Named after a character portrayed by Bill Cosby, it's a 175-ft long white aerostat known locally as "Fat Albert" for its plump doughboy shape when viewed from below as it sits at an altitude of thousands feet tethered by a cable. The aerostat is loaded with sophisticated electronic equipment that's used to monitor boat and aircraft traffic in the Florida Strait and north. Homeland Security is using it to detect incoming fast boats and low-flying aircraft suspected of carrying drugs into the United States. 

Fat Albert has been operated and maintained by the U.S. military. Other than its mission above, I would assume there are other things going on about which we'll never learn, nor have the need to know. In about 2000, I was coming back from a tarpon hunt (notice the omission of fishing) and we noticed a gaggle of people on the shore of Cudjoe Key, to which Fat Albert is tethered. There was a large Boston Whaler on the beach and it was surrounded by weapon-toting military-looking guys. My friend Dan, who runs a charter business out of Sugarloaf Key, shrugged his shoulders and said the government takes any "invasion" seriously. A week or so later he called and told me the poor slobs surrounded with menacing firepower ran out of gas on the way home and wind pushed them to Cudjoe. Hope they got some fish anyway. We didn't.

Copy and paste "fat albert" ~aerostat into Google's search engine for loads of information, pictures, and all that good stuff! Enjoy.