Our coastal waters are the United States’ most open and vulnerable borders. This vast maritime domain harbors critical threats from terrorism, criminal activities, and natural disasters. Maritime borders pose significant security challenges, as nefarious entities have used small boats to conduct illegal activities for years, and they continue to do so today. Illegal drugs, money, weapons, and migrants flow both directions across our maritime borders, as vessels can quickly complete these transits without detection. To what extent could Automatic Identification System (AIS) technology improve border security against the small vessel threat? This thesis provides an overview of existing AIS systems and reviews the maritime border security effectiveness and cost benefit impacts of potential AIS equipment carriage requirements. We compared and analyzed policy options and reviewed implementation issues and concerns. Our conclusions are that the Department of Homeland Security should implement a regulation for all vessels, regardless of size, to install and broadcast Class A or Class B AIS when conducting international voyages. The proposed regulation would expand the existing Small Vessel Reporting System to a mandatory program wherein mariners are required to preregister and file float plans prior to conducting an international voyage. This proposed action provides direct support to three of the five basic homeland security missions: prevent terrorism and enhance security, secure and manage our borders, and enforce and administer our immigration laws.
Security Studies (Homeland Security and Defense)
Naval Postgraduate School
Master of Arts in Security Studies (Homeland Security and Defense)
National Security Affairs
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