Coast Guard floats maritime security plan

The Coast Guard is developing a national plan for what it calls maritime domain awareness, and will need to collaborate with other government organizations and with the private sector to implement the plan, according to Adm. Thomas Collins, commandant of the Coast Guard.

Achieving maritime domain awareness ? knowing what's happening on U.S. waters and in U.S. ports at all times and preventing terrorist actions there ? will require extensive knowledge of weather, coastlines and all vessels, Collins said at a meeting of the Homeland Security Defense Business Council in Washington today.

Getting this awareness will require extensive use of information technology to analyze information from many different sources, Collins said.

For example, the Coast Guard needs a system that contains information on the 60 million recreational boats in the United States, he said.

"We need a way to identify and track [these boats] and manage this large amount of information," Collins said.

Stillman also said the Coast Guard also needs a better screening system for people and vehicles traveling on the nation's 725 ferries.

"They are vulnerable targets," he said. "We do some screening, but it is painful. The [new] solution needs to be implementable, useable and fast. It's fertile ground for some innovative ideas."

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