Coast Guard struggles with maritime surveillance program

Published 4 January 2007

Port of Miami once again provides a sorry case study; Maritime Domain Awareness program confuses waves for boats; Coast Guard stops following the radar after too many problems; Automated Identification System a cause for criticism

Think of it like an air traffic control system for coastal waters. Since 2001, the Coast Guard has invested billions of dollars in long-range cameras, coastal radar, and analytic technology that can identify vessels approaching American ports. But unlike America’s air traffic control system, the Coast Guard’s efforts have fallen far short of expectations — and even that may be an understatement.

When in 2003 a Cuban boat armed with two machine guns landed in Miami, the Coast Guard was inundated with demands asked how the boat got through. “With all due respect,” said one commandant, “how did they get through