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National Plan to Achieve Maritime Domain Awareness

NSPD 41/HSPD 13 Main >> Supporting Plans >> Maritime Domain Awareness

The National Plan to Achieve Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) (PDF, 33 pages - 472 KB) is one of eight plans developed in support of the National Strategy for Maritime Security, as directed by National Security Presidential Directive-41/Homeland Security Presidential Directive-13.

Identifying Threats as Early and Distant from Our Shores as Possible

This plan outlines the national priorities for achieving maritime domain awareness, drawing on the insights and expertise of a range of federal agencies and departments that came together to create this plan. It includes near-term and long-term objectives, required program and resource implications, and recommendations for organizational or policy changes.

  • Maritime domain awareness is the effective understanding of anything associated with the global maritime domain that could impact the United States’ security, safety, economy, or environment.  A range of federal departments and agencies will need to coordinate closely to identify threats as early and as distant from our shores as possible. By unifying U.S. government efforts and supporting international efforts, this Plan will help achieve maritime domain awareness across the federal government, with the private sector and civil authorities within the U.S., and with our allies and partners around the world.

  • MDA is a key component of an active, layered, maritime defense-in-depth. Maritime domain awareness will be achieved by improving our ability to collect, fuse, analyze, display, and disseminate actionable information and intelligence to operational commanders and decision makers.

  • We must reorient and integrate relevant Cold War Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) legacy systems and operational concepts with current and emerging sensor capabilities and applicable procedures. These capabilities must be fused in a common operating picture that is available to maritime operational commanders and accessible as appropriate throughout the U.S. government.

  • The common operating picture is shared by U.S. federal, state, and local agencies with maritime interests and responsibilities.  This dynamic, scalable, common operating picture will provide the appropriate types and level of information to the various agencies in a near-real time, customizable, network-centric virtual information grid.


To make it easier to implement this Plan, efforts to enhance capabilities or processes are grouped into three general priority areas and associated actions.

  • Information and standards. The Plan recommends setting standards and enhancing how information is collected and shared.

  • Technology. The Plan recommends using technology to improve maritime C4ISR capabilities, as well as to enhance information collection and maximize its use. Actions include using or enhancing sensors, platforms, and communications equipment.

  • Organizations and personnel. Recommendations include building coalitions and partnerships, increasing human intelligence collection (in addition to technology-based intelligence collection and information gathering), developing global maritime communities of interest, and establishing integrated, national-level maritime command centers for maritime operational threat response.

Next Steps

The Departments of Homeland Security and Defense will lead an interagency implementation team to oversee the Plan’s rollout. This implementation team will be responsible for several key tasks, including:

  • Provide a forum for interagency coordination of each MDA implementation action and task identified in the Plan.

  • Develop a concept of operations that will, at a minimum: detail interagency coordination; develop shared situational awareness through a national maritime common operating picture; support the Maritime Operational Threat Response Plan; and be consistent with the Global Maritime Intelligence Integration Plan.

  • Propose a coherent, integrated interagency investment strategy.

Last Published Date: June 29, 2012
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