Coast Guard buying more satellite services

One of the first deliverables under the Coast Guard's massive Integrated Deepwater System procurement will be launched tomorrow in Louisiana.

The USCGC Matagorda, formerly a 110-foot patrol boat, has emerged from a year-long upgrade with new command, control and intelligence systems and has stretched to 123 feet, said Cmdr. Tom Pedagno, chief of telecommunications planning and policy at Coast Guard headquarters.

Speaking today at the Milsat Forum in Washington, Pedagno said all the Guard's patrol boats eventually will get the upgrade. "There's not much room on the mast for multiple antennas," he said. "We selected Inmarsat Mini-M portable satellite terminals" for maritime transactions that involve mostly voice.

In contrast, medium and high-end cutters need secure voice and data transmissions for military traffic. Deepwater cutters will have access to a secure intranet as well as the Secret IP Router Network, he said. "We rely heavily on commercial satellites, and we use the Defense Department gateway" for mobile services from Iridium Satellite LLC of Arlington, Va.

The Guard leases 27 satellite channels over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to route traffic on dedicated T1 lines to its intranet. But its users also need Web access to business and human resources applications, and Pedagno said he is conducting a requirements study for a lightweight access system with "a small antenna, good coverage and reasonable support cost."

The new and upgraded cutters "may see action in the Caribbean around Haiti," he said. "We have four boats on patrol in the Iraq theater."

Consultant Donald Arnstein, another speaker, said Homeland Security Department agencies will begin to require military-grade antijamming techniques as they use more commercial satellite services. Jammers, he said, are echoing Internet denial-of-service attackers by hijacking satellites to prevent transmission or spy on signals.

The countermeasures satellite providers need to take, he said, include:

  • Secret locations

  • Redundancy

  • Time diversity of signal on/off status

  • Spread-spectrum modulation

  • Selective spot beams.

  • "These countermeasures are going to be very important to DHS," he predicted.


    • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

      Pandemic tests electronic records management

      Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

    • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/

      Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

      The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

    Stay Connected