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Use of shore-based high frequency (HF) radar systems for environmental monitoring have become widespread in many countries around the world. In the U.S. various regions, such as the west and northeast coasts, have been instrumented. In California alone, some 50 radar stations contribute to the realtime monitoring of surface currents as part of the state's Coastal Ocean Currents Monitoring Program (COCMP). As recent events in the Gulf of Mexico highlight, environmental security can often hinge upon maintaining comprehensive monitoring systems that are in place and contributing to modeling and response systems at the time of any incident. Beyond real-time surface current maps, low-cost HF radar systems have the potential to contribute to offshore vessel tracking out to ranges of 180 km from the shoreline. Instrument networks that contribute multi-use functionality, such as HF radar networks, provide for effective and efficient long-term installations.