Maritime National Security Specialist
Maritime National Security Specialist


Heather Kelly joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in 2021 as a national security specialist following a 22-year career in the U.S Coast Guard.

She is currently involved in international maritime border security training development and delivery in support of the Department of State’s Export Control and Border Security program, in addition to supporting maritime border security technology applications. She is also providing environmental analysis project management support to the Department of Defense.

In her Coast Guard career, she specialized in response operations with an emphasis in domestic and international maritime law enforcement operations and policy, international and domestic search and rescue (including leading the response to the fire on board and complete evacuation of the ferry Caribbean Fantasy), and pollution response (including the barge Davy Crockett response and management of the decontamination program for thousands of vessels involved in the Deepwater Horizon response). She spent most of her last seven years in the Coast Guard focusing on counter-drug/illicit smuggling policy, international agreements, and interagency and international operations in the Eastern Caribbean, Eastern Pacific theater, and domestically along the maritime Southwest border.

Prior to that, she specialized in waterways management working in or supervising large vessel traffic service operations centers (including the Port of New York and New Jersey and the only Cooperative Vessel Traffic Service in existence, between the United States and Canada), marine event permitting, and interagency coordination for projects and events occurring in busy waterways. She was asked to serve in the Marine Transportation System Recovery Unit in response to Hurricane Sandy. Kelly also spent time developing environmental regulations for the Coast Guard, as well as updates to Annex V of International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78, Annex V). In all these efforts, she has enjoyed—and continues to enjoy—bringing teams together to solve unique and challenging problems.


MS and PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park