Maritime domain awareness means the effective understanding of anything associated with the maritime domain that could impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of the U.S. Attaining and sustaining an effective understanding and awareness of the maritime domain requires the collection, fusion, analysis, and dissemination of prioritized categories of data, information, and intelligence. These are collected during the conduct of all Coast Guard missions. Awareness inputs come from Field Intelligence Support Teams, Maritime Intelligence Fusion Centers, Nationwide Automatic Identification System and other vessel tracking systems, and public reporting of suspicious incidents through America’s Waterway Watch
Maritime security regimes comprise a system of rules that shape acceptable activities in the maritime domain. Regimes include domestic and international protocols and/or frameworks that coordinate partnerships, establish maritime security standards, collectively engage shared maritime security interests, and facilitate the sharing of information. Domestically, the Coast Guard-led Area Maritime Security Committees carry out much of the maritime security regimes effort. Abroad, the Coast Guard works with individual countries and through the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations. Together, regimes and domain awareness inform decision makers and allow them to identify trends, anomalies, and activities that threaten or endanger U.S. interests.
Defeating terrorism requires integrated, comprehensive operations that maximize effectiveness without duplicating efforts. Security and response operations consist of counterterrorism and antiterrorism activities.
Counterterrorism activities are offensive in nature. The Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) is a highly specialized resource with advanced counterterrorism skills and tactics. The MSRT is trained to be a first responder to potential terrorist situations; deny terrorist acts; perform security actions against non-compliant actors; perform tactical facility entry and enforcement; participate in port level counterterrorism exercises; and educate other forces on Coast Guard counterterrorism procedures.
Antiterrorism activities are defensive in nature. As a maritime security agency, the Coast Guard uses its unique authorities, competencies, capacities, operational capabilities and partnerships to board suspect vessels, escort ships deemed to present or be at significant risk, enforce fixed security zones at maritime critical infrastructure and key resources, and patrol the maritime approaches, coasts, ports, and rivers of America. Coast Guard cutters, boats, helicopters, and shoreside patrols are appropriately armed and trained. Many current and planned antiterrorism activities support the Department of Homeland Security Small Vessel Security Strategy. Twelve Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSSTs) enforce security zones, conduct port state control boardings, protect military outloads, ensure maritime security during major marine events, augment shoreside security at waterfront facilities, detect Weapons of Mass Destruction, and participate in port level antiterrorism exercises in their homeports and other ports to which elements of an MSST may be assigned for operations.
Viewing maritime initiatives and policies as part of a larger system enables a better understanding of their relationships and effectiveness. A well designed system of regimes, awareness, and operational capabilities creates overlapping domestic and international safety nets, layers of security, and effective stewardship making it that much harder for terrorists to succeed.