Coast Guard readies identification system solicitation

The Coast Guard announced Thursday it is ready to move forward on awarding contracts for the initial deployment of a vessel communications system.

The Nationwide Automatic Identification System will be used for ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship communication of navigation information. The system will improve maritime security, navigational safety, and vessel traffic planning, said Capt. Kurtis Guth, the Coast Guard project manager.

The amount of the contracts to be awarded was not immediately available; however, the total cost of the program has been estimated at up to $165 million.

Receiving approvals this week from the Homeland Security Department to begin awarding contracts for the identification system is a significant step for the program, according to Coast Guard officials.

"This is an important milestone for the project as it marks the approval to begin contracting for the initial deployment of this powerful capability," Guth said in a press release.

"The speed, course and location data collected by this system from vessels carrying international automatic identification system equipment will be used to form an overarching view of maritime traffic within or near the U.S. and its territorial waters," he said.

The system is being developed in three phases, in partnership with the Naval Sea Logistics Center. Under phase one, which is already in development, 60 critical seaports will have the capability to receive messages from vessels offshore. In phase two, there will be an open competition contract for design, supply and implementation of a fully integrated system to provide nationwide reception and transmission capabilities. Phase three will involve contracts to provide long-range automatic identification system coverage out to 2,000 nautical miles, according to a Coast Guard news release on Jan. 11.

On Dec. 27, 2006, the Coast Guard released a draft statement of work and performance specification for phase two of the project. The system will include base station transceivers, antennas, data storage and processing and networking infrastructure.

The system will be deployed on several types of platforms, including receive-only capabilities for satellites, buoys and aircraft, and receiving and transmitting capabilities for towers and platforms, the Coast Guard said in its draft statement of work.

A pre-solicitation conference is tentatively scheduled to be held at the Crystal City Marriot in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 18 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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