Magazine article National Defense

Maritime Test Center off to Rolling Start

Magazine article National Defense

Maritime Test Center off to Rolling Start

Article excerpt

The freshly opened Maritime Domain Awareness Center (MDAC), established to support the Coast Guards Deepwater transformation program, is already moving ahead and processing upgrades for three ships a month, according to officials who run the test facility.

By the time of its ribbon cutting at the end of April, the MDAC had already been at work for six months, testing systems and software prior to installation in newly built or retrofit ships. The USCG Cutter Matagorda was upgraded with a command-and-control system and put to sea in early March.

The largest recapitalization program in U.S. Coast Guard history requires a large, high-tech test center to ensure the interoperability and quality control of electronic systems involved. The Deepwater contract was awarded to Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a joint venture between Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

"One of the hardest things to do is go to the shipyard and test systems for the first time. It really saves a lot of money to work out bugs in the labs rather than in the yard," said Patrick Ewing, Lockheed's senior program manager. "When you get to the yard, you want to be on a higher level of system testing. …

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