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Coast Guard C4ISR

Sails Ahead The maritime agency is buying and fielding new

systems to improve its ability to gather and share mission-critical information. By Marc Selinger, CGF Correspondent C4ISR isn’t just for the Department of Defense. The Coast Guard, part of the Department of Homeland Security, is instituting a host of new C4ISR capabilities for aircraft, ships and coastal-distress and vessel-tracking systems. Service officials said these new technologies are making it easier to collect and process vital information, thereby enhancing situational awareness for such missions as search and rescue, maritime law enforcement and environmental protection. Earlier C4ISR upgrade efforts fell under the massive Deepwater equipment modernization program, which ran aground due to cost, schedule and performance problems. Captain John Wood, C4ISR program manager in the Coast Guard’s acquisition directorate, told Coast Guard Forum that current C4ISR projects incorporate lessons learned from Deepwater. “Experience gained under the former Deepwater construct has taught us to emphasize affordability in our designs and to attempt to stay away from proprietary software,” Wood said. “With new, cuttingedge technologies emerging frequently, we have to be able to find, use and integrate these technologies into our systems quickly and economically if we want to maintain dominance over the U.S. maritime environment. We are also implementing software best practices when configuring commercial software products to automate business functions, enhance security, and make information readily available to operators.” The Coast Guard is equipping its new national security cutters (NSCs) with a Lockheed Martin multi-sensor suite, including air and surface search radar, infrared cameras, and identification-friend-or-foe systems. One terminal, the keyboard integrated terminal equipment made by L-3 Communications allows data to be shared over a wide variety of communications systems. The NSC’s next-generation C4ISR system, Tactical Seawatch, which is scheduled to roll out in 2013, will tie the ship’s tactical sensors into the command-and-control system. The weapons have their own fire-control radar to track targets and currently operate through a control system that is separate from the ship’s overall command-andcontrol system. The third NSC was commissioned in March 2012 and the fourth and fifth cutters are in production at Ingalls Shipyards in Pascagoula, Miss. A contract award for the sixth NSC is expected in 2013. The Coast Guard plans to buy a total of eight vessels. Vice Admiral John Currier, the Coast Guard’s vice commandant, told the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation subcommittee in May 2012 that the NSC’s C4ISR is proving integral to Coast Guard operations, providing real-time tactical intelligence and information-sharing. In 2011, for instance, the first two NSCs seized 2,200 kilograms of illegal drugs with a street value of about $85 million, Currier testified. 10 | CGF 4.4

The Coast Guard is installing its only three-dimensional radar, the EADS North America TRS-3D, on its new 418-foot NSCs, which are replacing 1960s-era high endurance cutters. Aaron Johnson, business development director for EADS N.A.’s Defense Electronics and Systems business, said the radar’s antenna is lightweight enough to be placed at a relatively high elevation on the ship, providing an advantageous line-of-sight view. The TRS-3D also has the potential to become the multi-mode radar for the offshore patrol cutter (OPC), which will replace the Coast Guard’s aging fleet of 210-foot and 270-foot medium endurance cutters. The Coast Guard plans to award three OPC design contracts to shipyards in fiscal year 2013 and narrow the field to one design in FY16. The radar selection will be made separately, Johnson said. The Coast Guard plans to buy 25 OPCs, with the first delivered in 2020. The Coast Guard is also replacing Capt. John Wood its aging 110-foot Island-class patrol boats with the 154-foot fast response cutter (FRC). L-3 provides the C4ISR system, which includes an integrated bridge and navigation control system, alarms and announcing systems and an integrated and automated internal/external voice communications system. L-3 has delivered the first 10 systems to FRC prime contractor Bollinger Shipyards, said Bob MontBob Montgomery gomery, L-3’s director of homeland security programs. Bollinger, in turn, has delivered the first three ships to the Coast Guard and was expected at press time to deliver the fourth in November 2012. The Coast Guard plans to buy up to 58 FRCs. “The first three FRCs are commissioned and at sea, performing critical missions throughout the Caribbean,” Montgomery said. “The Bollinger/L-3 team plans to deliver a new ship every quarter for the next several years, with the potential to ramp up to six ships per year in 2015.” All new and legacy cutters are receiving new command-andcontrol capabilities through the Seawatch program, which provides electronic navigation, radar integration and a common operating picture. Seawatch uses the DoD’s Global Command and Control System, which provides the common operating picture, Wood said.

CGF 4-4 (Dec. 2012)  
CGF 4-4 (Dec. 2012)  

U.S. Coast Guard Forum, Volume 4 Issue 4, December 2012