This bill — the Commercial Engagement Through Ocean Technology Act of 2018 (CENOTE) Act of 2018 — would generally codify existing practices concerning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s acquisition and use of unmanned maritime systems (UMS), also known as drones.
The bill would require the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere to carry out a program to coordinate the NOAA’s assessment and acquisition of UMS. It’d also require that the NOAA: 1) regularly assess publicly and commercially available UMS; 2) make the data it collects using UMS publicly available; 3) centralize its acquisition of UMS; and 4) coordinate its efforts with the U.S. Navy.
To facilitate its coordination with the Navy, the NOAA would be required to convene a coordinating committee comprising of representatives from the Navy, NOAA’s Offices of Atmospheric Research (OAR), NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO), NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration, NOAA’s Office of the Integrated Ocean Observing System, and other NOAA offices involved with UMS usage. The coordinating committee would be responsible for:
Ensuring NOAA is informed and aligned with the Navy’s strategic, research, and operational priorities;
Making Naval UMS testing and training facilities available to NOAA;
Mutual provisions for best practices for UMS operations and training centers as well as UMS testing, research, and acquisitions;
The consideration of shared UMS or provision of decommissioned UMS; and
Collaboration and knowledge-sharing on topics relevant to UMS (e.g. oceanic mapping, bathymetry, and ocean exploration).
The bill would also grant the Coordinating Committee and the Navy the authority to partner with over federal agencies, private industries, and academic institutions interested in the research, development, workforce-training, commercialization, and acquisition of UMS.
Within a year of this bill’s passage and every four years thereafter, NOAA would be required to submit a report to Congress detailing its current UMS inventory, data collected by UMS, and the resulting benefits.