Coast Guard awards contracts

WASHINGTON -- The Coast Guard on Tuesday awarded a $17 billion contract to two defense contractors for new ships, aircraft and communications equipment to help guard U.S. shores against a terrorist attack.

The contract was awarded to Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The Coast Guard will buy deep-water ships, airplanes, helicopters and unmanned surveillance aircraft; upgrade some existing ships and aircraft; and buy sophisticated communications and surveillance equipment.

The new fleet and the equipment will allow the Coast Guard to stop ships away from the U.S. coastline; run lists of crew members and cargo shipments through intelligence databases; and check for biological, chemical or radiological materials.