VTS System Aims to Increase Port Security

Tuesday, February 25, 2003
The U.S. Coast Guard announced today that it has authorized Lockheed Martin to begin installation of three Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) systems to meet maritime safety and surveillance requirements in major U.S. ports, including New York harbor. Under the Ports and Waterways Safety System (PAWSS) contract, originally awarded by the Coast Guard in 1998, Lockheed Martin will install the VTS systems in New York Harbor, and in the Ports of Houston/Galveston and Port Arthur, Texas. The new systems, with a combined value of approximately $24 million, will be in place during 2004.

Initially designed to support the Coast Guard’s maritime safety and environmental protection mission, VTS also assists the service with its homeland security responsibilities by identifying, tracking and monitoring all ships transiting the port area. The Port of New York-New Jersey is the Eastern seaboard’s busiest port, handling nearly 66 million tons of cargo each year. The PAWSS system will enable the Coast Guard to pay closer attention to vessels requiring more detailed evaluation. “The Coast Guard will be able to quickly recognize those ships that have AIS transponders and as a result, go through the port-of-entry process more quickly,” said Alan Bills, Lockheed Martins’ program manager for PAWSS. “This will give the Coast Guard more time to identify those ships that do not have AIS transponders, thereby providing a better risk assessment of vessels entering the area.” The Lockheed Martin VTS system will consist of a vessel traffic center (VTC), located on Staten Island, as well as 13 radars, which will be placed along waterways throughout the Port of New York and New Jersey. The system will display tracks from the internationally approved Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder technology so the Coast Guard can easily identify ships coming into the port. Lockheed Martin in Syracuse, N.Y., already has supplied four ports with VTS systems under the PAWSS contract, including Valdez, Alaska; Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.; New Orleans, La. And Berwick, La.

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