The United States Coast Guard will begin testing a new Nationwide Automatic Identification System that will help insure the safety, security and efficiency of all maritime activities going on within the territorial waters of the U.S.
Developed by Northrop Grumman, the Nationwide AIS gives authorities a informational 360-degree view of vessels coming into and operating within U.S. waters. Nationwide AIS is a reciprocal communication system that collects data from incoming vessels– identity, speed, destination, manifest and cargo data to name a few categories. It then creates a profile for each vessel, combining relevant data queried from shared intelligence and surveillance databases, and distributes its handiwork to the proper government agencies.
In this way, Nationwide AIS takes a big step towards supplying authorized maritime operators from the Coast Guard, Homeland Security and other agencies to have all the necessary information to react quickly and comprehensively to any threat to our nation’s shores. From low-collateral yet significant dangers such as ship collision to high-collateral threats to civilian life and national security, Nationwide AIS looks to be able to augment all ranges of port security. Northrop Grumman also claims that the system will be able to used for environmental protection and search and rescue efforts.
Along with the technical hardware, Northrop Grumman has developed a robust on-land communications infrastructure, a complex network of information sharing, and powerful computer processing to support the large amounts of data Nationwide AIS will be working with.
“The Coast Guard’s goals for enhancing maritime domain awareness include the ability to detect and classify potential threats as early and distant from U.S. interests as possible,” said Pat Camacho, vice president of integrated command, control, communications and intelligence systems for Northrop Grumman Information Systems. “By monitoring the virtual network created by AIS-equipped vessels, Nationwide AIS will help decision-makers to better respond to safety and security risks.”
Before being deployed for official field testing, the system was rigorously tested by Northrop Grumman. AIS was tested at various locations where it would be used for real-time deployment, and also on vessels of varying speeds and sizes, travelling through various waterway environments. In testing, Nationwide AIS worked at a range of up to 50 nautical miles off shore.
Northrop Grumman was selected to design the Nationwide AIS in December of 2008.