Coast Guard’s Kluckhuhn started under the radar on vessel-tracking system

Great story from Government Computer News concerning one of the winners of the
GCN IT Leadership Awards 2007

As an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter pilot for the Coast Guard, one of Lt. Cmdr. Chris Kluckhuhn’s jobs was to log information about vessels he sighted off Cape Cod, Mass.

Kluckhuhn and his crew jotted information about the vessels on scraps of paper. Then they entered the information into the Coast Guard’s Maritime Information for Safety and Law Enforcement (MISLE) system, which Kluckhuhn described as a “huge, Web-based database application that wasn’t built with the field user in mind, in my opinion.”

The United States also requires that all merchant vessels notify the Coast Guard of their intention to enter the country 96 hours in advance of arrival.

“I’d ask the vessels right-of-approach questions — the standard international questions of ‘Where are you headed?’ and ‘What was your last port of call?’” Kluckhuhn said. “They have to report their port of call and verify that what’s on board is not a threat.”

But there was no way to confirm what the vessels reported. A ship could say it was headed to Portland, Maine, and then head toward New York. “That’s a red flag,” Kluckhuhn said.

He said he thought the paper-based, unverifiable system was not acceptable in a post-Sept. 11 world. “I knew we needed a better system, and I was committed to getting it implemented,” he said.

Without funding, staff, authority or approval, Kluckhuhn set out to develop a system that would exchange information easily and accurately between Coast Guard aviation crews and the Web-based MISLE.

Read the rest at GCN

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