1980s as a result of the increased illegal traffic of narcotics and migrants
in the Caribbean, the Coast Guard established the Mobile Aerostat Program.
It consisted of two shore-based units located in Key West and Miami,
Florida. The units were comprised of two teams per vessel (total of five)
which alternately deployed aboard Sea Based Aerostat (SBA) Platforms.
Aerostats were unmanned lighter-than-air aircraft which mounted
sophisticated radar and other surveillance equipment. The MAP mission was to
provide continuous air and surface surveillance for other law enforcement
units working in the same geographic area of responsibility. SBAs normally
worked in conjunction with high and medium endurance cutters and patrol boat
class vessels. Successful operations were conducted with other U. S. and
foreign naval forces. From 1984 to the program's decommissioning on 31 March
1992, the Aerostats provided target information resulting in numerous drug
seizures and illegal alien interdictions.