunication and Information Systems Command (TISCOM), and the Operations Systems Center (OSC).

The reorganization encompasses over 800 military and civilian personnel. The alignment promises to improve the Coast Guard’s ability to deliver technology solutions at the “speed of need” for mission success. The functional structure of this new unit will underpin and enable the Coast Guard’s Technology Revolution’s five lines of effort: Cutter Connectivity; Modernizing C5I Infrastructure; Cyber Readiness; Software, Mobility and Cloud; and Data for Decisions.

“The commissioning of the new C5I Service Center represents the culmination of over six years of effort from personnel across the Coast Guard to transform the C4ITSC into an organization that will more effectively and efficiently deliver technology solutions for mission success,” explained Capt. Russell Dash, the new C5ISC commander. “Our new structure supports the Coast Guard directly through our six Product Lines, which serve as the focal point and center of gravity for our service delivery. Our robust Shared Service Divisions are designed to make our Product Line Managers successful by providing consistent, standard support including business operations, engineering and infrastructure services, workforce and facilities management, budget and finance, and asset and logistics services. The new organization is now poised to make the Commandant’s Tech Revolution a reality and deliver C5I mission support at the speed of need.”

By standardizing processes and creating intentional mission alignment with other Coast Guard units who also work in the informational technology space (e.g. Surface Forces Logistics Center [SFLC], Aviation Logistics Center [ALC], Shore Infrastructure Logistics Center [SILC], Health, Safety and Work-Life Service Center [HSWL], and Coast Guard Cyber Command [CGCYBER]), the new C5ISC structure enables faster, more nimble responses to technology-related problems.

This fundamental shift in how the Coast Guard delivers C5I capabilities, unifies efforts under a single leadership structure and follows industry-proven standard processes, which will drive efficiency and consistency in every action moving forward.

The few months since the C5I Service Center’s establishment have already reaped successes. For example, the Fleet Logistics System Mobile Asset Manager (FLS-MAM), the supply management tool used by cutter maintenance and supply personnel, was rewritten to ensure this vital program would stay safe and secure from outside threats, such as spyware or other malicious software. Another example includes the delivery of essential satellite communications equipment to the medium endurance Coast Guard Cutter Bear. Members of the C5ISC worked with other offices to provide the Bear, the important backup Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) system it needed to deploy on-time, despite tight time constraints.

Additionally, the C5ISC shared services divisions and product lines partnered with cyber operations and the Eighth District to provide a unified C5I response, which supported contingency operations for Hurricanes Isaias, Laura, Sally, and Tropical Storm Beta.

The C5ISC workforce has been aggressively working to improve the Coast Guard’s information technology infrastructure. More specifically, they have been working to identify the constraints within our external network connections that impact our capacity in the information technology arena and overall cyber resiliency. This became even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent increase the Coast Guard workforce’s teleworking. This dramatic increase in using the Coast Guard’s external network highlighted gaps that the C5ISC is now better placed to resolve, thanks to a more streamlined and cohesive set up. Through various partnerships, including Cyber and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), the C5ISC has made significant headway improving the Coast Guard’s ability to meet missions and strategic goals as outlined in the Technology Revolution Roadmap.

If you have access to the Portal, more information on the C5I Service Center can be found here.

Resources:

Coast Guard Commander Craig Allen talks about challenges with national security cutter connectivity.

HMAS Success (AOR-304) refuelling probe goes in for a hook-up with the US Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Waesche (WMSL-751) as the Royal Australian Navy Auxilliary Oiler Replenishment Ship conducts a dual RAS (Replenishment at Sea) off the coast of Hawaii during the Sea Phase of Exercise RIMPAC 2014, 19 July 2014. (RAN Photo by Leading Seaman Brenton Freind RAN)

The 8 Aug. 2019 US Naval Institute podcast features Cdr. Craig Allen, currently XO of USCGC Waesche discussing the topic of his winning USNI Coast Guard Essay contest.

Despite the title, connectivity on other Coast Guard platforms was also discussed.

The discussion on cutter connectivity doesn’t actually start until about time 10:05. Earlier in the podcast they talk about the Midshipmen and Cadets Essay Contest (deadline 31 Oct. 2019).

He mentions specifically difficult to share UAS data and images. Even so it sounds like the most significant difficulty is that operational data is crowding out administrative data that now can no longer be done offline. 

Sounds like there are three paths that might be pursued that might ease the situation.

First of course is to increase band width, but if that were easy I presume it would have already been done.

There was not discussion of tactical data links, like Link 16, but this is one way to a common shared tactical picture. Reportedly Link16 “supports the exchange of text messages, imagery data and provides two channels of digital voice (2.4 kbit/s and/or 16 kbit/s in any combination).” I am pretty sure the NSC has Link 16, but most Coast Guard units including Webber class, aircraft, and District and Area Commands do not. Moving the tactical information to data links could free bandwidth for administrative tasks. In addition if we ever want our district and area commands to be able to call on DOD assets to respond to a terrorist attack, having access to data link could make it a lot easier.

Third, it sounds like we may have shot ourselves in the foot by eliminating previously acceptable ways to handle administrative matters. Sounds like we are forcing operational units to make it easy for administrative support units, instead of the other way around, as it should be. The extreme measures he describes as required to get the job done should be an embarrassment to the Coast Guard. The administrative system worked before internet. It can work without it. There are ways around these problems.

Kites for Energy Savings and Maritime Domain Awareness

gCaptain is reporting that, since 2012, the Irish Naval Service has been experimenting with using kite sails to give their ships a fuel saving boost and to hoist aloft surveillance equipment up to 300 meters (1000 feet) into the air.  They now consider the technology mature enough to be commercialized.

Putting sensors at 1000 feet gives a horizon distance of 38.7 miles compared with 8.7 miles for a more typical height of 50 feet.

The Irish Naval Service, their missions, and their ships look more like the US Coast Guard than the US Navy. This technology might have applications for the Coast Guard. Perhaps it is worth a look by the Research and Development Center.

It looks like the Navy may be working on something that looks similar, TALONS, but is only intended to hoist sensors, not improve fuel economy.

Mini-Aegis Possible for Corvette (or Cutter) Sized Ships

NavyRecognition reports on the presentation of the Raytheon’s AN/SPY6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar at the recently completed SEA-AIR-SPACE trade show.

This is the radar that has been selected to go on the Flight III version of the Burke class DDG. Most of the emphasis has been on larger installations, but the good news for the Coast Guard is that these systems are modular, based on two foot square elements than each constitute a separate radar, so that it can be scaled down as well as up. These fixed arrays would normally be arranged with four arrays positioned to each cover a 90 degree sector. Raytheon claims arrays consisting of nine elements arranged in a 3×3 square (6 ft x 6 ft) provides performance similar to the 12 foot octagonal AN/SPY-1D on existing Burke class DDGs. It appears the intention is that the Flight III ships will have roughly octagonal arrays consisting of 37 elements, 14 foot across. There is also an option for an even larger array of 69 elements in an octagonal 18 foot diameter array.

These radars are reportedly capable of performing virtually every type of radar function including air and surface search and firecontrol. Reportedly the radar will be “qualified” in 2017 and the initial operational capability will be attained in 2023, presumably with the first flight III DDG.

When might we consider using these?

The Bertholf was commissioned in 2008 so the class will start needing mid-life renovations some time after 2023.

The Offshore Patrol Cutter construction program is expected to be stretched out with funding over 15 years and deliveries will probably extend from FY2021 to FY2035. Over so long a period it would not be unreasonable to expect that there will be a “B class” with updated systems. By that time, these systems may be so common it may be reasonable to replace the planned radar suite with these fixed systems.

At the very least, at some point it might be advisable to convert at least one of each class to accept this or a similar system as a prototype for war emergency conversion. This might be something DOD would pay for.

State of the Coast Guard Address–2015

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft delivers his first State of the Coast Guard Address and outlines how America’s Coast Guard will meet the challenges of today while preparing for complexities that remain ahead. U.S. Coast Guard video by Telfair. H. Brown, Sr.

The Commandant has issued his State of the Coast Guard address, and I think you will find it well said, even inspiring. You can watch it above or read more here.

State-of-the-Coast-Guard-2015-560x399

Coast Guard Budget and Charlie Hebdo

Defensenews reports,

“When the Hill passed its spending bill in December, it excluded DHS, instead putting the agency under a three-month continuing resolution while the Republican-controlled Congress sought to challenge President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration.

“Asked about the DHS funds days after the Paris attacks, newly re-elected House Speaker John Boehner, R- Ohio, said “I don’t believe that the funding of the department is in fact at risk.” Meanwhile, Senate Appropriations Committee member Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D, indicated “more has to be done” to prevent such attacks, which could include an increase of funds.” (Emphasis applied–Chuck)

Should the Coast Guard play the terrorism card in a push for increased funding?
I hate to push fear as a justification for funding but keep a couple of things in mind.

  • If the electorate and their representatives are afraid, maybe they are right, maybe there is a threat.
  • Funding for Coast Guard counter-terrorism capabilities is a lot more relevant to the threat than funding for Navy high end warships, Air Force F-35s, or Army theater ballistic missile defense systems.
  • Improvements that help the Coast Guard deal with terrorism, including better comms, better Maritime Domain Awareness, and better sensors can also help the Coast Guard do a better job on their other missions.

The Department of Homeland Security seems to have a fixation on terrorism that the Coast Guard seems to have viewed with some skepticism. As a result while Departmental funding has continued to increase, Coast Guard funding has actually declined. We have been out of step with Department priorities.

Perhaps it is time to embrace the Department’s priorities.

It does seem the world is becoming a more dangerous place.

The house is pushing a bill that would have DHS strengthen the southern border including more aircraft.

Are they really worried about the right threats? Really, we should be talking about what we should be afraid of, and that should include the introduction of a nuclear device which most likely to come by sea.

The Pentagon wants $350B to modernize Nuclear deterrents, new SSBNs, new ICBMs, and new nuclear bombers, none of which will have any deterrent effect on terrorists. And after all will $350B for deterrence be any more effective than $320B?

Perhaps it would make sense to spend $1B more a year on the Service that is most likely to be on the line if terrorists attempt to bring a weapon of mass destruction into the US, when most of that money is expected to be spent over the long term anyway.

If the Coast Guard is going to embrace counter terrorism as a priority, the service needs to act like it believes a terrorist attack is a possibility and ask to be armed appropriately to deal with terrorist threats, a 7.62 mm machine gun on a 25 foot boat will not cut it.

It the Coast Guard is to have a creditable capability, it will need small highly accurate missiles like Griffin, Hellfire, or Brimstone to deal with relatively small, fast, highly maneuverable threats and light weight torpedoes to deal with larger, hard to stop threats. We also need to get modern reliable patrol vessels or aircraft armed with these weapons spread out geographically to cover all our ports.

Maritime Domain Awareness?

The Acquisitions Directorate is reporting purchase of equipment to complete the Nationwide Automatic Identification System. US regulations will require most vessels in US waters 65 foot and longer to participate.

This should be a boon to SAR. It has the potential to help the Coast Guard in many ways. Still we should not forget, the information is only as good as the cooperation of the participating vessels. Vessels that choose not to cooperate by either not transmitting, or by transmitting bogus data, for whatever reason, will either not show up at all or will be improperly identified.