“Japanese PM Kishida Lays Out Indo-Pacific Strategy in Shangri-La Speech” –USNI

Japanese built Philippine CG cutter BRP Teresa Magbanua during sea trials off Japan (Photo: Philippine Coast Guard)

The US Naval Institute News Service reports on a speech by Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida before the Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue forum in Singapore.

During his speech, Kishida also spoke about Japan’s planned efforts to strengthen nations in the Indo-Pacific both in security and economic aspects. The security side will include transferring patrol boats in the region, strengthening regional maritime law enforcement capabilities (emphasis applied–Chuck) and providing defense equipment and technology transfers. Singapore is one of the countries that will sign a defense equipment and technology transfer agreement with Japan.

As China has become more agressive in its behavior, Japan has been a lot more active in reaching out to help friendly nations. It appears they have decided to provide an Asian nation alternative to Chinese hegemony. One of the ways they have done this is transfer of vessels to conduct coast guard functions on favorable terms. We have already seen this with the Philippines (and here), Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

We have also seen increased interaction between the Japan Coast Guard and the USCG here, here, here, and here. Japan seems to be promoting coast guards as a way to maintain rules based international norms and may be looking to create an international consensus on coast guard behavior to promote cooperation and interoperability. They are looking at their own Coast Guard’s role as well. They seem to be looking to the USCG as an allied, internationally recognized example of proper coast guard functions to help achieve this consensus.

“LET THE NAVY RETIRE LCS AND BUILD A U.S. MARITIME CONSTABULARY INSTEAD” –CIMSEC

Indonesian Maritime Security Agency vessel KN Tanjung Datu, left, sails alongside U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton during joint exercises in the Singapore Strait in August 2019. IMAGE CREDIT: PO1 LEVI READ/USCG

CIMSEC has an opinion piece written by Bryan Clark and Craig Hooper, both influential defense journalists, that advocates,

The Congress and DoD leadership should embrace the Navy’s focus on high-end warfare by shifting security and training missions to ships operated by other services, specifically the Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command. Congressional leaders have expressed interest in adding defense-related spending to the White House FY2023 budget proposal, which could build more of the existing ships the Coast Guard and MSC would use. And to operate them, the up to $2 billion in annual LCS sustainment, basing costs, and manpower funding could be moved to these new mission owners. If the Navy sheds the small boat mission, the costs should be taken out of the Navy’s budget.

We have seen that, to some extent, this has already taken place, but without the movement of money to the new providers.

The Navy hopes to save money by retiring LCS, so they can put money in other Navy programs, not so that they can hand it over to another agency (although, yes, MSC is really part of the Navy).

Navy seamanship training has had a lot problems recently, and I think a lot of that can be traced to the lack of smaller vessels with smaller wardrooms, where junior officers can get more experience in shiphandling. The Navy does not allow their surface warfare officers to specialize on their first tour. They are supposed to learn about complex engineering and weapons as well as seamanship and deck watch standing while serving on ships that may have many times the number of JOs that are on CG ships. The Navy is eight times the size of the Coast Guard, but the Coast Guard has almost as many wardrooms as the Navy. The Coast Guard has roughly 250 coastal and ocean-going cutters, patrol ships, buoy tenders, tugs, and icebreakers; as well as nearly 2,000 small boats and specialized craft. The US Navy has about 296 ships and a number of those are manned by civilian mariners of the MSC. On top of that, Navy ships are generally underway a smaller percentage of the time than Coast Guard ships, and Coast Guard vessels operate more frequently in high traffic coastal areas. It should not be surprising that Navy officers in general have less seamanship experience than their Coast Guard and merchant marine counterparts.  Unless the Navy develops a cadre of ship driving specialists, shedding their smaller ships will only exacerbate the problem.

Copenhagen Declaration, Blue Justice Initiative

We are seeing what appears to be growing international cooperation to curb Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and with it, other forms of maritime criminal activity frequently associated with it. A basis for this cooperation is found in the non-binding UN Copenhagen Declaration, Blue Justice Initiative. 48 Nations have signed on to the declaration. It is basically a letter of intent to cooperate. It is reproduced at the end of the post. Notably it has not been endorsed by the US, Canada, UK, France, Australia, New Zealand, India, or China, but this is very important to many smaller nations. I would think the US Coast Guard would be all-in on this. It certainly does not preclude the kinds of bilateral agreements the Coast Guard has with dozens of nations.

How did I learn about this Declaration?

NORTHCOM’s on-line magazine, The Watch, reported on a March 2022 meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM). This led me to look for more information on this organization. 

Below is the CRFM report on the meeting. Additional comments follow.


Belize City, Friday, 18 March 2022 (CRFM)—The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) hosted a Technical Meeting on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Organized Crime in the Fishing Industry this week. It marked an important milestone in the region’s efforts to fortify the region’s response to this very challenging and costly problem, through coordinated action at both the national and regional levels, with the support of the Government of Norway and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the Blue Justice Initiative.

The CRFM, its Member States, and partner agencies both at the CARICOM and international levels committed to advancing their collaboration using modern digital technology, to strengthen the region’s response to illegal fishing and transnational organized criminal activities, such as drugs, human and small arms trafficking, trade in contraband goods, document fraud and forgery, tax crimes, and money laundering, which use commercial and recreational fishing as a cover for their activities.

Last October, during a high-level meeting of CRFM Ministers, twelve (12) Member States signed the International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also endorsed the Blue Justice Initiative, which supports developing countries in operationalizing the Copenhagen Declaration, aimed at “promoting a sustainable and fair Blue Economy for all, that is free from fisheries crime.”

The CRFM and CARICOM IMPACS convened the technical meeting of senior fisheries and maritime law enforcement officers to identify priority actions to strengthen regional and international cooperation to combat and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fisheries sector. The event marked an important milestone for the Caribbean region in collectively combating the scourge of crime connected with the fishing sector.

Over 90 participants from 15 Member States of the CRFM and representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat, the CRFM, CARICOM IMPACS, the Regional Security System (RSS), UNDP and the Government of Norway participated in the virtual session.

The meeting featured a diverse array of speakers who provided participants with insights on the Blue Justice Initiative and ‘Copenhagen Declaration, the UNDP Blue Resilience Project and its use of digital technology and institutional cooperation, tools and techniques to detect and analyze fisheries crime, and a general overview of fisheries crime in the Caribbean. Participants engaged in interactive sessions, as they contributed to charting the way forward.

In addressing the gathering, Hon. Saboto Caesar, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, and Chair of the Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, said: “The fight globally has increased against IUU fishing and organized crime, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Member States of the CRFM continue to honor our duty… It is our quest in the Caribbean to partner with all international agencies to ensure that we reduce criminal activities when it comes to the Blue Economy. We intend to work with regional and international partners and other friendly governments such as Norway… because every Member State in the global community must play an important role.”

CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton noted the seriousness and impacts of illegal and criminal activities in the fisheries sector and expressed the CRFM’s appreciation for Norway’s commitment to the sustainable use of ocean resources, through the Blue Justice Initiative and the Copenhagen Declaration. He thanked the Government of Norway and the UNDP for supporting the region in its efforts to help address this intractable problem.

Important Dates:

15 October 2018:

The Copenhagen Declaration was initially adopted by 9 countries: Faroe Islands, Ghana, Indonesia, Kiribati, Namibia, Norway, Palau, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka.

10 December 2020:

Several Ministers responsible for Fisheries from the CARICOM / CRFM Member States took part in a virtual High-Level International Blue Justice Conference that was convened by the Government of Norway. The main purpose of the Conference was to promote and advance political support for the non-binding Copenhagen Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the fishing industry.

 21 May 2021:

At the Fifteenth Meeting of the Ministerial Council of the CRFM, Ministers discussed the issues and recognized the need for Member States to cooperate with other affected countries to improve understanding and knowledge of the problem, identify countermeasures, and build capacity to prevent, deter and eradicate IUU fishing and transnational organized crime in the fishing industry, in the region and globally. The Ministers issued Resolution No. MC 15(6) of 2021, documenting their position.

 4 October 2021:

During a special ministerial meeting, several Ministers from the Caribbean Community responsible for Fisheries, the Blue Economy and related matters, delivered official statements endorsing The International Declaration on Transnational Organized Crime in the Global Fishing Industry (also known as the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’). They also affirmed their support for the Blue Justice Initiative, established by the Government of Norway to support implementation of the declaration. (View the proceedings and country statementshere.)

Twelve (12) CRFM Member States, The Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and The Turks and Caicos Islands, signed the Copenhagen Declaration on this occasion.


This in turn led me to a CRFM report of a 5-8 April Ministerial Meeting of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), an organization of 79 member states. Seeing this degree of widespread interest, I had to look up the declaration.


THE DECLARATION

We, the Ministers of Benin, Chile, Costa Rica, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Ghana, Greenland, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Kiribati, Liberia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Philippines, São Tomè and Principe, Scotland, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste and Uruguay;

Encourage other Ministers to support this non-legally binding declaration.

Note the recommendations and the outcome of the 2nd International Symposium on Fisheries Crime held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia 10–11 October 2016 which was published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime at the occasion of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice during its twenty-sixth session in Vienna 22–26 May 2017.

Recognize that our countries are dependent on the sea and its resources and the opportunities it holds for the economy, food and well-being of our population and we are determined to support a healthy and thriving fishing industry that is based on fair competition and the sustainable use of the ocean.

Are committed to work towards the fulfillment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals particularly in relation to Goal 14 on “Life Below Water” and Goal 16 on “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.”

Are convinced that there is a need for the world community to recognize the existence of transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry and that this activity has a serious effect on the economy, distorts markets, harms the environment and undermines human rights.

Recognize that this transnational activity includes crimes committed through the whole fisheries supply and value chain which includes illegal fishing, corruption, tax and customs fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, document fraud and human trafficking.

Recognize further the inter-continental flow of illegal fish products, illicit money and human trafficking victims in transnational organized crime cases in the global fishing industry and that all regions of the world need to cooperate when investigating such acts

Are convinced that inter-agency cooperation between relevant governmental agencies is essential at a national, regional and international level in order to prevent, combat and eradicate transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry,

Are also convinced that there is a need for international cooperation and that developing countries are particularly affected.

Recognize the particular vulnerability of small-island developing states and other Large Ocean Nations of the impact of transnational organized crime in the global fishing industry.

Are also convinced the need for continuous support on the highest level and the necessity for awareness raising on these issues through events such as the International FishCrime Symposium.

“SELECTION OF THE DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS AND FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR (DCO-I)” –News Release

Looks like more evidence of the Coast Guard’s increasing role in international affairs and foreign military sales.

Ms. Haverstick led and completed extraordinary projects valued at over $25B between international partners, the White House, interagency, and military departments for advanced technology acquisitions.”

That sounds pretty heavy weight.

united states coast guard

R 211444Z APR 22 MID200001687843U
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC
TO ALCOAST
BT
UNCLAS
ALCOAST 144/22
SSIC 12920
SUBJ: SELECTION OF THE DIRECTOR OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS AND
FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR (DCO-I)
1. I am pleased to announce the selection of Ms. Holly Haverstick
as the Coast Guard’s Director of International Affairs and Foreign
Policy Advisor.
2. This position serves as the Coast Guard’s key policy advisor on
the complete range of international affairs and engagement
activities. The Director is responsible for developing,
coordinating, and implementing agency strategy, policies, and
programs related to the Coast Guard’s international activities.
In addition, the Director serves as the Executive Agent for the
International Affairs Executive Steering Group (IAESG), which
develops recommended strategies, policies, and direction
regarding the Agency’s international engagement.
3. Ms. Haverstick’s 19 years of federal service have covered
international engagement, security cooperation, strategy, and
foreign military sales (FMS). She has applied her expert knowledge
of global foreign affairs issues to execute national security
priorities and led Department of Defense (DoD) efforts to
develop the 2018 Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) policy and
associated Implementation Plan. She furthered DoD’s incorporation of
the CAT Policy into overarching security cooperation reform strategy
for the comprehensive security cooperation enterprise. In addition,
she has led U.S. efforts to win numerous multi-billion dollar
international defense competitions resulting in more capable
international partners and a more substantial U.S. defense
industrial base.
4. As the Deputy Assistant Director for Weapons with the Defense
Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), Ms. Haverstick was responsible
for leading DSCA’s vision of effective and timely technology
security and foreign disclosure aspects of security cooperation,
where she routinely briefed Congressional staff on strategy and
technical aspects of proposed sales. In addition, Ms. Haverstick led
and completed extraordinary projects valued at over $25B between
international partners, the White House, interagency, and military
departments for advanced technology acquisitions. During a
transition for DSCA, Ms. Haverstick served as the Acting Principal
Director for Strategy where she led both military and civilian
members.
5. Ms. Haverstick will become a member of the Senior Executive
Service with the U.S. Coast Guard on 24 APR 2022.
6. USCG Executive Resources POC: Ms. Brianne Alvis
(Brianne.E.Alvis@uscg.mil).
7. ADM Karl L. Schultz, Commandant (CCG), sends.
8. Internet release is authorized.

WPB87 transfers

Former Coast Guard Cutters Albacore, Cochito and Gannet are among six cutters currently at Coast Guard Yard awaiting upgrade and outfitting before transfer to Uruguay and Lebanon. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Just wanted to pass along this photo and its caption which refers to transfers not only to Uruguay but also to Lebanon. The photo was found here.

There was also a report of additional interaction with Lebanese armed forces here.

Coast Guard Cutters Emlen Tunnell and Glen Harris are moored pierside in Beirut, Lebanon, Jan. 31, 2022. The two fast response cutters are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to help ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East region. U.S. Army photo by Cpl. DeAndre Dawkins.

“SEA CONTROL 314 – A GLOBAL FORCE FOR THE GREATER GOOD WITH CAPT DAVE RAMASSINI”

Ships from the U.S. Coast Guard and Japan Coast Guard conducted exercises near the Ogasawara Islands of Japan, Feb. 21, 2021. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball and Japan Coast Guard Ship Akitsushima, two of the respective services’ newest and most capable vessels, operated alongside helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles to practice interdicting foreign vessels operating illegally inside Japanese waters. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Cutter Kimball/Released)

CIMSEC brings us a podcast of particular interest to the Coast Guard.

I don’t really like podcasts myself. It seems a slow and inefficient way to pass information compared to reading. Inevitably, interviews are not as well organized as the written word. But then I don’t have a long commute anymore. That might have changed my opinion.

If you don’t have that long commute, I would recommend reading his Naval Institute Articles as a better use of time.

Of course, if you are not a US Naval Institute member, you may not have access to the full articles. We have discussed a couple of these earlier.

Don’t know how I missed writing about the most recent post which advocates a larger and more stable Coast Guard budget.

“Recognizing the various U.S. instruments of national power—diplomatic, information, military, economic, finance, intelligence, and law enforcement—arguably, no other government entity is as well-positioned, has the reputation for fiscal stewardship, nor has broader authorities and existing bilateral relationships to collectively exercise the full range of these instruments as effectively as the Coast Guard. It is time to properly include the Coast Guard in military rebuilding efforts to properly attend to business beyond U.S. borders that is booming with no remedy in sight. Coast Guard leaders need to get all GCC commanders on board to craft a 24-star letter expressing their need for a more robust and constant Coast Guard presence for the greater good of not only U.S. international partners, but also our own national interests.”

 

“Coast Guard cutters begin Operation Aiga in Oceania” –D14

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper (WLB 201) return to Honolulu after completing a 45-day patrol in Oceania in support of Operation ‘Aiga, Oct. 1, 2021. The Juniper is a 225-foot Juniper-Class seagoing buoy tender home-ported in Honolulu, the crew is responsible for maintaining aids to navigation, performing maritime law enforcement, port, and coastal security, search and rescue and environmental protection. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Coast Guard Cutter Juniper)

Below is a D14 news release. These long distance/long duration operations pairing a buoy tender (WLB) and a Webber class WPC are getting to be fairly routine.

Buoy tenders are proving to be good PC tenders as well. This is a good demonstration of the multi-mission nature of Coast Guard buoy tenders and support for the contention that the buoy tender function should not be passed off to some other agency or outsourced.

Wonder if they might be able to support more than one patrol craft at a time?

(The photo in the news release below is of a different Juniper class WLB, USCGC Elm)

News Release

U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific

Coast Guard cutters begin Operation Aiga in Oceania

 

Editors’ Note: Click on Coast Guard stock images to download a high-resolution version.

HONOLULU — The crews of the Coast Guard Cutter Juniper (WLB 201) and Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126) will aim to extend the Coast Guard’s at-sea enforcement presence in the region through a 40-day patrol.

“Aiga,” the Samoan word for family, is designed to integrate Coast Guard capabilities and operations with Pacific Island Country (PIC) partners in order to protect shared national interests, combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and strengthen maritime governance in Oceania.

“Responsible fisheries management is vital to the Pacific’s well-being, prosperity, and security,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jessica Conway, the 14th District’s current operations officer. “The Coast Guard is an adaptable, responsive military force of maritime professionals whose broad legal authorities, capable assets, and expansive partnerships provide a persistent presence throughout our exclusive economic zones (EEZ) and on the high seas.”

IUU fishing operates outside the rules adopted at the national and international level. It threatens the ocean’s ecosystem, food security, and economic growth around the world by undercutting law-abiding fishermen and communities that depend on fish and fish products.

“An essential protein source for more than 40% of the world’s population, fish stocks are critical to maritime sovereignty and resource security of many nations,” said Cmdr. Christopher Jasnoch, the Juniper’s commanding officer.

As part of Operation Blue Pacific 2022, the crews of the Juniper and Joseph Gerczak will conduct information sharing activities to advance the U.S.’s bilateral and cultural relationships with Melanesia and Polynesia.

The Coast Guard regularly exercises bilateral shiprider agreements with partner nations. These agreements help to host foreign law enforcement personnel to better exercise their authority; closing any global maritime law enforcement gaps, improve cooperation, coordination, and interoperability.

Operation Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission Coast Guard endeavor seeking to promote maritime security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while also strengthening relationships with our partners in the region.

“To ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific, the U.S. remains committed to strengthening regional alliances and enhancing emerging partnerships,” said Lt. Joseph Blinsky, Joseph Gerczak’s commanding officer. “Leading global deterrence efforts, the Coast Guard likewise remains committed to combating IUU fishing and our crews look forward to collaborating with PICs to better address this growing national security concern.”

“MASTERING EXPEDITIONARY IUU FISHERIES ENFORCEMENT IN THE BAHAMAS” –CIMSEC

HMBS Nassau (P-61). Taken by Erick Perez on 5/26/2007. From Wikipedia commons.

SIMSEC brings us a suggestion from a pair of Coast Guard officers that,

“… in order to achieve the Commandant’s vision for becoming the partner of choice, the Coast Guard only need look 50 miles east of Florida to the Bahamas. The Bahamas is an archipelagic nation beleaguered by competing fisheries claims, including some coming from U.S. commercial and recreational fishermen. It presents a ready-made test bed for partner building and enforcing fisheries violations without the tyranny of distance. It has the further benefit of strengthening partnerships with the nation that enjoys the closest maritime boundary to the United States outside of Mexico and Canada, and where Chinese economic influence is finding a foothold. It is an environment where small U.S. Coast Guard cutters or “patrol boats” are uniquely suited to sustained law enforcement operations in shallow littorals.”

While I find the proposal interesting, there are some issues that need to be considered.

First, unlike the island nations of the Western Pacific that are bound to US by the Compact of Free Association, we have no treaty obligations to the Bahamas and currently no enforcement authority in their waters.

Second, as a member of the Commonwealth Caribbean, I am sure the Bahamian Defense Force already has an on-going relationship with the Royal Navy. We would want to complement rather than replace that.

Third, our objective should be to strengthen Bahamian capability not, replace it. The Bahamian EEZ is 5.6% the size of that of the US. The Royal Bahamian Defense Force (RBDF) is essentially their Coast Guard. They have no army or air force. The RBDF reportedly has 1,600 members so it is about 3.6% the size of the active duty USCG. It is the largest navy in the Commonwealth Caribbean. The have ten patrol vessels:

The oldest and largest, HMBS Bahamas (P-60) and HMBS Nassau (P-61) (pictured above) were delivered in 1999. they are American made, 60.4 m (198 ft) in length, and capable of 24 knots. They are also equipped with a 25mm gun, four .50 caliber machine guns and a pair of RHIBs.

HMBS Rolly Gray (P424) a Damen Stan Patrol 4207

They have four of the very widely used Damen Stan Patrol 4207 (pictured above), used by 13 different coast guards and navies including the Canadian Coast Guard, Mexican Navy, and the UK Border Force. These are little sisters to the Webber class FRCs which are derived from the Damen Stan Patrol 4708 design. The 4207s are 42.8 m (140.4 ft) in length and are typically capable of about 26 knots.

HMBS Lignum Vitae (P 301) a Damen Stan Patrol 3007

They also have four Stan Patrol 3007 patrol boats that were delivered beginning in 2015. They are 30.93 meters (101’5″) in length, have a speed of at least 24 knots, and have a stern ramp for an RHIB.

In addition to three manned aircraft of three different types, two twin engine and one single engine, the RBDF has a fleet of 55 short and medium range UAS provided by the American firm Swift Tactical Systems.

There is certainly a lot we can do for them in terms of information sharing, training and joint exercises. Looks like they have a good basis for an effective force and the Coast Guard could benefit from a strong relationship with them. I gather we already have a good relationship with RBDF.

Cutters Albacore (WPB-87309), Cochito (WPD-87329), and Gannet (WPB-87334) Transferred to Uruguay

Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001

Navy of Uruguay to accept three Protector Class vessels as part of a grant from the United States Coast Guard as part of the Uruguayan Navy’s Fleet Modernization plan (Picture source U.S. Embassy of Uruguay)

Navy Recognition reports,

“According to information published by the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay, On December 15, 2021, Admiral Jorge Wilson, Commander of the Uruguayan Navy, signed a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) finalizing the government-to-government agreement between the United States and Uruguay, allowing Uruguay to accept three Protector-Class patrol vessels as part of a grant from the United States Coast Guard as part of the Uruguayan Navy’s Fleet Modernization plan.”

“Predicting illegal fishing activity is tip of the iceberg for mature AI technology” –BAE

BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams.

Below is a company press release, but it is an interesting one, with relevance to Coast Guard missions. The Obangame Express Exercise is one the Coast Guard has participated in, in the past. More info on the exercise here and here.


BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams.

The old “finding a needle in a haystack” analogy doesn’t begin to articulate the challenge associated with illegal fishing detection and identification. While a ship may be larger than a needle, the ocean is certainly larger than your biggest haystack. Add the need to not only find the ship, but determine its recent activities, anticipate future movements, and compare them with all other ships in the area — and do it in near real-time using open source data feeds.

At the Obangame Express event, which is the largest multinational maritime exercise in Western Africa, BAE Systems’ Multi-INT Analytics for Pattern Learning and Exploitation (MAPLE) as a Service, MaaS for short, was integrated with SeaVision, the U.S. Navy’s premier tool for unclassified interagency and coalition maritime data sharing. SeaVision is a maritime situational awareness tool that ingests maritime vessel position data from various government and commercial sources and simultaneously displays them on the same screen in a web browser.

“Military organizations use illegal fishing as a model application due to the unclassified nature of the available data,” said Neil Bomberger, chief scientist at BAE Systems’ FAST LabsTM research and development organization. “Successful detection of illegal fishing activity helps address a serious challenge and highlights another use case for our mature artificial intelligence technology.”

Giving depth to data

While manual analysis of individual vessel tracks is possible, it gets exponentially more challenging and time-consuming for large numbers of vessels. BAE Systems technology applies machine learning analytics to automate low-level detection of activities of interest, such as fishing, from available data streams. This enables analysts to quickly answer time-sensitive questions, prioritize manual data analysis activities, identify higher-level trends, and focus on decision-making instead of manual data analysis.

During the event, BAE Systems’ MaaS technology processed streaming data and automatically detected vessel behavior events that SeaVision displayed as an additional data layer to support user-friendly and timely analysis. The technology provides full visibility into the data to allow the users to check whether the detected behavior warrants further investigation. This helps build trust in the automation and supports additional analysis.

Decades in the making

BAE Systems’ FAST Labs maritime sensemaking capabilities are rooted in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Backed by nearly two decades of development, their behavior recognition and pattern analysis capabilities continue to show significant utility in real-world environments.

The cloud-based artificial intelligence technology was matured via work on the Geospatial Cloud Analytics (GCA) program. In the months since the successful event, the FAST Labs organization has continued to develop and mature its autonomy portfolio. Elements of its autonomy technology have proven successful in multiple domains including air, land, and sea.

“This successful event delivers on the promise of mature artificial intelligence technology – easy to integrate, incorporating trust, and providing fast and actionable information in a real-world scenario,” continued Bomberger. “The event showcased how our artificial intelligence technology can be deployed in a cloud environment, integrated with a government tool, and used to address relevant maritime activities.”