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Coast Guard Debuts New Rapid Prototyping Center

CoastGuard Vessel Demo

On May 5, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center (RDC), in New London, Conn., launched a facility that will focus on rapid innovation to keep U.S. homeland security systems one step ahead of threats to the nation.

The new Coast Guard Science & Technology Innovation Center (CG-STIC) is a small collaborative center dedicated to the leveraging of innovation, prototyping, and the rapid integration of high technology readiness solutions to operational challenges. It is focused on speeding access to technologies that will help Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) operators in the field complete their mission more effectively and efficiently.

The RDC was inspired to launch the CG-STIC by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s “unity of effort” initiative, which seeks to help DHS act in a more unified fashion. It has adopted a joint staffing approach recommended by a Memorandum of Understanding between the DHS Science & Technology Deputy Under Secretary and the Coast Guard Deputy Commandant for Mission Support. Under this approach, RDC will provide the center with physical space, and its team will consist of dedicated RDC full-time members, as well as experts from across DHS, Coast Guard operations, and other government agencies, who will join the team to work on specific projects for varying durations.

This approach will help CG-STIC develop risk-reducing prototypes, conduct maritime demonstrations, and run field experiments of technology systems to address enterprise-wide DHS and Coast Guard capability needs to counter emerging threats. In addition to prototyping, the CG-STIC will also perform rapid triage to determine which needs take highest priority and which can be addressed—at least temporarily—with existing off-the-shelf solutions. The speed at which technology penetrates the market continues to accelerate, and the CG-STIC will allow the Coast Guard and DHS to capitalize on that speed, putting technology to work to counter potential threats as quickly as possible. The CG-STIC will achieve its mission through partnerships that heavily leverage the changing global innovation ecosystem to help the Coast Guard and other DHS operators stay ahead of their adversaries.

“By formalizing our partnership, we will work closely together to speed-up the transition of knowledge to the field,” said Anh Duong, director of Borders and Maritime Security for DHS Science and Technology.

Projects are already underway, including the design and fabrication—featuring 3-D printed prototypes—of a Maritime Object Tracking Technology (MOTT) that will enable surface and airborne assets to deploy a multipurpose maritime tracking buoy for recovery of jettisoned objects or hazards to navigation at sea. With CG-STIC conducting the at-sea evaluations of the MOTT tracker, the RDC anticipates that the technology will be available for purchase by DHS and the Department of Defense by fall 2016. 

The CG-STIC’s official launch kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the R&D Center’s offices at Fort Trumbull, which was attended by many state and agency dignitaries.

In his welcoming remarks, Capt. Dennis Evans, commanding officer of the R&D Center, touched on the cooperative spirit of the Innovation Center, saying, “We recognize our collaboration is critical in transitioning technology and innovation to meet the needs of the department, the Coast Guard, and the American public at strong value to the taxpayer.” 

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and New London Mayor Michael E. Passero both declared May 5 as Coast Guard Science and Technology Innovation Center Day.

After the ceremony, guests toured the facility and met with scientists and researchers, who demonstrated R&D projects, including LED alternatives to pyrotechnic distress flares, nonlethal methods for stopping fleeing vessels, a remotely operated vessel, and night vision device evaluation. Guests were also able to examine an early prototype of the MOTT tracker.

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