The fine art of navigation, seamanship, and shiphandling demands that the nuances of ship movement in all conditions be properly addressed. A new-generation simulation system featuring lifelike visuals and a standard database is bringing realism to training ashore and afloat.
The U.S. Navy has entered a new era of Navigation, Seamanship and Shiphandling (NSS) training and the beneficiaries are navigation teams across the Navy, such as the one on board the USS Donald Cook (DDG-75), the training program's inaugural installation. In the search for the optimal solution, the Navy is introducing a family of systems featuring a state-of-the-art bridge simulator, expert training services, and a small footprint shipboard variant. As a result, this training goes to the Sailor instead of the Sailor to the training.
U.S. Navy navigation teams have benefited from invaluable navigation, seamanship and shiphaiidling training in both major Fleet concentration areas, San Diego and Norfolk, for the past decade. The Navy recognized the value of simulation to improve NSS skills, and is convinced that the return on investment of moving to the next generation high-fidelity simulators will be realized with the avoidance of one ship collision or grounding.
To improve training efficiency and effectiveness and reduce training costs, the Navy launched a program to update its current training systems with state-of-the art bridge simulators. These systems will provide high fidelity, user-friendly navigation training in all Fleet concentration areas and on board warships. Based on requirements defined in the Navigation. Seamanship and Shiphandling Training Requirements document (NSS TRD), approved in 2003, Naval Surface Forces implemented a two-pronged approach to modernize the training.
In September 2005, after bidding competition, the Navy awarded the navigation trainer contract to Kongsberg Maritime Simulation. An extensive system evaluation was condueted to ensure the system would meet all Fleet requirements. The process began in 2003, with the procurement of shore-based systems for naval bases in Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan, and the United States Naval Academy. Shipboard systems were also purchased, installed, and evaluated. The lessons learned and Fleet feedback provided the basis for the training system's final functional requirement and configuration.
The second part of the training modernization strategy is to acquire the expertise of a quality NSS training services organization, with experienced and qualified mariners to provide instruction. The goal is to train Navy tactical shiphandling and-where applicable-navigation, seamanship, and shiphandling to a level "equivalent to" the International Maritime Organization Standards for Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping. A solicitation for these services was announced in August 2006.
The NSST family of systems shares common software, so models react identically and training exercises can be shared among ships and shore sites using the same development tools. New instructor-monitored and self-study exercises can be developed by simulator instructors at any of the Fleet concentration sites or onboard any ship and transferred to any other navigation, seamanship and shiphandling training system. This reduces the requirement for additional trained exercise developers. Commonality of visual/radar area database files and ship hydrodynamic models eliminates any differences in simulation fidelity between the shipboard and shore-based systems. This family of training systems includes the full-mission bridge shore-based trainer (v2), th full-mission bridge wing trainer (BWS), and the smaller footprint shipboard application (v1).
These systems can be networked to expand the number of ship bridge teams that can interact in the same exercise, or the number of individuals and teams that can be monitored and controlled by a single instructor at the shore-based sites in each Fleet area.
The v2 system consists of a large-scale pilothouse mock-up with seven projectors providing an out-of-thewindow view on a 240Â° curved projection screen (or, in situations where space is at a premium, plasma screens). The mock-up emulates the bridge of a Navy ship and includes a centerline pelorus, a ship's control console with throttles and wheel, a radar/Advanced Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA) console, an Electronic Chart Display and Information System-Navy (ECDIS-N) console, and a chart table. The key emphasis is full immersion by the student and navigation/bridge team into the virtual environment to obtain a high fidelity mission rehearsal capability.
The Bridge Wing Simulator (BWS) includes a mockup with five projectors providing over-the-rail visuals on a 220" curved screen. This simulator has a bridge wing pelorus. and a radar/ARPA console, both of which rotate to simulate port or starboard operation. The simulator is designed to train personnel in those shiphandling evolutions routinely conducted from a bridge wing, such as underway replenishment and mooring to a pier. While both the v2 and BWS simulators are generic to address a majority of Naval Sea Systems Command's ship requirements, they can easily he modified to incorporate a full-fidelity replica for a given ship class.
The v1 system is a PC-based, small-footprint trainer being installed on board Navy ships and at each Fleet concentration area. It focuses on individual proficiency training and can he run by the student and used with or without instructor support. The system provides radar/ARPA, ship control, and scene displays along with a steering and throttle console and a voice command module. In addition to NSS training, it will be invaluable for dry runs of sea and anchor details, particularly in those situations where the crew is unfamiliar with a foreign port or passage.
The v1 system includes an embedded tutoring program called e-Coach. This is designed for self-study and proficiency training by providing instant feedback with corrective action prompts, and student performance evaluation. e-Coach contains a library of exercises of varying degrees of complexity to address all experience levels and includes a student evaluation system. Individual performance can be compared to previous exercise results in addition to providing an assessment against predetermined criteria. Various debriefing tools such as exercise replay, charts, and graphs supplement instructor feedback and/or individual or team self-assessment.
Additional features include visual simulations, radar/ ARPA, ECDIS-N, out-the-window scenes, and real-life environmental conditions including time of day, wind, sea state, tide/tidal stream, fog, and rain. The system incorporates hydrodynamic ship models that simulate ship movement within six degrees of freedom and support single-ship and ship-to-ship interactions in a variety of scenarios including open-ocean navigation, underway replenishment, mooring, anchoring, and flight operations. Robust scenario development is a key feature of the system that allows great flexibility in meeting all (ruining objectives. Scenarios are easily developed, customizable exercises that can be made on-the-fly to simulate any exercise parameter such as environmental conditions, ship, and geographic models. These training vignettes can be developed to meet a commanding officer's requirement to evaluate his/her officers across a broad spectrum of skills from navigation to standard commands to shiphandling and tactical maneuvering. A full range of equipment faults, both electronic and mechanical, can be simulated for casualty-control training.
Involving a cross-section of the Navy has proven to he a key ingredient to the success of the NSS training modernization initiative. For example, the Naval Academy evaluated several ship simulator systems and types from multiple commercial providers. The conclusion resulted in the Academy investing in the Kongsberg Maritime Simulator system, and the lessons learned there have been incorporated into the modernization effort.
The Naval Academy has used the Kongsberg simulators exclusively for more than one year in the Naval Surface Warfare Practicum and Navigation course. During this time, they performed flawlessly without interruption to student training. With the addition of the ship simulators, instructors are able to fill the gap between theory and application by creating an interactive environment where midshipmen actively participate in scenario-based training that demonstrates rather than just explains navigation skills.
"This is a significant step forward in making training more realistic." said Rear Admiral (Select) Jim McManamon at a recent demonstration of the v2 at the Academy. He added:
The nuances of ship movement, the environment, and all the clues we use-seaman's eye-to handle a ship are all much better incorporated in the trainer. . . . In general. I have personally found the shiphandling trainers to be a significant and much appreciated simulation to improve ship-handling performance. It gives junior officers-and the commanding officer-an ability to gel the feel of close-in maneuvering without the risk of damaging our ships.
Multiple NSST In Progress Reviews have been held with extensive Fleet participation. The reviews have provided the Fleet an opportunity for early hands-on experience and resulted in valuable feedback. This experience prompted Captain Faris Farwell. Commodore. Afloat Training Group. Pacific Force Surface Ships, to state:
Like many of our other vital maritime readiness primacy skills, it really all comes down to three things: did you recognize the maneuvering situation you were in: did you take the appropriate correct action required: and were you able to communicate your intent or actions appropriately? It is in these three key elements that critical safe shiphandling and risk avoidance skills will he learned and re-learned. There is no guarantee that any simulator will prevent future collisions or groundings, hut this is the most proactive pmgrum we have ever fielded to assure success on every watch! The feature I like best as a former CO afloat is the ability of NSST to model exactly sea and environmental conditions that a ship will experience so that the conning officer or bridge team can, in effect, conduct the entire night harbor transit from start to finish in a simulator condition before conducting the actual transit! Additionally, the "compliance with the CO's Standing Orders and Rules of the Road" evaluation features would make any CO afloat ecstatic! All in all, NSST will be a great asset toward improving and sustaining key perishable shiphandling skills!
Within the next year the Navy will achieve its goal of expanding shore-based NSS training to seven Fleet concentration areas including Everett, Washington; Mayport, Florida; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan: San Diego, California; and Norfolk, Virginia. Each area will have at least one v1 and v2. San Diego and Norfolk will each have one v1, two v2s, and a BWS system. Seventeen additional shipboard installations were scheduled for Fiscal Year 2006, and 100-plus installations are planned through Fiscal Year 2013.
The new NSS Trainer with state-of-arl visuals, hardware, and software combined with a more cost-effective multi-site instruction capability, will allow the Navy to dramatically increase the quality and quantity of navigation, seamanship, and shiphandling training available to the Fleet.
Captain Shannon serves as Future Comhat Systems Open Architecture (PEO IWS 7.0). He has commanded two guided-missile frigates and has extensive experience in the Second, Third, Fifth, and Seventh Fleets. Commander Johnson is the assistant chief of staff for Training and Readiness. Commander Naval Surface Forces. He commanded the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60) and has considerable experience in training and personnel fields. His operational tours include both Pacific and Atlantic cruisers and destroyers. Ms. Thomas-Rizzo, the NSST Project Lead for PEO IWS, is an acquisition professional and has an extensive background in the procurement of modeling and simulation based training systems.