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DHS S&T funds further development of tracking technology for Coast Guard missions


Highly accurate monitoring systems are needed to track suspicious packages, hazardous substances including oil spills, or dangerous debris that needs to be cleared from seas and waterways. To spur development of such technology to fill a specific Coast Guard need, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) on March 3 awarded $153,000 to Morcom International Inc., a small business based in Chantilly, Virginia.

The Phase 1 award was made under S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) Maritime Object Tracking Technology solicitation, which directly supports the U.S. Coast Guard’s mission to ensure the nation’s maritime safety, security and stewardship. Morcom’s project proposes to augment their existing product, the Tracking Unit for Navigational Aid (TUNA), to help the Coast Guard implement a better and more reliable system for clearly marking objects in water.

“SVIP has given USCG access to companies like Morcom with technologies suitable for rapid prototyping. We are looking forward to evaluating Morcom’s augmented design of TUNA and how it will benefit Coast Guard missions,” said Wendy Chaves, head of the service’s Research, Development, Test & Evaluation and Innovation Program.

TUNA already features several of the technologies that DHS requires for a maritime tracking technology, including reusable and rechargeable batteries, automatic identification and global positioning systems (AIS/GPS) based tracking, a programmable AIS identifier, and operation in an open ocean/saltwater environment. TUNA currently allows tracking of small vessels or other floating objects at sea using a Global Navigation Satellite System receiver and multi-link technologies.

“We are excited to add another company to our portfolio under the Maritime Object Tracking Technology topic call,” said Melissa Oh, SVIP managing director. “With Morcom’s experience in providing critical communication and alerting systems to government and state agencies, the prospect of delivering a solution that will bolster USCG’s ability to carry out its mission is promising.”

With the Phase 1 funding, Morcom will enhance and test mechanics and electronics to fulfill USGC airdropping requirements in the solicitation. A successful device could potentially be used in different scenarios to support Coast Guard missions related to security, safety, and environmental protection.


DHS S&T funds development of tracking buoy, language translation capabilities for USCG missions

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For information on Coast Guard R&D: Research, Development, Test and Evaluation program page and Innovation program page.

For information on DHS S&T opportunities: Work with S&T