The Heritage Foundation Homeland Security 2020: The Future of Defending the Homeland” conference begins today with a focus on maritime security. This morning’s panel will be looking into two very important topics: the very broad topic of government policy for defending domestic waters, and the more specific topic of the very serious material condition of the Coast Guard today.

Did you know that of the 12 major cutters assigned to Haiti relief operations, 10 of the cutters (87 percent) suffered mission-altering breakdowns? Were you aware that in the early hours following the explosion on Deepwater Horizon that 3 Coast Guard aircraft were unable to respond due to maintenance problems? When someone talks about climate change, are you armed with the intellectual firepower to debate this topic with facts as it relates to United States Arctic policy? Did you know that as of today, August 23, 2010, the United States government has zero operational heavy icebreakers even though Alaska has more than 1000 miles of coastline on the Arctic Ocean? Did you know that the average age of the Coast Guard cutter fleet is 41 years old? Did you know that 30 percent of the cocaine smuggled into the United States from Columbia in 2009 was done with simi-submersibles by sea? Are you aware that drug cartels are building full-blown submarines in the deep inland swamp areas of South America to use off the American coast? Want to know more?

This is a small sample of the many challenges in providing domestic maritime security and protecting our maritime boundaries discussed on my blog Information Dissemination, where I also intend to provide additional updates regarding the recommendations of the panelists during today’s Heritage Foundation event “Homeland Security 2020: The Future of Defending the Homeland.”

Raymond Pritchett is the founder and author of Information Dissemination.

The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.