Research Areas

Coastal Radar Detection and Satellite Tracking of Ships

Harbor Acoustic Monitoring Systems

Electro-optics Surveillance

Decision Support Systems

Layered Maritime Domain Awareness

System Resilience

Maritime Security-centric Education and Training

About Us

National Center for Island, Maritime & Extreme Environment Security (CIMES) 
1680 East-West Rd.
POST 105
Honolulu, HI  96822-2327
Tel:  808-956-6396

National Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce (CSR)
Stevens Institute of Technology
The Babbio Center, 6th Floor
1 Castle Point on Hudson
Hoboken, NJ  07030
Tel:  201-216-8575

MIREES fact sheet


Dr. Margo Edwards, Director CIMES, University of Hawaii

Dr. Julie Pullen, Director CSR, Stevens Institute of Technology

Project Search

Center for Maritime, Island and Remote and Extreme Environment Security

The Center for Maritime, Island and Remote and Extreme Environment Security (MIREES), led by the University of Hawaii in Honolulu for maritime and island security and Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. for port security, will strengthen maritime domain awareness and safeguard populations and properties unique to U.S. islands, ports, and remote and extreme environments.

Center Activity

Project Spotlights

Stevens Passive Acoustics Detection System (SPADES)
SPADES enables detection and classifcation of underwater and surface threats to ports and high value assets. Developed with grants from the DHS Science & Technology Directorate and the Ofice of Naval Research, it has been tested in various ports and Navy harbors in the United States and internationally. SPADES received a patent award in 2012.


Port Mapper Tool
Port Mapper is a web-based visualization and decision support tool designed to aid maritime stakeholders in the event of U.S. port closures and disruptions. Port Mapper helps stakeholders develop response and resiliency plans in the event of port and supply chain disruptions and allows end users to conduct scenario-based analysis on the implications and repercussions of disruptions and closures of U.S. ports. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) used Port Mapper to determine which U.S. ports could handle cargo containers and their commodities from those ports that were impacted by Sandy.

Unmanned Port Security Vessel (UPSV)
The UPSV provides a rapid inspection capability in port environments, integrating multiple sensors such as high-resolution bathymetry sonars and chemical sensors as well as remote command and control for real-time operation and supervision. The UPSV supports multiple missions including inspection of infrastructure above and below the water line, response and recovery of port operations, and underwater change detection and threat assessment for piers, pilings and harbor seafloor. The vessel is deployable by helicopter allowing for rapid response time to disasters or threats within hours. Likely end users include USCG, harbor masters and commercial port operators.

HF Radar Real-Time Vessel Detection and Ocean Current Mapping
MIREES researchers are developing algorithms to use High Frequency (HF) Radar signals to improve real-time vessel detection. HF Radar systems show significant promise toward increasing detection rates in multi-vessel environments. Recent experiments in the New York/ New Jersey harbor showed that MIREES’s HF Radar system and enhanced algorithms found that one out of three vessels were not appearing in the Automatic Identifiction System. In addition, since 2009, the USCG has been using MIREES’s HF Radar surface current data in their search and rescue missions.

Remote Power Module (RPM)
The RPM is an autonomous power and communications system that enables collection of Automatic Identification System (AIS) and ocean surface current data in remote locations. This fully automated, hybrid power station for arctic and sub-arctic maritime environments can power radar and communications systems in remote areas along the Alaskan coast, which provides a needed capability improvement for the USCG.

Current Projects

Project 1:  Acoustic Monitoring of Underwater and Surface Vessels
CSR Research PI: Alexander Sutin, Stevens Institute of Technology
Project Description:
  The acoustic part of the CSR research is aimed at the investigation of applying passive acoustic methods to surface and underwater threat detection, classification and tracking in coastal zones.  Acoustics is the only tool that provides detection of underwater threats and Stevens work has concentrated on passive acoustic methods that are much simpler and cheaper than conventional sonar techniques mainly applied for underwater threat detection. These studies have resulted in improved understanding of the signatures – and the underlying physics responsible for the signatures – for a variety of surface and underwater threats. Using this understanding, Stevens researchers have developed unique passive acoustic sensing technology that has promise to provide near real-time, detection, characterization, and tracking capabilities in nearshore, harbor and inland waterway environments.
All vessels underway produce broadband and discrete noise that is a combination of hydrodynamic noise and noise generated by the ship’s crew and the operation of onboard machinery. The low-frequency underwater acoustic output generated by surface ships is a significant contributor to background ambient noise in the open sea and in littoral regions, near harbors and shipping lanes. With minimal acoustic attenuation at low frequencies, ship acoustic footprints extend over tens to hundreds of kilometers.

Project 2:  Decision Support Systems
CSR Research PI: Jeff Nickerson, Stevens Institute of Technology
Project Description: Domestic shipping and waterside facilities are subject to numerous surface and underwater threats. Any size vessel, from a large container ship to a small boat, has the ability to act as a delivery vehicle for illicit materials and harmful activities. This necessitates the ability to integrate sensor information from many different sensors with the goal of providing accurate situation awareness.
The goal of this research is to understand how users process and identify the information available from the various sensors that are currently in place, with the intention of maximizing the utility of an interface. Specifically, this research seeks to make use of crowd experiments to identify which visualizations of data are effective in the identification and classification of vessels.
What types of visualizations or methods of information integration are best for rapidly conveying both key output data from Coast Guard’s SAROPS, and weather or environmental data streams? For example, should novel risk calculations that incorporate the calculations for the probability of detection and probability of success be available as additional, optional information layers?” In the end, these findings will help address more general questions regarding information integration, fusion, and visualization such as, “Do additional sources of information help? Does the manner in which the information is displayed matter? If so, what forms of display result in better decision making?” Along the way, we will continue to address the following question, “Can experiments performed on participants in a more general demographic be used to predict the responses of those who are, or who have been, involved in Coast Guard operational decision making?”

Project 3: Development of a Dual-use Surface Current Mapping and Vessel Detection Capability for SeaSonde Multi-static High Frequency Radar Networks
CSR Research PI: Scott Glenn, Rutgers University
Project Description: The NOAA-led U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) has designed, is constructing, and has recently begun operating the more advanced portions of, a National HF Radar network focused on the real-time mapping of surface currents.  The primary users of the resulting surface current maps are the U.S. Coast Guard for Search And Rescue (SAR) and the NOAA HAZMAT team for ocean spill-response. The IOOS Mid-Atlantic Region’s CODAR SeaSonde HF Radar Network, operated by Rutgers University, is the first region in the U.S. to achieve operational status by constructing and operating the end-to-end system that produces and links validated real-time surface current maps to the Coast Guard’s Search And Rescue Optimal Planning System (SAROPS).
Rutgers and CODAR Ocean Sensors, an academic-industry partnership established in 1997, have worked together for over a decade to expand the capabilities of compact CODAR HF Radars to include the dual-use application of detecting and tracking ships without compromising the network’s ability to map surface currents. Development prior to the establishment of CSR focused on the demonstration and evaluation of a non-real-time end-to-end system for dual-use vessel tracking in the New York Bight multi-frequency HF Radar testbed.  Software demonstrations determined (a) that vessels could be detected, (b) that the detections could be associated with a known ship, and (c) that the associated detections could then be input to a range of tracking algorithms whose output produced tracks and predicted trajectories on a computer screen, providing useful over-the-horizon information to operators not available through any other source.  Radar hardware development focused on developing network flexibility beyond monostatic backscatter operations, demonstrating (a) that bistatic and multi-static operations were possible with a shore based network, and (b) that buoy-based bistatic transmitters can be operated at all three of the commonly used HF Radar frequencies (5-6 MHz, 12-13 MHz, 24-25 MHz).  The pre-CSR research demonstrated that the rate-limiting step in the development of a robust vessel tracking capability for any HF radar was going to be development of the initial vessel detection algorithm. This conclusion focused the initial CSR step in dual-use HF Radar development on the mathematical problem of identifying and extracting the radar return of a surface vessel hidden within a highly variable and noisy background, requiring additional detection algorithm development, testing and sensitivity analysis in a variety of environments with different noise characteristics. 

CSR HF Radar research, coordinated between Rutgers University, CODAR Ocean Sensors, and the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, is currently focused on improving the vessel detection algorithm.  Vessel tracking testbeds have been constructed in the urbanized mid-latitude environment of New York Bight, and in the tropical environment of Puerto Rico.  Each test bed consists of, at a minimum, multiple HF radar systems operating in multi-static mode and shore based AIS transceivers to provide unencumbered access to validation data. In collaboration with CIMES, Rutgers, CODAR and University of Alaska have established an Arctic testbed in Barrow, Alaska.

Project 4:  MTS Resiliency: Ports
CSR Research PI: Jim Rice, MIT

Project Description: PORT MAPPER provides end-users with the capability to visualize port locations and to conduct real-time and scenario based disruption analysis. Port Mapper is comprised of two formats, a web-based visualization app (pictured above) and a spreadsheet database tool. Developed by CSR researchers Jim Rice and Kai Trepte of MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (CTL), Port Mapper allows end-users to look up every U.S. port or cargo type by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code and identify options for redistribution of cargo in the event of port failures. Port Mapper is a decision support tool designed to assist maritime stakeholders as they develop response and resilience plans in the event of U.S. port closures and disruptions. The tool assists in answering the following questions: Where could cargo move to if a specific U.S. port was closed? What other ports handle the same cargo types as the disrupted port? What is the distance between the ports?

Utilized by U.S. Coast Guard senior leadership during Hurricane Sandy and the week-long closure of the Port of NY/NJ, Port Mapper enabled the USCG to visualize the redirection of cargo to alternative port locations.

Project 5: Satellite Radar Applications in the Coastal and Maritime Domain 
CSR Research PI:  Hans Graber, University of Miami                                                                 
Project Description:  The University of Miami’s Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing (CSTARS) leads the space-base applications and is developing new understanding and new processes for receiving and analyzing large maritime area data from multi-satellite and multi-frequency sensors such as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and electro-optical (EO) sensors.  Algorithms continue to be developed to employ the data to detect vessels, including small ships, in harbors, inland waterways, the coastal ocean and the high seas. Algorithms are also being developed to integrate this vessel detection information with ground-based systems such as Automatic Identification System (AIS).

Large-area, satellite-based surveillance is an essential capability in the development of Maritime Domain Awareness, particularly in ship detection, classification and identification. The goal of this aspect of the CSR effort involves detecting vessels, including small ships, in the coastal ocean and high seas or when approaching and leaving ports, sensitive coastal regions and denied access regions. When combined with existing vessel monitoring systems (e.g., AIS, expanding shore-based and harbor surveillance systems and an emerging space-based AIS system, this capability will provide the tools that the DHS can employ in ensuring global  Maritime Domain Awareness, Marine Transportation System Security, and Maritime Enforcement.
Using CSTARS’ capability to collect satellite image data on a global scale from multi-satellite and multi-frequency sensors such as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and electro-optical (EO) satellites, will allow in an operational sense to monitor the entire global oceans.  SAR satellites can operate day and night and in all weather conditions and thus allow surveillance of ports and choke points in different ocean basins, as well as monitoring vessel traffic inbound and outbound of ports and harbors. The recently launched satellite SARs have spotlight modes that provide spatial resolutions comparable to high-resolution optical sensors. Since the end of last year we also added a new optical satellite sensor, EROS-B, with high-resolution panchromatic images at 70 cm resolution.

Student Opportunities at MIREES
DHS CDG Maritime Systems Master's Degree Fellowships.  Stevens Institute of Technology as been awarded three consecutive DHS Career Development Grant awards to provide a total of nine full-time Master's Degree Fellowships in Maritime Systems with a Graduate Certificate in Maritime Security.  Fellowships provide for full tuition support and a monthly stipend for high-achieving U.S. citizens, interested in advance academic study and careers in the maritime/homeland security domain.

Program: The objective of the fellowship program is to enhance the knowledge base, technical skills, and leadership capabilities of our nation's future maritime security workforce and to provide greater access and support for U.S. students pursuing a homeland security focused Master's Degree in Maritime Systems. This fellowship program will create enhanced experiential opportunities and direct pathways for highly skilled students to obtain technical leadership positions in the maritime security domain.

CSR Summer Research Institute:  The Summer Research Institute (SRI) provides undergraduate and graduate students a unique opportunity to participate in an intensive eight-week research program designed to tackle critical issues in maritime domain awareness, emergency response, and maritime system resilience, to enhance our nation's maritime security.

This highly-collaborative, hands-on summer research program emphasizes critical thinking and multidisciplinary research to generate innovative ideas and solutions to address complex maritime security issues.  

Since the program’s inception in 2010, 88 high-achieving engineering and science students from around the nation have participated in the summer research program. SRI student participants have produced high quality research outcomes and the development of new tools and technologies that have had direct impact to end-users and stakeholders. 

SRI student research projects have included:
SRI 2014 Student Research Projects:

  • Acoustic Vessel Signature Analysis for Automated Vessel Classification
  • Magello Emergency Response Tool: End-user Test and Evaluation
  • Maritime Incident Scenario Development and LNG Safety and Security
  • Technology Integration and Synergies: Radar, Optics and AIS

SRI 2013 Student Research Projects:

  • CBP Trade Facilitation Case Study
  • Detection Technology Synergies
  • HF Radar Data Integration

The SRI is held annually from June - July, on-campus at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ.

Technology Transition

The center's E2E efforts focus on the development of a fully integrated MDA sensor suite linked to decision-support systems used by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Navy.  We are implementing our layered technology in two sites: NY/NJ harbor and the Caribbean, and also demonstrating the portability of our approach by participating in relevant exercises.  The MDA sensor feeds include passive acoustics, HF radar and satellite.

Applications for this technology include vessel tracking and illicit vessel and underwater threat detection, classification and tracking.  Coast Guard MDA will be significantly improved by the layered technology, whose sophistication exceeds the MDA assets currently available.  CBP will have increased intelligence on localization of possible illicit vessels so that they can optimize the deployment of airborne assets. The impact of these technologies is already becoming manifest. Real-time multi-static vessel detections are now being generated in the segment of the HF Radar network surrounding New York Harbor and are now being delivered to the Navy’s Open Mongoose data fusion engine for MDA.  Current satellite work has demonstrated skills in detecting go-fast and other small vessels in the Caribbean Basin.  Real-time Hudson River underwater acoustics data has created high interest in Coast Guard Sector NY, and was successfully fed into a command center in a demonstration for illicit vessel detection near the U.S. border.  In the Caribbean it is anticipated that illicit vessel detection will be improved by the flow of acoustic data.

Academic Research Partners
Stevens Institute of Technology ( CSR Lead University)                                                                     University of Hawaii-Manoa (CIMES Lead University)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Monmouth University
Rutgers University
University of Alaska – Fairbanks
University of Miami
University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez


Industry and Government Partners
Mattingley Group
Nansen Environmental Remote Sensing Center
Pacific Basin Development Council
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

MIREES Resources:

Each month the CSR and CIMES sister research center's share their activities and accomplishments in the form of a newsletter. Please see below to review an archive of the Center's monthly newsletters and learn about the center's research, field-based activities, stakeholder partnerships, and student achievements.   Contact Beth Austin DeFares, CSR, to subscribe to the center newsletter.                        

2015 CSR Newsletters
CSR Newsletter - February 2015
CSR Newsletter - January 2015

2014 CSR/CIMES Newsletters
CSR Newsletter - December 2014 
CSR Newsletter - November 2014
CSR/CIMES Newsletter - May 2014