MDA–Offshore Persistent Monitoring

Think defense reports on some new technology the Coast Guard is already involved in, that might become useful for Maritime Domain Awareness. The Navy has also been interested in this since it could clearly support acoustic as well as radar and electro-optic sensors. A capability to deploy a portable version of this, around critical areas during wartime, might be a future wartime mission for our buoy tenders.

Canada uses Radar Satellites for Maritime Domain Awareness

Defense news reports on Canada’s intention to use a constellation of three radar satellites to monitor marine traffic,

Royal Canadian Air Force Col. Andre Dupuis, the Department of National Defence’s director of space requirements. “Three satellites will give us a complete picture every single day of every ship in our area of responsibility, all the way out to about 2,000 nautical miles. ”

The RCM satellites’ synthetic aperture radar will be able to detect ships 25 meters in length or larger. The radar can conduct surveillance day or night and through heavy cloud cover.

Indian Coast Guard Continues Upgrades–Vessels and Maritime Domain Awarness

The Times of India reports the Indian Coast Guard is both continuing expansion of its chain of radar stations used to maintain Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and building new patrol vessels at a relatively high rate.

The central government has approved the setting up of 38 radar stations across the country in the second phase under Coastal Surveillance Network, said defence secretary R K Mathur, adding that the first phase of the network comprising 46 radar stations was expected to be completed by October.

India’s EEZ is less than a fifth that of the US, but since the terrorist attack on Mumbai, 26 November, 2008, which came by sea, they have been working steadily on upgrading the quality and size of their Coast Guard.


Maritime Domain Awarness by Satelite

Ship position reports received with the NORAIS Receiver during 24 hours, 29th June 2010. (FFI)

An interesting view of maritime traffic posted by Eaglespeak. Tackling the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) problem, it is apparent:

  • 1) You need computers to sort it out and identify the contacts you are interested in.
  • 2) You still have to have some way to pick up the contacts vessels that are not using Automatic Information System (AIS) transponders.

Could Maritime Domain Awareness Ride the Coattails of Missile Defense?

At least since 9/11, the Coast Guard has been talking about Maritime Domain Awareness–the ability to keep track of everything approaching our coasts. The effort has used the Automatic Identification System (AIS) which gives the position and identification of cooperating vessels, and also anticipates cooperation with the Navy’s Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) system which will use large land based unmanned aircraft, in addition to the Coast Guard’s own assets.

Concurrently the US has been developing a defense against ballistic missiles. (More info here on additional effort.) If they go to the trouble and expense of doing that, then they will almost certainly also develop a defense against cruise missiles as well, since it is relatively easy to launch cruise missiles against the US from nondescript container ships. The system that is likely to be used, the Army’s JLENS, has demonstrated a capability to track even small boats.

Sounds like the pieces of a comprehensive system that the Coast Guard may be able to exploit, may be coming together.