A General Overview of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)

Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) is a very important part of United States’ maritime law enforcement campaign pertaining to strengthening marine security – both internally as well as internationally. The Maritime Domain Awareness is a very wide and encompassing subject and therefore merits a special mention while maritime security of nations is taken into account.

The main motto and the objective of the Maritime Domain Awareness is to collect the maximum information and intelligence about any ship or vessel in the country’s waters. With the collected data, a complete inference can be drawn about all those marine areas that could cause potential damage with respect to safety, eco-system and the economic system. This process is known as ‘actionable intelligence.’

Through actionable intelligence, it becomes possible for the rightful authorities to ensure proper maritime law enforcement. Additionally along with this aspect, the MDA also deals extensively in matters pertaining to anti-piracy methods, smuggling of drugs through the marine channels and other unlawful activities that could be carried out through marine transportation.

The US Coast Guard collaborates with the navy to ensure that proper Maritime Domain Awareness is achieved. Maritime law enforcement requires serious overhauling because of the way terrorism and other unlawful activities are being carried out in recent times. Through MDA, it has become possible for a big and mighty nation like the United States to ensure that its marine borders are not infiltrated and that any potential risk is removed right at the start.

Marine Domain Awareness involves collectively using technological aid to help better maritime law enforcement. Some of the technological devices that are utilised as a part of the Maritime Domain Awareness can be mentioned as follows:

  • Automatic Identification System (AIS)
  • Long range radars
  • Long range unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)


In addition to these existing technological aids, there are several others that feature in the pipeline to ensure a wider bracket of maritime law enforcement. Some of these proposed gadgets can be named as follows:

  • Technology that will enable verification and confirmation of ships and passengers before the same embark from ports abroad
  • Smart-boxes: These boxes have sensors that in-built which will help the authorities to screen about any weapons and other unlawful objects being carried into the ship

Presently the major challenge to the MDA is that proper synchronisation and combination of the information thus gathered is collated appropriately, so that it can be viable to numerous countries across the world. These countries play a vital role because in their absence of due to their lack of proactive participation, an effective Maritime Domain Awareness cannot be achieved.

Such challenges are being met and many more steps are being thought out to make sure that Maritime Domain Awareness becomes a more than substantial effecter of maritime law enforcement. This will potentially enable more countries to create such a security enforcement campaign in the coming years for their marine areas.


You may also like to read-The Importance of Port Security



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