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Coast Guard recognizes meritorious service by Research and Development Center

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Technical Director Al Arsenault accepts the Meritorious Unit Commendation

Technical Director Al Arsenault accepts the Meritorious Unit Commendation for the Coast Guard Research and Development Center from Rear Adm. Michael Johnston (middle) April 9, 2021, while Capt. Daniel Keane, RDC commanding officer, reads the citation.


Rear Adm. Michael Johnston, assistant commandant for acquisition and chief acquisition officer for the Coast Guard, presented the service’s Meritorious Unit Commendation to the Research and Development Center April 9, 2021. In the award, the RDC was recognized for “delivering technological solutions and premier analyses while executing 100 projects valued at $79 million. These efforts included delivering innovative cutting-edge technology to front line operators during 34 field experiments and user evaluations across all nine Coast Guard districts. The RDC re-engineered technical resources, saving millions of dollars in contracting costs while developing enduring internal workforce expertise.”

The award highlighted several RDC achievements during the time period from August 2017 to July 2020:

  • Led an inter-agency team, including scientists and engineers from Air Force Research Lab and the Office of Naval Research, to develop and install the first and only integrated, effective, on-the-move, user-friendly maritime counter unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to detect, identify and defeat illicit UAS from a moving maritime platform. This effort directly supports Ports, Waterways and Coastal Security missions, and established RDC as a key capabilities development expert in the field of counter UAS with Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partners.
  • In partnership with DHS Science and Technology deployed two ground control stations that received signals from DHS and Coast Guard’s first satellite mission to evaluate cube satellite technology applications for search and rescue in the Arctic region. RDC collected several months’ worth of data and, most importantly, expanded Coast Guard knowledge and expertise regarding space-based communication, emerging satellite system opportunities and surveillance technologies.
  • Developed and field tested three prototypes to mitigate freshwater spills of oil sands products (such as diluted bitumen) that sink and travel along the bottom of open and river waterways. RDC developed potential tools and tactics for incident commanders to address and help mitigate these difficult type of spills.
  • Established a partnership with DoD laboratory commanders to align efforts, increase collaboration and address challenges as a collective.
  • Provided vital acquisition decision support by supplying key information, including the Electronic Health Records Alternative Analysis where RDC provided an independent evaluation of potential alternatives to the paper-based health records management solution; the detailed cost analysis and potential savings estimates outlined in the report were instrumental in helping the sponsor select the most cost-effective alternative. Other acquisition decision support included a Fleet-wide Performance Analysis, Fixed Wing Siting Study, and acting as operational test agent for the small unmanned aircraft system for the national security cutter program.

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