Hunter Statement from Hearing on Use of Blue Technologies to Improve Coast Guard Mission Performance
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
Hearing on “Blue Technologies: Use of New Maritime Technologies to Improve Efficiency and Mission Performance"
May 8, 2018
(Remarks as Prepared)
Today the Subcommittee will hear testimony on how emerging maritime technologies can improve the efficiency and performance by the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard performs many important missions, from defense readiness and migrant and drug interdictions, to search and rescue operations and fisheries law enforcement. However, since 2010, annual administration requests for the Coast Guard have not been adequate for the Service to acquire new assets to perform its 11 missions at a rate that keeps up with those mission needs.
This subcommittee has urged the Coast Guard to strongly advocate for the resources it needs to acquire the assets necessary to conduct its missions. The National Security Cutter acquisition program has exceeded the program of record, the Fast Response Cutter acquisition program is getting close to completing the program of record, while the Offshore Patrol Cutter and polar icebreaker acquisition programs are only just beginning.
The reality of the Coast Guard’s operational situation is that even with new assets, the Coast Guard has a big job to do. This subcommittee recognizes that technology can be a tool to fill any operational gaps in a cost effective manner. Unmanned systems, navigation technologies, and new cell phone technologies are all tools that the Coast Guard can use to improve their mission performance. These technologies can improve the Coast Guard’s Maritime Domain Awareness, and help the Coast Guard more effectively target the use of expensive manned assets. The Coast Guard needs to use every tool out there.
The Coast Guard cannot accomplish all their missions by simply putting their service men and women on cutters, helicopters, and planes. The Service needs to be smart and strategic about where to place its assets and use its personnel. This is where data and technology can help. For example, Indonesia has partnered with Google to catch illegal fishing in real time. Google co-founded Global Fishing Watch, an online mapping platform. Fishermen, or pirates, turn off their tracking system when they are illegally fishing, but Google’s mapping platform is able to use machine learning to study vessel movement patterns to locate them. This was all done using government-owned Vessel Monitoring System data in the mapping platform and adding raw satellite imagery to produce a detailed footprint of fishing activities, revealing 5,000 previously invisible boats, and allowing Indonesian law enforcement to address illegal fishing in its waters.
This subcommittee will keep pushing the Coast Guard to be innovative. The types of technologies we will discuss today can help the Coast Guard strategically and more effectively use its assets. There is no replacement for trained and capable service members, but if the Coast Guard makes better use of technology, this can make service members’ jobs more effective and safer.
I held a roundtable in San Diego in February and met with a variety of companies that are working on new maritime technologies. I know we have some of those panel members with us today as well as other experts. I look forward to learning about the current technologies the Coast Guard uses and new technologies out there that could assist the Coast Guard in its operations.
I thank our witnesses for being here today and I look forward to hearing their thoughts on these issues.
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