Unfortunately, we are all well aware of the recent deadly attack on the USS Cole. Would the crew have had a warning if the ship had been coated with a substance, containing sensors, and programmed to detect explosives? We will never know the answer to this question but it is certain that in the future, this opportunity will be available. Sensors imbedded in an ocean going vessel would pinpoint, in the case of a disaster, the exact location. These sensors would not be limited to government or industrial vessels but also to private vessels.
Sensors could detect illegal dumping of toxic materials, as well as give quicker warnings of chemicals released during shipping collisions. In the future we will have nanobots (nano robots,) carried on all sea going vessels carrying toxic cargo. In the event of a major spill, like the Exxon Valdez, spills can be detected immediately, and nanobots released to start the clean up and reduced if not eliminate the collateral damage caused by these spills.