1998 Year of the Ocean












This Year of the Ocean document was prepared as a background discussion paper and

does not necessarily reflect the policies of the U.S. Government or the U.S. Government

agencies that participated in its preparation.




The United Nations has designated 1998 as the "International Year of the Ocean." This reflects a growing international awareness of the paramount importance of the oceans. For the United States, the oceans are important for both their global economic and military security1. Public policy in the United States, along with private enterprise, have long been shaped by a keen appreciation of the strategic importance of the seas to the nation’s economic well-being and global security.

Oceans, seas, and waterways connect most of the nations and people of the world, either directly or indirectly. As modern communications and transport bring the world’s population closer together, the oceans become more important as avenues of connectivity than as barriers of separation. Throughout the nation’s history, the seagoing members of U.S. armed and auxiliary forces2, and a wide variety of civilian maritime participants3, have been involved in operations at sea and have assisted in articulating U.S. national security interests in matters pertaining to the oceans. It is on behalf of all those seagoing professionals who are deployed on U.S. flagged vessels around the globe that this paper is offered to promote a greater understanding of the relationship between the oceans and national security.



Global Mobility and Access

The role of naval power in U.S. military strategy is in transition. With the end of the Cold War, the United States is much less likely to face the prospects of a world war. However, uncertainty remains over when, where, and how future conflicts involving U.S. armed forces will occur. Draw-downs in the size of U.S. forces maintained, and a more diffuse and complex political environment, have put a premium on flexible forces that can quickly move anywhere and remain there for a long time. These forces must function without undue logistic strain to respond to threats to international peace or security. There is also a premium on flexible forces that are capable of multiple missions. Maritime forces have inherent strengths which make them America’s best tool to effectively meet most emergent and changing military situations.

Through the use of the world’s oceans by U.S. forces, the advantage of on-scene capabilities for simultaneously executing all three components of the National Military Strategy is possible without infringing on any nation’s sovereignty. According to the Chief of Naval Operations: "The Navy contribution to our national security objectives


1Whereas other Year of the Ocean discussion papers have used the singular form ocean, this paper uses the plural form as a means of acknowledging the importance of specific locations within a military context.

2Includes uniformed members of National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Seagoing Commissioned Officers Corps.

3Includes the men and women who command and crew ships which are either owned by or under charter to the Military Sealift Command, the U.S. Maritime Administration, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.



is defined by the major components of the National Military Strategy: peacetime engagement, deterrence and conflict prevention, and controlling crises."4 This role is rooted in the fundamental ability of the Navy-Marine Corps-Coast Guard Team to maneuver independently of the control of other nations and win. This is done through an ability to operate in international waters with forward deployed forces in the highest possible state of readiness.

Modern military systems allow the United States to hold potential adversaries at risk at ever greater distances. As technologies shrink the globe, the United States is effectively closer to potential enemies who also have long-distance military capabilities. To counter these capabilities, U.S. forces must be prepared to use the oceans to meet potential adversaries on their home ground or on waters far from U.S. coasts. In this very important way, the oceans can buffer North America from conflict overseas.

Key to the ability to provide trained, ready forces anywhere in the world at any time to meet our national security objectives is freedom of navigation. U.S. public vessels provide a forward U.S. presence to protect our own and allied interests. Freedom of the seas also ensures that commercial and military cargoes can move freely by sea. The U.S. has a special interest in maintaining secure, stable lines of communication at sea throughout the world. As the 21st century approaches, the United States can look back at fifty years of relative peace on the high seas. Maintaining this combination of security and navigational freedom of the seas is a fundamental condition for global peace, security, and prosperity.

Overflight Freedom

Freedom of navigation applies not just to the oceans but to the airways above, and ensures that aircraft are free to move passengers and cargo over the oceans to their destinations. Freedom of overflight, like freedom of navigation, permits military forces to respond in times of crisis and is essential to free trade. No one can legally deny anyone the right to fly over the oceans in international airspace, and no landing rights are required for military flight operations at sea. The fact that aircraft operating independently or in conjunction with warships may operate up to 12 nautical miles from any littoral (coastal) state eases access ashore.

Both maritime and airborne freedom of navigation require assured safe passage, free from the threat of harm. Both require provisions for safety, rescue, and navigational assistance. Freedom of overflight above the oceans is as important as the freedom of maritime navigation, in both commercial and military terms.

Power Projection

The oceans provide access to littoral states. Military presence on the high seas provides the United States with the capability to project power to areas of international tensions, to help friends and allies, and to preserve international peace and stability. A range of options is thereby available to U.S. foreign policy makers. Military power may be projected symbolically as a diplomatic goodwill gesture or to deter war.


4Department of the Navy, Forward from the Sea, p.1. (1997).


Mobility, endurance, lift, and response are the components of global projection of military power over the oceans. Sealift and airlift can transport land forces and materiel across the oceans to most trouble spots worldwide. Naval forces have the unique ability to remain at their stations for months, ensuring continued presence on the oceans wherever trouble may arise.


Naval forces are among the most useful of diplomatic tools. Policy makers can send them to over two-thirds of the world’s surface at any time without having to obtain advance basing rights or prior permission to conduct naval movements. Having a sound capability for deploying military forces to almost any coastal (littoral) area makes it possible for the United States to provide the tangible leadership that is necessary to facilitate the assembly of coalition forces, or negotiate forward basing rights should the circumstances so require.

While U.S. maritime forces may not be immediately visible offshore, they are a potent deterrent to potential adversaries since such forces can arrive quickly and remain indefinitely. Routine forward deployment provides the President of the United States with "on-call military presence" almost anywhere in the world and furnishes the capability to project military power and show credible resolve without provoking war. This presence also reminds potential adversaries of U.S. military capability and resolve to enforce international law. In this regard, the oceans and U.S. naval forces provide the United States with unparalleled peacemaking capability and promote the rule of law.

Sea Denial and Operations Other Than War

As world attention turns from the old ideological East-West confrontation of the Cold War to the economic disparity between developed free market societies and developing nations, there has been a re-emergence of maritime interception operations in situations short of hostilities. There has been no decrease in crises that require military operations other than war. Transoceanic operating and logistic capability permit the United States to take a lead in such operations, often as a member of a multinational coalition.

Since 1989, several multilateral embargoes have been enforced by coalition naval forces. These have been supported by the consensus of the international community, and conducted under international law. Such embargoes are best understood as attempts to maintain world order, peace, and human rights rather than as acts of war. Modern maritime interception operations are typically mandated by resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, and normally allow humanitarian shipments of food and medicine to the civilian population. Naval "visit and search" operations are conducted with respect to international law and custom.

Examples of maritime interception operations include the multinational maritime interdiction operations against Haiti, Serbia/Montenegro, and Iraq. These operations are less than airtight and require time to take effect. However, they are part of the foreign policy process which led to the implementation of democracy in Haiti, motivated Serbia to accept the Dayton Accord, and reduced Iraq’s capability for military aggression both before and after the Gulf War. The United States has been at the forefront of this emerging area of modern operational peacemaking.

In the realm of military operations other than war, naval forces also contribute presence and amphibious capability, along with the ability to apply power at varying levels of intensity in "smaller scale contingencies." Such maritime and littoral contingencies include:

Information Warfare

The ocean environment enhances military command, control, and communications. Ocean-borne platforms can provide military units deployed overseas with constant, secure, real-time communication with tactical and strategic leadership in the United States. Information superiority has several components: gathering, processing, and disseminating information; information operations to defend against attack; and information operations directed against an adversary’s information5. Information warfare is in its infancy but holds forth the hope of military dominance without the use of physical force or loss of life.

Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (IS&R)

The forward presence of ocean-based military forces enable the United States to gain a better understanding of developing political military situations. Developing better intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance are key ways to improve awareness of the battlespace, to track the disposition of enemy forces, to enhance transparency among nations (i.e., reduce the risk of accidental war), and to monitor U.S. allied and neutral warfighting assets. Better IS&R technology permits more precise tracking of enemy assets, allowing for more effective disabling of opponents with less use of firepower, less brute force, and less chance of collateral damage to noncombatants.


5Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Military Strategy of the United States of America, p.2 (1995).



It also promises the potential for improved tactical and strategic awareness, enabling forces to "fight smarter." Thus, the use of up-to-date information technology and modern sensors can help reduce battlespace confusion, often referred to as the "fog of war."

Tactical Environmental Support

A thorough understanding of the dynamics of the ocean environment is necessary for the success of maritime missions. The Navy’s operational oceanography community6 is responsible for understanding the effects of the natural environment on the planning and execution of naval operations, and for interpreting atmospheric and ocean phenomena for forces worldwide. This community must respond to new technological opportunities and to new mission needs.

The ocean and marine environment affect all aspects of naval warfare. Amphibious, mine, and special warfare forces all require rapid, accurate environmental information to support their basic operations. The ocean’s structure, which varies due to subtle changes in salinity and temperature, determines how sound propagates through water and thus affects the use of sonars; likewise, the environment can be used to find or hide submarines. Similarly, changes in temperature and moisture through the atmosphere affect radars used to detect incoming aircraft or missiles and can create "ducts" where radars cannot detect incoming threats. Today’s high-tech weaponry increasingly requires sophisticated environmental inputs for optimal performance and to support the precision required to engage hostile targets while avoiding collateral damage to civilians persons, property, and other noncombatants.

In coastal regions, the dynamics of marine weather and ocean processes are closely intertwined and change rapidly in both space and time. Accurate short-term and long-term modeling of ocean effects can contribute greatly to the success of naval operations. Continued rapid advancements in the modeling field, and especially in the modeling of coastal areas, will continue to maximize the operational capabilities of naval forces.

New technology is continually being exploited, including the use and development of new satellite sensors to collect data remotely--especially in regions where access is limited. Microsensor technology is being exploited to create small, often expendable sensors such as drifting buoys and miniaturized weather stations to gather information on microscale features. Relatively small portable sensors are being used on-scene to conduct rapid coastal surveys and measure near-shore underwater obstacles.

Despite progress in remote sensing of the environment, vast areas of the world’s coastal zones remain devoid of data. Military commanders will continue to require data with ever greater resolution and accuracy to enhance their margin of safety and optimize their decision making. Additionally, advances in computer technologies are needed to analyze such data and improve predictions of the effects of the environment on naval operations.


6Headed by the Oceanographer of the Navy on the Chief of Naval Operations Staff and supported by 3,000 plus civilians and military personnel worldwide.





Three U.S. uniformed armed services operate on the world’s oceans: the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard. Each has a different mission and unique capabilities. The Navy forward deploys heavily armed air, surface, and subsurface platforms forward to carry our nation’s battles overseas and check adversaries on "blue water." The Marines respond in times of crisis with ship-borne amphibious expeditionary forces to carry the fight forward and ashore from the sea. The Coast Guard’s national security missions include national defense, maritime safety, maritime law enforcement, and marine environmental protection.

National Defense Operations

Because of the special capabilities of their vessels and the training of their crews, Coast Guard units play a critical support role and sometimes lead in enforcing UN sanctions and international embargoes at sea. Although the Coast Guard recently deployed its own surface assets to enforce the UN sanctions against Iraq in the Northern Arabian Gulf, it is often the case that a Coast Guard boarding team operates from a Navy vessel. The Navy and Coast Guard also provide for harbor defense in the event of a contingency involving maritime transport of military equipment to provide the joint commanders with safe maritime transportation into and out of strategic ports.

Maritime Safety

The Coast Guard is charged with ensuring the safe operation of commercial and private vessels, safe movement of vessels in and out of ports, and salvage and recovery operations. For example, the Coast Guard has responsibility for maritime search and rescue, but often relies on commercial mariners and airmen, as well as the Navy, to provide vital surface and air assets to assist in such operations, particularly when the operations are long range. The Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation Program and Vessel Traffic Services provide for the safe and efficient movement of vessels into and out of high traffic ports.

Maritime Law Enforcement

Interagency cooperation has been the key to the United States’ increasing effectiveness in the vital area of maritime law enforcement. Such efforts involve the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Justice Department, the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, as well as numerous state and local law enforcement agencies. These agencies cooperate to prevent shipments of contraband by sea and preserve the living marine resources of the United States.

In addition to being an armed service, the Coast Guard is also the only federal law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in both U.S. waters and on the high seas. In this arena, the Coast Guard is the primary enforcer of U.S. laws that include customs and border control statutes, marine resource protection regulations, and the interdiction of contraband. This law enforcement authority distinguishes the Coast Guard from other branches of the armed forces and provides the nation with unique options for responding to national security challenges7. The Coast Guard’s maritime law enforcement role was rooted in its inception as the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790. The Service's 207 years of experience fighting piracy, combating smuggling and fiscal violations, and enforcing other U.S. laws inside U.S. waters make it the Navy’s natural partner for national security in sea denial missions, such as maritime interception operations.

Counterdrug operations have become one of the Coast Guard's most prominent law enforcement missions. The Coast Guard, as the nation’s lead agency for maritime interdiction of illegal narcotics and co-lead agency for air interdiction, regularly conducts aggressive counterdrug patrols throughout the Caribbean Sea, eastern Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Joint operations are frequently undertaken in a unified environment involving several different agencies, including the Department of Defense (the lead agency for detection and monitoring), the Department of Justice (which prosecutes those who violate the law), and other civil law enforcement agencies.

Enforcement of living marine resource regulations is critical to the protection of not only the resources, but also the commercial fishing industry. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) manages the resources and develops regulations that are enforced at sea by the Coast Guard and NMFS enforcement agents. Most of those matters are handled administratively by NMFS although some actions are brought in court by the Department of Justice. This arrangement has served the North Pacific fisheries well and can hopefully be duplicated to preserve those few remaining stocks off the North Atlantic coast.

The Coast Guard’s prevention, enforcement, and response role in marine environmental protection helps to reduce the amount of pollution entering the world’s waterways. In response to marine environmental challenges, the Coast Guard has equipped its newest class of ocean-going buoy tenders with a pollution response capability. As a world leader in marine environmental protection, the Coast Guard, in conjunction with other agencies, shapes the safety and pollution control standards for international and domestic maritime transportation through its policy-making activities and enforcement of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act8, the Clean Water Act9, and the Shore Protection Act10. and other laws and regulations.


7U.S. Coast Guard, National Security and the Coast Guard, (COMDTPUB CP 16011.1), P. 8 (1995)

833 U.S.Code, Section 1401.

933 U.S.Code Sections 1215-1387.

1033 U.S.Code, Chapter 39




Platforms operating at sea bring special capabilities to the table in those situations in which U.S. military forces must be ordered into action to meet one or more components of our national strategy of peacetime engagement, deterrence and conflict prevention, or conflict control. Navy and Coast Guard vessels have unique attributes of carrying capacity, the endurance inherent to the duty cycle, mobility, sovereignty, and other abilities to resist attack:

Carrying capacity: Ships can duplicate land bases because of their ability to carry a variety of essential defense functions. Theater missile defense is one example. Although space systems may contribute to the launch detection of hostile missile(s), large, heavy radars based at sea are needed to either detect, in the case of depressed trajectories, or to manage the interception of hostile missile threats. Ships are the obvious platform for such systems since they can carry the detection systems as well as large quantities of interceptors. Because of their carrying capacity, ships are also ideal platforms for almost all heavy logistics evolutions, command and control duties, space tracking, and intelligence operations.

Duty cycle and Mobility: The constant presence of a ship gives U.S. military planners a significant advantage. Space sensors generally observe intermittently, and airborne sensors, unless based aboard ship, require large numbers to maintain a presence far from base. Because ships can often perform their missions far from a potential adversary’s coastline, they can continuously gather valuable information without threatening or alerting them.

Sovereignty: Warships and public vessels engaged in non-commercial service enjoy sovereign immunity. Therefore, questions of landing or access rights do not arise if U.S. ships are operating on the high seas or transiting through littoral areas and through straits.

Defense against physical attack and jamming: A ship standing well offshore is much more secure from physical attack than warfare centers ashore, and it has the carrying capacity to serve as the platform of choice for many information collection operations against an actual or potential adversary. Warfare centers ashore may be surrounded by a hostile populace and if attacked from over the horizon, must defend in a more cluttered environment. A moving ship is much harder to target with a missile or truck-bomb than an installation ashore, whose static coordinates can be read from a map or a GPS receiver. The positioning of warfare capabilities offshore provides separation from the land-based jammers, thus limiting their effect.








The ocean has always had a profound influence on human life and activities. It has been an important source of food and means of commerce. In recent decades, the United States has been the world leader both in basic ocean studies and research on the ocean’s practical influence on human activities. This pioneering work has been largely the result of remarkably successful partnerships between federal agencies and universities, in which federal agencies support the research of academic scientists who provide internal and external research through a variety of mechanisms.

Oceanographic research, funded in large part by the federal government, is important to many of the nation’s social concerns, including national security. World political changes are redefining national defense interests, and altering our research and development priorities for the littoral areas where our national defense operations are most likely to take place. Experience gained in the 1991 Gulf War, highlighted the need for better information related to oceanic and coastal processes.

U.S. Oceanography since World War II11

World War II thrust the United States into global affairs, and its many sea campaigns not only drew public interest to the ocean but highlighted our lack of understanding of it. Most members of the small marine science community turned to military oriented work in uniform, in the civil service, or at universities and related institutions. Academic ships, as well as those of the federal government, were put on Navy research and surveying tasks. The Navy needed oceanographic help in everything from submarine warfare to amphibious landings. This assistance contributed to the war effort and demonstrated to the nation that marine science was more than an abstract endeavor and could contribute to the public good on many levels.

Since World War II, the United States has been a world leader in most areas of oceanography. Vannevar Bush’s Science: The Endless Frontier is still the classic statement of the essential ingredients of scientific excellence. He noted that "without scientific progress, no amount of achievement in other directions can ensure our health, prosperity, and security as a nation in the modern world. This essential new knowledge can only be obtained through basic scientific research." The plan of Vannevar Bush for government support of university science led to the formation of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), which is charged with ensuring the development of strong academic research programs in scientific fields of interest to the Navy. The Cold War and the threat from both surface vessels and, particularly, submarines led ONR to conclude that expanding and strengthening the basic science of the ocean were in the national interest.


11See generally, U.S. Naval Academy Press, Oceanography into the Next Decade, (1992)

The postwar and post-Sputnik periods from 1960 to 1980 were marked by growing national awareness of the world and an intense interest in science. In marine science, interest broadened globally , leading to such major ocean-related programs as the International Geophysical Year, the Deep Sea Drilling Project and the International Decade of Ocean Exploration. While originally responsible for the postwar academic expansion of oceanography, the Navy is progressively concentrating its support in a more limited number of Navy-relevant areas, but continues to provide some oceanographic research vessels to U.S. academic institutions and provide research opportunities for use of specialized platforms12.

Oceanographic research studies with national security implications include hydrodynamics, marine life, the interaction of seawater with ocean boundaries, ocean acoustics, and geoacoustics. Knowledge of the exchanges of energy, heat, and mass at the ocean-atmosphere interface is important to climate and weather prediction. Oceanographic research has advanced from the past era of exploration to one of increased observation and description of oceans systems and interactions with the atmosphere.

Beyond Ocean Scientific Research: Civil Applications

Over the years, practical oceanic research has resulted in spin-offs which benefit everyone worldwide. Navigation charts and aids are the prime example of a naval contribution which benefits civilian mariners worldwide. The National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) is chartered to provide DoD-wide mapping, charting, and geodesy support. Under the Navy’s direction, NIMA is producing digital replications of traditional paper nautical charts to support the Navy’s transition from paper to digital navigation products. Known as Digital Nautical Charts (DNC),™ these digital charts allow near real-time display of one’s own GPS position and significantly enhance the safety of navigation at sea. Through joint efforts between the Navy and NIMA, new survey sounding information will also be seamlessly incorporated into future editions of DNC™. NIMA’s world leadership in the production of digital charts holds considerable promise for the civil sector.

The Navy also took the lead in providing LORAN and the two-dimensional TRANSIT satellite navigation system for maritime navigation. These programs led to the development of the current standard, the joint three-dimensional NAVSTAR global positioning system (GPS). GPS relies in part on space-borne clocks developed by the Naval Research Laboratory’s Timation program13. Mariners worldwide benefit from these navigation aids.


12Research Facilities: ONR assists in the management of the federal and academic fleet of oceanographic research ships, remotely operated vehicle (ROV) technologies (manipulative capabilities), and other oceanographic platforms that support the Department of the Navy and national science and technology projects. The Navy is exploring the use of other specialized platforms (e.g., ALVIN, ROVs, AUVs, etc.) to increase science and technology capabilities. The Coast Guard provides support to ocean research by operating and maintaining the U.S.’ only polar icebreakers. Currently, there are two of these valuable assets in commission with a third under construction. These platforms are tasked with the re-supply of U.S. research facilities in the Arctic and Antarctic regions as well as providing research facilities onboard for use by embarked scientists.


The research into secure and reliable means of maritime communication has extended into the civilian sector. Financial institutions are studying methods engineered for the military for safe, reliable, and rapid means of moving large volumes of data, secure from the danger of disruption or unauthorized monitoring. The Internet, the result of communications programs funded by the Department of Defense, has provided incalculable benefits worldwide. There are countless other examples of the fruits of military research spilling over into the field of marine engineering, marine environmental and pollution control technology, meteorology systems, communications, and biology.

Ocean Data, the Public, and the Navy

The Navy is a major provider of oceanographic information as well as an end-user and much of this information has been freely distributed as a matter of course. While being careful to ensure that data gathered for military operations is handled in accordance with existing international norms, the end of the Cold War has enabled the Navy to declassify a significant amount of formerly classified data, some of which has been useful to scientific pursuits.

Procedures to allow increased access by civilian scientists to the Navy’s underwater surveillance system14 (SOSUS) data are being implemented. Initial investigations of civil applications, coordinated closely with NOAA, proved remarkably fruitful. For example, a short demonstration project that was conducted provided more information on marine mammal movements than all the data previously collected. SOSUS also proved to be the most effective monitoring system for underwater earthquakes, providing the possibility of better tsunami (tidal wave) predictions. NOAA is investigating whether SOSUS could aid offshore fisheries enforcement in detecting illegal drift-net deployments. Researchers also want to use the system for acoustic monitoring of the ocean water to detect change in global climate, relying on the premise that sound travels at different speeds through water depending on density and temperature.

Greater public access to formerly classified Navy information, and relaxation of foreign disclosure and export controls are the result of changes in the world’s political/military situation. In the late 1980s, the Navy declassified selected Arctic under-ice data collected by Navy submarines for use in climate change research. An Environmental Task Force comprised of academics, scientists, and government officials was later established to determine the potential usefulness of classified intelligence and defense databases for addressing serious global environmental problems. The Central Intelligence Agency has agreed to release millions of 1960s era satellite images, and the Navy has declassified all sea level (altimetry) data from GEOSAT satellites, which researchers have used to improve the nation’s knowledge of global seafloor features and the earth’s gravity field. A Navy working group is completing review of additional data sets for declassification.


14SOSUS is comprised of a series of acoustic listening arrays on the seafloor which was developed during the Cold War to detect the Soviet submarine fleet.





Commercial Transport

International and maritime trade have been growing at twice the rate of the world’s economy for some time. Large merchant vessels are the most flexible and cost-effective modes of intercontinental and coastal transport. Increasingly, new markets and new resources are found overseas. As the world evolves from a collection of disconnected national and regional economies to one global inter-linked economy, freedom of commercial transit on the high seas and through straits and other navigational choke points becomes ever more important. At the same time, the ability of military forces to respond abroad in case of crisis requires the sealift and logistic support that can only be provided by the U.S. merchant fleet.

Military and commercial mobility on the high seas are linked. Commercial navigation depends on naval forces to keep open the lines of communication. Naval forces depend on commercial trade for logistics support. Commercial navigation requires security and freedom from both state-sponsored interference and freelance piracy. It requires freedom from illegal regulatory controls by foreign governments, as well as safe and efficient use and access to the nation’s ports and waterways.

Sealift, Shipbuilding and Repair, and Maritime Employment

The United States must assure a viable maritime industrial base to satisfy its commercial and military requirements. Cabotage laws, which govern navigation and trading along the coast and include such statutes as The Passenger Ship Act of 188615 and The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (Jones Act)16, are common to over 45 countries. By imposing citizenship and construction requirements for vessels to engage in domestic trade, these laws seek an adequate national fleet in peacetime to sustain the nation in war. Opponents, however, argue that such laws restrict free trade and increase costs. Government shipbuilding subsidies or loan guarantees, such as the Maritime Loan Guarantee Program (Title XI), are a common means used by nations to support their industrial base. Some argue that free trade, competition, and elimination of international subsidies could allow the nation to meet its economic requirements. However, the President’s 1993 Plan for Competing in the International Market looks carefully at these competing considerations and comes out in favor of a policy of limited government support in meeting the nation’s commercial and military sealift requirements. This is set forth in National Security Directive 28:

"The U.S. national sealift objective is to ensure that sufficient military and civil maritime resources will be available to meet defense deployment and essential economic requirements in support of our national security strategy. The Department of Defense will determine the requirements for sealift of deploying forces,


1546 U.S. Code Appendix Section 289.

1646 U.S. Code Appendix Section 883.

follow-on supply and sustainment, shipbuilding and ship repair. In coordination with the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation will determine the capacity of our merchant marine industries to meet these requirements and to provide the sealift required to support the essential industrial activity during wartime."

National Security Directive 28 reflects the link between the seagoing armed services, U.S.-flag merchant vessels, the merchant seamen who crew them, and the commercial maritime industrial base of ports, shipyards, and ship repair facilities. Playing a vital national security role since colonial days, the U.S. Merchant Marine is often referred to as another arm of the nation’s defense.

The 1992 Mobility Requirements Study, the 1995 Bottom-Up Review, and the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review reaffirmed the requirements for "defense deployment." To deploy U.S. forces overseas and resupply them, the U.S. Merchant Marine provides U.S.-flag civilian-crewed commercial ships and civilian crews to government-owned support ships. These sealift assets account for about 95 percent of all the tonnage delivered in support of military requirements in peacetime and during times of crisis. Naval shipyards and ship repair facilities build and help maintain Navy and merchant ships, activate inactive ships, and repair battle-damaged vessels.

Over 4,800 civilian mariners crew the 200 commercial vessels with military features which are included in the Afloat Preposition Force, Fast Sealift Ships, Ready Reserve Force ships, Maritime Security Fleet, and Navy Fleet Auxiliary Force. Over half of these sealift ships are actively deployed or are in commercial service around the globe. The Maritime Security Fleet is composed of militarily useful dry cargo commercial vessels which receive operating assistance in return for a commitment that these vessels, and the commercial intermodal systems which support them, will be made available for national security purposes if needed. Inactive strategic sealift ships are positioned throughout the United States and overseas and are capable of being activated within 4 to 20 days. All of the vessels in 4 or 5 day readiness have a cadre crew of civilian mariners. These vessels have already proven their value in supporting defense deployments in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia.

The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration is charged with ensuring a viable U.S. Merchant Marine and maritime industry to meet national security needs. The Maritime Administration, in cooperation with the Navy, supports programs directed towards sustaining the maritime infrastructure, including maritime education and training; National Defense Features and Title XI loans; operational differential subsidies and maritime security agreements; and the development of technologies and industrial processes. Since 1980, major shipbuilding in the United States has been maintained predominantly by construction of Naval vessels, but with the end of the Cold War, the Navy’s construction program has been significantly reduced. The Navy’s proposed Fiscal Year 1997-2003 shipbuilding program will average less than six ships a year compared to 10 ships per year in Fiscal Year 1992-1997 and 19 new ships per year during the 1980s. To maintain the "shipyard mobilization base," necessary to build, repair and activate Navy and merchant ships, more commercial ship construction is needed. In 1996, the United States constructed only 1.8 percent of the world’s gross tonnage; Japan and Korea accounted for almost 60 percent.

Present programs recognize that the decline in the number of oceangoing ships operated, repaired, or built in the United States impacts the industrial base of shipyards and their labor force. There are over 280 privately owned firms of varying capabilities, employing over 98,000 workers, involved in shipbuilding and ship repair in the United States. However, only 43 yards are capable of dry-docking vessels of 122 meters in length or over17, and only 6 shipyards are building Navy combatant ships. This impacts the Navy with respect to the number of U.S. facilities and qualified shipyard workers available to activate, build, and repair active and naval auxiliary vessels in times of national emergency. The United States has to assure a viable military industrial base to meet it’s military sealift needs. While this requirement receives less attention than other military budget items, it is of great importance to National Security and will be subject to continuous review and debate.



Environmental Security Challenges and Response

The Law of the Sea (LOS) Convention is a fundamental framework for the array of international agreements18 that protect ocean access, maintain the environmental quality of the oceans, and guard against imprudent exploitation of marine resources. In the past, the rigor of the ocean environment alone was sufficient to safeguard ocean resources from over-exploitation. Scientific progress brought technology, which in turn put living oceanic resources within reach for commercial harvest and seabed extraction. Nations began to face overfishing, as whalers and giant drift nets depleted stocks and even threatened species with extinction. There was also uncertainty over ownership and sovereignty of hydrocarbons and minerals and threats posed to the marine environment from oil spills associated with oil exploration and transportation. Because all nations enjoy the benefits of proper management of the world’s natural resources, responsible international management of ocean resources is in the interest of all nations.


17U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration Report on Survey of U.S. Shipbuilding and Repair Facilities pgs. 40, 54 (1996)

18Includes the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (Basel Convention); The 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London Convention 1972), as recently amended; The Safety of Life at Sea Convention 1974, as amended (SOLAS Convention); The 1973 Convention and 1978 Protocol for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL); and the 1972 Convention on Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS).

Recognizing that national and global security are enhanced by protection of ocean resources, the Navy, Coast Guard and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have mounted a combined effort to detect, monitor, and suppress illegal large-scale high-seas driftnet activity19. The Departments of Justice and State are addressing these illegal activities in legal and diplomatic fora, and in 1991, Navy operational monitoring assets began being used for high-seas driftnet detection. In an effort to assist in the recovery of the endangered Northern Right Whales in the critical habitat located off the coasts of Georgia and Florida, the Navy has undertaken extensive operational measures to preclude whale injury resulting from operations along the Eastern Seaboard. The Coast Guard and the Navy are also providing direct monitoring assistance to the NMFS and conservation organizations to study the migratory and other behavioral patterns of the Northern Right Whales to protect that species.

On the international scale, the serious decline of fisheries in the Grand Bank of Newfoundland20, the George’s Banks off New England, and other areas have either spawned incidents of violence involving armed forces or created other clear implications for global security. Legal regimes are being negotiated to deal with "ownerless" resources and marine pollution that cannot be specifically linked to particular vessels or nations, especially land-based sources21. Practical solutions are needed. The Department of Defense, in cooperation with other agencies, has begun isolating and containing the effects of serious pollution incidents22. The Navy is also now a part of a team working to develop a Black Sea Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan which would be implemented by naval forces based in the Black Sea23.

Environmentally Sound Ships

The Assistant Secretary of the Navy noted the importance of the environment to the Navy mission stating:

"By maintaining compliance with all environmental standards, we ensure our access to training and operating ranges on land, in the air, and at sea. We recognize that many of our actions, whether it is to train new Sailors or Marines, maintain readiness of combat forces, or test new weapon systems have an impact on the natural environment.


19Large scale (greater than 2.5 kms in length) high sea driftnets are banned by a 1991 UN General Assembly Resolutions 44.225, 45.197, and 46.215 because of the devastating impact of large-scale driftnet fishing on both the targeted fish stocks and because of the problem in incidental damage to marine mammals and non-target fish species. Abandoned driftnets are also a serious hazard to navigation.

20The collapse of the cod stocks are indicative of the collapse of once numerous species including herring, halibut, and blue-fin tuna. Indiscriminate fishing techniques (e.g., use of large nets and trawls which scrape the sea floor, use of drift nets, and precision navigation devices) consume entire populations in single scoops. In 1996, the World Conservation Union’s annual Red Data Book of threatened species listed for the first time numerous marine fish-more than 100 kinds worldwide including cod, haddock, blue fin tuna, swordfish, Nassau grouper, and summer flounder.

21International norms are just evolving to attack the transboundary impacts of pollution from land-based sources. Since over 90 percent of ocean pollution is derived from land-based sources, this problem is especially acute.

22Literally thousands of mostly small, spills occur every year around the world. Incidents like the 250,000 barrel spill of Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound in 1989 and the release of 12 million barrels of oil in the Persian Gulf as “ecocide” by Iraq during the Gulf War are two of the most prominent examples. The Navy and the Coast Guard have developed a worldwide oil spill contingency plan and response capability in cooperation with other nations. State-of-the-art oil spill recovery equipment is pre-positioned in strategic locations and maintained in a constant state of readiness. If needed, the recovery equipment can be shipped by military aircraft to remote locations.

23The plan will be exercised by elements of the U.S. Sixth Fleet during the summer of 1998.

We need to understand those impacts, and take appropriate actions to minimize them. Beyond the strict interpretation of the law, we have an ethical responsibility to conserve the natural resources entrusted to us."24

This principle has been reinforced by the Chief of Naval Operations who stated that "national defense and environmental protection are and must continue to be compatible goals. Therefore, an important part of the Navy’s mission is to prevent pollution, protect the environment, and protect natural, historic, and cultural resources."25 Consistent with that policy, protection of the marine environment is mission essential. Navy ships conduct operations, in port and at sea, in such a manner as to minimize or eliminate any adverse impact on the marine environment26.

The sea services work hard to be good stewards of the oceans. The Navy views protection of the environment as a very practical challenge for operations and logistics. Recognizing the importance of assessing environmental factors and impacts during operations at sea, the Navy, in conjunction with the Joint Staff, is developing a Naval Warfare Publication (NWP 4-11). This document will serve as a ready reference for operational planners, afloat staffs, and vessel commanders seeking to integrate complex environmental requirements into day-to-day operations.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is responsible for implementing the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973, as modified by the 1978 Protocol (MARPOL 73/78). MARPOL establishes legal principles, applied to owners and operators through the national laws of the flag state, which govern the control of marine pollution as a result of vessel/platform source emissions into the air and water. Because the roles of military vessels are unique, MARPOL 73/78 exempts warships, naval auxiliaries, and other public vessels on noncommercial service from compliance but does require each party to adopt appropriate measures, not impairing the operations or operational capabilities of such ships, to comply with the Convention in so far as reasonable and practicable27. This "exemption" is frequently misunderstood by the public to mean that navies are not taking action to prevent pollution. The Navy complies with waste treatment and disposal standards, generally speaking, that are far more rigorous than those mandated by IMO regulations. To this end, "the Navy has established the goal of Environmentally Sound Ships of the 21st century (ESS-21) that will be able to minimize waste generation and treat or destroy unavoidable waste on board."28


24Pirie, R.B. Jr., Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Environment). Statement before the Subcommittee on Readiness of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Fiscal Year 98 Department of the Navy Environmental Budget. 15 April 1997.

25Dept. of the Navy, Environmental and Natural Resources Manual (OPNAVINST 5090.1B) (1994).


27Article 3, International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of Ships, 1973.

28Dept. of the Navy, Report to Congress, U.S. Navy Ship Solid Waste Management Plan for MARPOL Annex V Special Areas, Nov. 1, 1996. The Navy’s 21st Century Surface Combatant (SC-21) will satisfy applicable environmental regulations related to waste management while at the same time functioning as a highly capable warship. A NATO Naval Armaments Group (SWF/12) is examining on a similar concept in a NATO context.

The Navy has also installed install plastic waste processors on most surface vessels in order to avoid plastic disposal at sea. Congress also gave the U.S. Navy until the year 2000 to install pulpers and metal and glass shredders on surface ships. Other developmental successes include oil water separators, sewage vacuum collection systems, and elimination programs for ozone depleting substances, including conversion, replacement, and recycling initiatives. Naval designers have started to consider advanced waste treatment systems for future ship designs, including thermal destruction technologies (such as the plasma arc), to support ESS-21. Research and development is also proceeding on development of oily water membrane effluent minimization systems, and sewage and graywater treatment systems. To prevent the introduction of non-indigenous species, the Navy has implemented a rigorous ballast water exchange procedure for ships so equipped. Obviously, the technological gains which the Navy makes in connection with ESS-21 system development may have civil applications and benefits.

Public and congressional support is key to the ability of naval forces to maintain the required readiness to achieve national security objectives and execute the National Military Strategy. Therefore, the Navy has involved the public, environmental groups, and legislative representatives in Navy marine environmental protection programs. A forward looking environmental policy ensures that the sea services operating overseas can continue to enjoy port access because of their good reputation abroad for pollution control and waste disposal.



Maritime Forces must comply with laws that directly protect ocean resources. The Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) require such forces to avoid the taking of marine mammals and, in the case of the ESA, to consult with appropriate resource agencies regarding operations that may affect the continued existence of endangered species or may modify their critical habitat.

Potential environmental impacts are fully analyzed through a comprehensive environmental planning process, complying with the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for activities within the United States29 and Executive Order 12114 for activities outside of the United States. The Navy has found that early consideration of potential environmental impacts can enhance military readiness by assuring access to critical training areas. Operational doctrine is also being written to fuse the analysis which is conducted for environmental compliance purposes with all other military planning conducted in advance of military exercises or operations.

The Departments of Defense (represented by the Navy) and EPA are developing Uniform National Discharge Standards30 to address the problem of differing State Water Quality standards as they pertained to liquid discharges from warships and other public vessels which could have adverse impacts on the marine environment. The resulting regulation, developed in consultation with other Federal agencies and affected states, will enable DoD to operate under one uniform environmental protection standard throughout the United States.


29Including the 3 nautical mile limit of the territorial sea subject to state jurisdiction.

30This initiative was authorized by Section 525 of the 1996 National Defense Authorization Act.

As stewards of the marine and littoral environments, the Navy has an obligation to care for the natural resources on which the world depends. Protecting the environment is a part of mission accomplishmen--it is good citizenship and protects continued naval access into foreign waters. The Navy is committed to protecting human health and the environment while performing its military mission. These obligations come with an impact upon the Navy’s increasingly scarce economic resources. In the coming years, there will be continued discussion over how extensively environmental obligations will shape military activities at sea in view of the military planning, readiness and budgetary constraints. The "openness" of environmental law procedures, such as NEPA, and the military’s need to limit dissemination of sensitive national security information must be harmonized. Restrictions on the use of weapons systems and the operations of ships and other military platforms should strike an appropriate balance.

Freedom of Navigation, Ocean Resources, and the Law of the Sea Convention

Access to the oceans throughout the world, including the areas off foreign coasts at great distances from the United States, is vital to U.S. security and economic interests in global navigation, overflight, and telecommunications. These interests are best served by a globally accepted public order of the oceans that minimizes the challenges to and costs of securing such access. The LOS Convention restrains the growth of excessive maritime claims and codifies key legal provisions in the areas of environment, fisheries, and public vessel sovereign immunity which balance the vital interests of maritime and coastal states.

Free trade requires freedoms of navigation and overflight. The United States also takes an interest in protecting rights of transit for international commercial shipping31 and promoting free trade. The LOS Convention codifies traditional freedoms of navigation and overflight. These freedoms include the right of innocent passage through foreign territorial seas, the exercise of high seas freedoms32 seaward of territorial seas, and rights of transit and archipelagic sea lanes passage through international straits and archipelagic waters. Norms favoring foreign port access, marine scientific research, and specific limits of coastal state authority over the submerged lands and resources adjacent to their shores, are all contained in the LOS Convention.


31During the so-called “War of the Tankers” between Iran and Iraq during 1980 through 1988, neutral merchant shipping sustained tremendous losses. In the 8-year conflict, 543 ships were attacked, most in international waters. Over 200 lives were lost, including 53 Americans. In an effort to contain the effects of that conflict, the United States authorized the reflagging of Kuwaiti tankers and in 1987, commenced with providing those and other vessels military escort as they conducted their transits through the Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf.

32The high seas freedoms of importance to DoD include the transit of ocean spaces, task force maneuvering, exercises, flight operations, surveillance and intelligence collection, communications, and space activities, cable laying, military surveys, and ordnance testing and firing.

A few decades ago, there was a explosion of extended sovereignty claims, as some states acted unilaterally to maximize their offshore jurisdiction. A great contribution of the LOS Convention is that the trend in excessive claims has abated with some states having rolled-back their excessive claims. As more states become parties to the LOS Convention, which entered into force in November 1994, there should be a heightened degree of convergence towards the principles it sets forth. As of January 1998, 123 states are parties to the Convention.33

The position of the Department of Defense on the LOS Convention is clear:

"The Department of Defense has long supported the Convention on national security grounds. The Nation’s security has depended upon our ability to conduct military operations over, under, and on the oceans. We support the Convention because it confirms traditional high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight; it details passage rights through international straits; and it reduces prospects for disagreements with coastal nations during operations."34

Other International Legal Initiatives

While ratification of the LOS Convention is an urgent short term goal of the Executive Branch of the United States Government in the oceans arena, other international initiatives affecting the use and quality of the oceans will require attention early in the coming decade. The establishment of universally accepted rules for oceans governance will provide DoD and the Coast Guard with clear guideposts for the types of design and operational standards which may have to be met in the future. The rules will also be helpful in addressing global problems of environmental degradation and resource depletion which can lead to conflict. Initiatives which are currently under study include:

(a) Seeking universal accession of states to the recently concluded 1994 Agreement relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Species. Universal acceptance of that agreement is important to help protect fish species and because it establishes unique multinational enforcement provisions and is a balanced model for international conservation.

(b) Implementing the Global Action Plan on Marine Pollution from Land-Based Sources. While international efforts to control vessel source pollution have been largely successful, the more pervasive land-based sources have been inadequately addressed.

(c) Obtaining universal accession to the 1996 Protocol to the London "Dumping" Convention. That Convention establishes new safeguards and provides legal clarity on the permissible types of dumping at sea, including the dumping of high and low-level radioactive wastes.


33The United States is still not a party to the LOS Convention. However, the Convention was forwarded to the Senate for advice and consent in the Fall of 1994 and is currently awaiting action by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Furthermore, since 1983, the United States has regarded most of the LOS Convention to represent a codification of customary international law.

34Department of Defense, National Security and the Law of the Sea Convention p.1 (1996)(Quoting from Secretary of Defense William Perry Statement on July 29, 1994).


(d) Obtaining universal participation among flag states of Annex VI of MARPOL. This Annex sets forth new international standards applicable to air emissions from ships.

(e) Working with the IMO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to find acceptable regimes for the safe and secure methods for transporting nuclear materials at sea. Striking an appropriate balance between the competing international interests in this area is important from a nuclear safety and non-proliferation perspective.



Following a joint hearing in January 1996, Congress established a National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) to improve knowledge of the oceans through federal, academic, and industrial partnerships in research and education. Federal coordination is achieved through a National Ocean Research Leadership Council, which includes broad representation from federal agencies with oceans interests and is currently chaired by the Secretary of the Navy. In 1997, twelve partnership projects were funded to establish new coastal laboratories, develop plans for a virtual ocean data center, improve ocean data collection and processing, and expand public and education outreach activities. NOPP’s challenge, in this time of declining budgets, is to seek out and foster the most beneficial projects and partnerships that meet national oceanographic requirements and program goals. In the coming years, there will be continued study on whether NOPP, and programs like it in other agencies, are meeting their objectives.

From time to time, legislative proposals are made to renew operating or differential subsidies for the U.S. merchant fleet engaged in international trade for the purpose of leveling the economic playing field for labor and operating cost, since only 3 percent of U.S. foreign waterborne trade is carried by the U.S. merchant fleet. In the past legislative session, there were proposals to substantially scale-back the "Jones Act," which establishes a preference for U.S. owned and crewed vessels engaged in the coastwise trade. Proposals have also been made to provide subsidies to U.S. shipyards to equalize the labor cost differentials with shipyards overseas, where direct or indirect construction subsidies are routine. U.S. defense spending in U.S. shipyards and for the charter of U.S. flag vessels is expected to decline, and this decreased spending may increase pressure on the Congress and the Executive Branch to address this problem.

The Federal Environmental Task Force (discussed above), which was formed in the mid-1990s, and successor initiatives, have collectively resulted in the transfer of formerly classified environmental data to scientists and others in the civilian sector to help solve global environmental and resource questions. The Navy has offered some further access to classified data if a source for the cost of "sanitizing" data can be found. In the coming years, stakeholders from the government and private sector will have to determine the appropriate level of investment for making defense information with civil applications available to the public.

There is an increasing awareness that marine pollution and decreases in sustainable yields of marine living resources can be one contributing factor to political instability in coastal regions around the world. In the coming years, the United States must assess what the federal government can or should do to help prevent or mitigate these types of problems. A strategy may be needed to avoid costly impacts on the United States in the form of military humanitarian intervention, responses to mass migration, and unprogrammed foreign aid expenditures. The United States must also consider the appropriate role of private and international aid organizations in this overall process.

Finally, striking the correct balance between federal and state environmental laws designed to protect the marine environment with military readiness and operations is an ongoing process and continues to be a challenge.



The nation should continue to fund pure and applied research across the spectrum of ocean sciences to meet future defense needs. An investment in defense science will pay dividends to the civilian sector. A more complete understanding of the ocean environment will enable U.S. military forces in the future to meet their traditional defense missions while at the same time minimizing the impacts of those operations on the marine environment. Science is key to finding ways to sustainably develop and manage ocean resources to meet the needs of an increasing world population. Ocean exploration missions are important to meet defense science needs and advance the nation’s overall position in science and technology. The United States must continue to attract the best and the brightest to America’s shores to study, conduct research, and advance the technology base.

The nation invests heavily in education and training activities to support national security programs. A full spectrum of training facilities is dedicated to training seagoing professionals. These include the Military Service Academies (Naval and Coast Guard Academies), the Merchant Marine Academy, and the Naval Reserve Officer Training Units located at major universities across the country. The Navy and Coast Guard operate a network of schools to provide apprentice level technical training in all fields relating to the operations of ships at sea including: engineering, ships services, nuclear and conventional propulsion systems, combat systems, navigation and operations. Finally, the Naval Postgraduate School, Naval War College, and Naval Medical Research Institute are among the world-class graduate level teaching and research organizations that are responsible for educating military leaders in the United States and abroad. This investment in training is significant, but the payoff is the world’s most highly trained cadre of mariners and marine scientists who serve in both military and civilian positions.

A continuing challenge will be finding ways to reduce the costs of training America’s seagoing professionals and give other interested citizens access to some of the training facilities and opportunities that are available to those in the federal government. The Navy has been building partnerships with private industry, other government agencies, and academia to further the public understanding of oceanography. Some clear examples of success are Project JASON, hosted by the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command and the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, which brings live interactive broadcasts from JASON expeditions to students and teachers in many states. The challenge will be finding more of these opportunities to connect the marine professionals in government with motivated members of the public.



The United States is a maritime nation which owes much of its security and prosperity to its ability to use the seas successfully to enhance commerce and national security. Key to this success has been the preservation of strong maritime forces and sealift. U.S. maritime forces must be able to fight smarter and win, with smart maneuver, smarter weapons, and a reliable stream of remote sensor and tactical environmental data.

Preservation of the comprehensive legal regime set forth in the Law of the Sea Convention is essential to assure freedom of navigation and overflight on the high seas and through straits and other choke points for military and commercial vessels. For over 200 years, the United States has recognized the importance of keeping open the sea lines of communication at sea for commercial and military purposes. National and global security demand that this task continue as a matter of national priority.


DNC Digital Nautical Charts

ESA Endangered Species Act

ESS-21 Environmentally Sound Ships of the 21st century

GPS Global Positioning System

IMO International Maritime Organization

IS&R Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance

LORAN Long-Range Aid to Navigation

LOS Law of the Sea

MARPOL International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships

MIO Maritime Interdiction Operations

NEPA National Environmental Policy Act

NIMA National Imagery and Mapping Agency

NMFS National Marine Fisheries Service

NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NOPP National Oceanographic Partnership Program

ONR Office of Naval Research

SOSUS underwater surveillance system