Raytheon Markets Maritime Defense System

Raytheon software system tracks ships, combs databases for ship history


"The 'who pays' issue hasn't been resolved," noted Mary Anne Sudol, defense and aerospace analyst for the New York brokerage Caris & Co. "There's been a lot of tugging between the federal, state, and local governments, and the independent port authorities. Ports say it's a federal mandate, but the Homeland Security department says the responsibility rests with the port authorities. As a general proposition, this is slowing down the progress on many of these projects."

In this uncertain environment, Raytheon is limiting its own up-front investments and capitalizing on its existing capabilities. To track container ships and protect coastal installations, the company can draw on communications and command-and-control technologies it already has developed for programs like the Navy's DD(X) destroyer and the Army's JLENS system to fend off cruise missiles attacks. While Raytheon has acquired simulation software for Project Athena, the heart of the Athena system uses sensors, cameras, radars, public databases, and satellite imagery originally rolled out for military programs.

"We've taken things we've learned in other programs and applied it to maritime domain awareness," said Scott, the Project Athena program manager and Raytheon director of maritime domain awareness programs. "We call it actionable intelligence. It's not just finding a dot on the map. It's understanding which of the dots on the map is displaying some kind of suspicious behavior."

Project Athena is a networked system that can be installed at shore sites or quickly assembled at remote command posts. It integrates information from a variety of sensors and data banks to track container and tanker ships and other maritime activity. Software programs crawl through thousands of online shipping records to identify suspicious ships based on their ownership, history, registration, or destination. Once they are identified, Athena operators can track targeted ships through aerial or satellite surveillance and alert defense authorities to a potential threat.

As it expands, the system will also track activity in and around coastal airports and in air space over the ocean, working on the premise that a hijacked plane could attack an oil tanker, or a terrorist on a ship could launch a shoulder-fired missile at a passenger jet. Similarly, alternating between wide-area views and zooming in on specific targets, it will seek to keep tabs on smaller boats, coastal industrial plants, rail installations, and ground vehicles traveling on roads near ports.

Raytheon executives demonstrated the system for Rhode Island political leaders last month, stressing their expertise in networking electronics systems and integrating surveillance with intelligence. Governor Don Carcieri, senators Jack Reed and Lincoln Chafee, and congressmen Patrick Kennedy and Jim Langevin were among those gathering here to mark the opening of the Athena Fusion Center.

Political clout may become increasingly important for Raytheon as homeland security budgets grow and the company vies for bigger contracts with rivals such as Lockheed Martin, which also is pursuing a role as systems integrator.

Shawn D. James, vice president for maritime security and domain awareness at Lockheed Martin, acknowledges "there will be room for many different vendors and technologies" in protecting the homeland. "How you put them together will be key," James said, citing the need to build a national architecture enabling Pentagon and Homeland Security officials to share information.

While Raytheon has yet to crack the top 10 list of contractors for the Homeland Security department -- it ranked a distant 37th in fiscal 2004, the most recent year for figures were published -- Homeland Security officials welcome the company stepping up to the plate.

"Technology and the use of technology are going to be the most important tools we have in securing a range of areas, from the aviation domain to trucking to cargo shipping," said Brian J. Doyle, deputy press secretary for the Homeland Security department in Washington.

(Boston Globe, The (KRT) -- 12/29/05)