“Sea Machines and USCG partner on computer vision domain awareness” –Marine Link

Photo from Sea Machines website, https://sea-machines.com/ai-ris/

Marine Link reports that a 270 foot WMEC has been fitted with an artificial intelligence recognition and identification system (AI-ris) computer vision product by Sea Machines.

AI-ris uses artificial intelligence to identify and track visual targets of interest. Installation on the cutter was made possible under an ongoing Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between Sea Machines Robotics and the USCG Research and Development Center in an effort to evaluate how computer vision systems can be utilized for autonomous navigation, collision avoidance, and target detection. The deployment of AI-ris provides the USCG a new tool for maritime domain awareness and allows Sea Machines to refine its computer vision technology with feedback from the USCG across a range of environmental conditions and operational scenarios.”

No idea why the report did not name the cutter that got the system. Even the photo that accompanied the report has no hull number.

Sea Machines and the Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) do have some history, having used their SM300 Autonomous Command & Control system.

“USCG selects KVH for new 5-year small cutter satcom connectivity contract” –Marine Log

“Coast Guard Cutter John F. McCormick (WPC 1121) crew transits through the San Francisco Bay, Saturday, March 4, 2017, during their voyage to homeport in Ketchikan, Alaska. The cutter was named after McCormick who received the Gold Lifesaving Medal in 1938 for his exceptional skill in maintaining control of the 52-foot motor lifeboat Triumph while responding to a vessel in need near the Columbia River Bar under treacherous conditions, allowing the crew to recover a crewmember that had been washed overseas. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Loumania Stewart”

Marine Log reports,

Middletown, R.I., KVH Industries, Inc., (Nasdaq: KVHI), has been awarded a U.S. Coast Guard contract worth a potential $69 million that will see it supply the next-generation satellite communications solution for the service’s small cutter fleet of more than 140 vessels/platforms. Chosen in a full and open competitive procurement process, KVH’s TracPhone V7-HTS Ku-band satellite communications system and mini-VSAT broadband service will be the U.S. Coast Guard’s Small Cutter Connectivity (SCC) Ku-band System and Airtime Support Services solution. The USCG also anticipates that approximately 20 new cutters will join the small cutter fleet over the next five years, requiring the same level of support that KVH will provide to the already deployed vessels.

I presume the additional “approximately 20 new cutters” are the remaining Webber class Fast Response Cutters.

“Coordinating combat exercise operations from the inside of the cutter” –MyCG

MyCG has a story about the experience of personnel manning USCGC Bear’s CIC during Operation Nanook. There were some statements that surprised me.

“There were a lot of ways we were pushed as a team within the operations department,” he explained. “For me, I think it was getting acclimated with being on a cutter after being an ‘OS’ at a sector for most of my career. Being underway was really uncharted territory for me, no pun intended. Communications, especially the use of tactical signals to pass important information from ship-to-ship, was completely new to me with nearly 17 years of experience. But I would gladly do it again if I had the chance.”

How is it that we have an OS1, 17 years in the service, and he has never been afloat before?

Learning tactical signals, or TACSIGS, Gordon refers to was no small feat either. TACSIGS are a lost form of communication the Coast Guard no longer teaches. Only as a result of CIC’s collective brain power was Bear able to engage in close-quarter maneuvering with other ships in the convoy— often times, only at moment’s notice.

I know cutters seldom work with other warships, but it is a basic skill required of a CIC. Screwing up tactical signal will at least embarrass the ship, at worse the ship may be run over by an aircraft carrier–it has happened more than once.

And then there was this,

The unreliable internet capabilities to carry out critical tasking also challenged the crew.

You are depending on internet to coordinate operations? You can’t expect that to work when you need it most, and where is EMCON?

Sounds like the OS rating has proven so useful, and so many of the OS billets are now ashore, that the rating’s skill set has drifted away from those required afloat. Sounds like we have a problem. Maybe we need to split the rating? Create an OS like rating for those that serve exclusively ashore? Or else a special school to bring OSs going afloat up to speed?

“Coast Guard modifies offshore patrol cutter contract to complete installation of the combat and radar systems” -CG-9

OPC “Placemat”

Below is a post from the  Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9). I had never heard of the “Athena combat weapons system” so “Googled” it. The most common thing that came up was an Army laser weapons program. I don’t really think that is what they talking about, but I could be wrong. The post does call it a “weapons system.” I think it may be the Leonardo ATHENA® (Architecture & Technologies Handling Electronic Naval Applications) Combat Management System (CMS). Leonardo’s web page on the system indicates it is the CMS used on the FREMM frigate which is the parent craft for new USN FFG. Maybe the Navy liked the CMS as much as they liked the ship.

The CMS on the Bertholf class cutters is an Aegis based system. I have not heard anything about its application to the offshore patrol cutter (OPC).

Late Addition: Got this, thanks to Timothy H,

AEGIS Athena Baseline 9G
May be an image of text
That is good news, since it means there will be commonality between the systems on the NSCs and the OPCs.

The Coast Guard modified its current contract with Eastern Shipbuilding Group (ESG) May 20 so installation of the Athena combat weapons system and multi-mode radar system will be completed during the production phase of the offshore patrol cutter (OPC). The Athena system, radar and armament of the OPC are provided to the Coast Guard as Navy type-Navy owned government furnished equipment.

Prior to this modification, installation of both systems was to occur after contract delivery while each cutter was in its homeport. The Navy has completed development, integration and testing of the Athena and radar systems, enabling the Coast Guard to shift to production-phase installation. Performing this work prior to delivery reduces the technical risks associated with post-delivery installation and delivers mission-ready OPCs to the fleet as soon as possible.

The first four OPCs are currently in production at ESG’’s shipyard in Panama City, Florida.

The OPC meets the service’s need for cutters capable of deploying independently or as part of a larger task force and is essential to stopping smugglers at sea, rescuing mariners, enforcing fisheries laws, responding to disasters, interdicting undocumented individuals and protecting the nation. The acquisition of 25 OPCs will complement the capabilities of the service’s national security cutters and fast response cutters as an essential element of the Department of Homeland Security’s layered maritime security strategy.

For more information: Offshore Patrol Cutter Program page

Polar Security Cutter Command and Control

Photo of a model of Halter Marine’s Polar Security Cutter seen at Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exhibition have surfaced. Photo credit Chris Cavas.

I just received my February/March issue of “The Bulletin,” the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association magazine. It has a good article on the Polar Security Cutter, “The Future is Upon Us,” pages 48-54, by LCdr David Radin, class of 2009.

Unfortunately there are a lot of readers who might be interested in this that don’t have access to the magazine.

Most of it was information I had seen elsewhere, but there was a short paragraph headed “Modern C2” that had some information that was new to me, so I am reproducing it below.

“To meet the modern mission demands, PSC  will be equipped with a highly capable Command and Control (C2) suite for full fleet integration. Additionally, PSC will feature the capability for oceanographic operations, a unique capability for the Coast Guard. This capability far exceeds POLAR STAR’s and comes in the form of a robust sonar suite, over 2000 square feet of reconfigurable science space and room for up to nine 20-foot portable scientific vans, an impressive load-out for science focused missions. This capability is critical for the United States to assert  and enforce legal authority over the increasingly accessible northern edge of the exclusive economic zone.”

These are very large ships with relatively small crews (accommodations for 136 permanent crew and up to 50 additional persons). It looks like we are building in flexibility for the future. That should prove a wise decision.

“Time to Revise the Japan Coast Guard Act?” –The Diplomat

Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel PL82 Nagura at the Port of Ishigaki. Photo from Wikipedia Commons, by Yasu

The Diplomat reports that Japan is considering changes to their laws governing the Japan Coast Guard.

One proposal seeks to add “maintenance of  territorial sea integrity” and “security of territorial sea” to the Act’s mission, while another seeks to moderate the prerequisites allowing harm through use of weapons by Coast Guard officers. All of these proposals seek to give the JCG more muscle.

I don’t have a feel for what the actual proposed changes are, but I do know the Japan Coast Guard does not have the same close relationships with the Japanese Navy (Maritime Defense Force) that the USCG enjoys with the USN. It is not a military service. They don’t share equip or even use the same fuel. You can bet they don’t share the same communications systems. This means that the organization is not as useful as it might be in wartime, and, of more immediate concern, it means coordination in crisis is far more difficult.

Currently none of the Japan Coast Guard vessels have weapons larger than 40mm, and very few have an air search radar or any kind of AAW firecontrol system. If Japanese Self Defense Forces are not immediately available as backup, it might be hard not to feel intimidated by better armed China Coast Guard vessels, particularly if supported by aircraft.

This Chinese coast guard ship is equipped with weapons believed to be 76-millimeter guns. © Kyodo

“Eastern Shipbuilding opens new C5I integration facility for offshore patrol cutter” –Defense News

Eastern Shipbuilding Group is on contract to build the first four offshore patrol cutters for the U.S. Coast Guard and is competing for the contract for the rest of the class. The first ship, Argus, is in construction and expected to deliver by the end of 2022. (Eastern Shipbuilding Group photo)

Defense News reports,

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Northrop Grumman and their industry partners formally opened a test and integration center this week for the C5I systems at the heart of the U.S. Coast Guard’s new offshore patrol cutter program.

This OPC production facility is meant to reduce risk on what the Coast Guard calls its top acquisition priority. Within mockups of the bridge, the operations center and other key rooms, every piece of internal and external sensing and communications equipment will be networked together in this facility at Eastern’s Allanton yard first, tested for any integration hiccups and then sent up the road to the company’s Nelson Street yard where the OPC hulls are being constructed.

Northrop Grumman Vice President for Maritime Systems and Integration Todd Leavitt told Defense News this C5I system — command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance — is more complex than even the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) program the company worked on for the U.S. Navy.

That is only a small part of the report which includes information about the ship’s internal communications system. A shoreside facility is a great idea. It will likely eliminate post delivery teething problems that can be expensive and delay deployment.

We really need these ships to work right out of the box.

“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.

Space Force Personnel to be Called “Guardians,” Their Boss Has Seat on JCS

An illustration of HawkEye 360’s first satellite constellation, called Pathfinder, orbiting Earth. HawkEye 360/UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory

DefenseOne reports that, “Two days before the U.S. Space Force’s first birthday, its troops received their collective name: Guardians.”

Also that “Since its standup on Dec. 20, 2019, the Space Force has grown to about 2,400 active-duty personnel, mostly Air Force personnel who were responsible for the military’s space mission before the new service was created. In 2021, the Space Force is expected to grow to about 6,400 active-duty Guardians, as Army and Navy personnel start transferring into the new service…”

And that, Gen. Jay Raymond, the Chief of Space Operations, will officially become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The JCS members are the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Vice Chairman, the Army Chief of Staff, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Air Force Chief of Staff, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and, now, the Chief of Space Operations.

From time to time, Coast Guardsmen have been called Guardians. Presumably that will stop. I don’t think it ever really caught on. Still I don’t think it will stick for the Space Force either, although it is better than some names that might have been chosen. (Feel free to offer alternatives in the comments.)

Space Force, even if grown to 6,400, will still be by far the smallest US military force. The Coast Guard will still be six or seven times as large. Presumably they will get a relatively larger budget, but still it suggests that, perhaps the Commandant has at least as much reason to be a JCS member. Not sure he would really want to attend all their meetings, but the Coast Guard has become an important tool in US “whole of government” foreign relations organization. Plus the JCS Chairman is probably less likely to fully understand the Coast Guard than any other military service.