Sea Transportation: July 5, 2003


There is a looming Homeland Defense problem over who will be responsible for tracking merchant shipping, in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States via ports. Safeguarding the ports is the responsibility of the Coast Guard, and has been long before the Coast Guard became part of the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard does not have the resources to track merchant shipping on the high seas, the Navy doesn't either, but is in a better position to do the job than the Coast Guard. Currently, suspicious ships are identified by the CIA and then tracked, with NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) satellites and navy ships. There have also been reports of Navy SEALs and CIA agents planting tracking beacons on suspicious ships. Again, no one organization has the resources to deal with the tracking problem themselves. A joint effort is difficult to sustain, because each agency has different demands, of varying intensity, placed on it. This issue will eventually become a contentious one, and no easy solution is in sight.


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