Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Navy, Coast Guard Partner for Homeland Security Experiment

For my friends in South Texas and specfically in Corpus Christi/Nueces County

By F. Kieschnick, Naval Station Ingleside Public Affairs

INGLESIDE, Texas (NNS) -- Navy, Coast Guard and local civil authorities will combine forces in South Texas May 11-15 to conduct a limited objective experiment focusing on maritime homeland security.

The experiment will take place in the Port of Corpus Christi and will use state-of-the-art technology and systems to further develop tactics, techniques and procedures to counter a naval mine threat to harbor waterways. Corpus Christi was selected because the channel and harbor are important shipping gateways for commercial and military cargo. Similar experiments have taken place in San Diego, Portsmouth, N.H., Honolulu, and Tampa, Fla.

In preparation, survey operations to map the seabed of Corpus Christi's shipping channel and inner harbor were conducted using unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), equipped with side-scan sonars, in mid-March. This baseline survey allows for continued refinement of a process that detects changes that have occurred following an incident in an effort to rapidly localize the threat.

On April 23, a UUV called the "Slocum Glider" was deployed nearby in the Gulf of Mexico to obtain samples of the environment and gather data that will be used during the experiment. The 1.5-meter-long, torpedo-shaped, winged vehicle "flies" through the water in a saw-tooth sampling pattern by adjusting its buoyancy. It features a wide variety of sensors that can surface to transmit data to shore and download new instructions at regular intervals.

The sonar imagery collected by UUVs will be used in concert with other systems to detect simulated underwater improvised explosive devices.

Hundreds of military and civilian personnel will be engaged in this full-scale evolution. The experiment is designed to further interoperability of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and civilian authorities in protecting U.S. ports and waterways, while developing and implementing tactics, techniques and procedures for optimal employment of new technologies.

The results of this maritime homeland security experiment will contribute to formulating doctrine and procedures for detecting and clearing underwater explosive devices that may pose a threat to shipping and commerce. This experiment will also better equip authorities to identify operational and tactical deficiencies and record lessons learned, enhancing the country's preparedness for executing an actual response to a terrorist act.