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Coast Guard awards contracts for maritime domain awareness study

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At left, a concept photo of the unmanned surface vehicle that will be demonstrated by Spatial Integrated System in the maritime domain awareness technology evaluation by the Coast Guard Research and Development Center this summer. At right, the technology evaluation will also include a SailDrone, shown here during a project with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ocean Climate Stations.


The Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) is moving forward with plans to assess low-cost, commercially available autonomous solutions to improve maritime domain awareness in remote regions of the Pacific Ocean. In support of this effort, the Coast Guard awarded two contracts Feb. 7, 2020, worth a total value of nearly $1.8 million for operation and support of unmanned surface vehicles (USV).  The USVs will be evaluated later this year to determine the efficacy of using unmanned capabilities to support critical Coast Guard missions to secure and safeguard the maritime domain.

The evaluation will use USVs supplied by Saildrone Inc. of Alameda, California (contract valued at approximately $1.1 million) and Spatial Integrated System Inc. of Virginia Beach, Virginia, (valued at approximately $660,000). The USV capability will be contractor-owned and -operated during the evaluation.

The RDC will conduct a 30-day demonstration in the Central Pacific this summer to gather information including range of detection, appropriate sensor packages to provide desired outcomes, and how communications flow between the USVs and command centers.

These efforts will help the Coast Guard determine if small USV capability can be used to improve maritime domain awareness in remote Pacific regions, with an emphasis on detecting suspected illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity and alerting command centers to potential violations to support enforcement actions. The study and technology demonstration will be used to generate data that examines the operational utility of the USV, including feasibility, costs and benefits.

This project is being conducted with funds made available by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, and is in line with Congressional direction to evaluate potential surveillance solutions to support the Coast Guard’s statutory missions related to marine safety, security and protection in the Pacific Ocean. Following the completion of the evaluation, the RDC will publish a report with recommendations for potential future actions for the Coast Guard

For more information: Research, Development, Test and Evaluation program page and Research and Development Center page.