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The Navy recently made available to the public a multimedia product named Submarine Force: Past, Present, & future. This CD-ROM initially started as a training technology demonstration, but it has evolved to a finished product ready for national distribution. It demonstrates how text, graphics, voice, video and animation (2-D and 3-D) integrated together into a multimedia presentation, help make information easier to assimilate. The lessons learned from this project are used for many computer based training products developed for the Submarine Force.

The Submarine On Board Training (SOBT) office at Submarine Group Two in New London, Connecticut, had some experience with multimedia. After a five year development the Trident submarines were issued a training system, in 1993, that combined two touch screen monitors, a 387 Intel-based computer with a video laser disc player that allowed video and computer software to be integrated into one presentation. Each lesson represented an individual subject area as defined by the enlisted requirements for submarine qualification. This training system quickly became a vital part of both junior officer training and the enlisted submarine qualification program. The system standardized the ship qualification process and kept the sailor engaged in the learning process. The ship qualification period was reduced by 50 percent and the sailors retained the material for longer periods.

Over time, some drawbacks of the system became apparent. Since the system ran on proprietary software and hardware, maintenance of the system became challenging. The dual touch screen distracted from the learning process because the sailor’s hands became fatigued from constantly interacting with the touch screen. The software was not able to run on the standard shipboard computers thus limiting the additional training sites. Since the system was not portable, the sailor could not take the training into his actual work environment.

Concurrently, the SOBT office was exploring the role of multimedia based computer training for the Seawolf class submarines. The Seawolf training program, due to the small number of submarines of this class, is relying heavily on computer based training for use onboard the ships. Based on some of the lessons learned from the Trident Ship Qualification program, the computer-based training programs for Seawolf class submarines are being made with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) authoring tools. The training programs can run on multi-purpose COTS computers as they require no unique computer hardware for digital video playback. Since COTS hardware will be available onboard submarines, using COTS will enable the sailor to train anywhere and anytime. If additional computers are needed, they can be purchased affordably.

The SOBT office became concerned, after listening to many different contractors and reading trade journals, about the future direction of multimedia and about how it would affect computer based training. After much discussion, it was determined that an in-house computer software programmer was needed. The programmer’s role in the SOBT office would be to provide software expertise. After interviewing many people, we contract-ed for Mike Rydene to be our software programmer. While awaiting security clearance approval, Assistant SOBT Director, Lieutenant Tim Allen, assigned Mike Rydene to explore the digital video capabilities of QUEST 4.0, a MSDOS-based authoring language used for multimedia. Mike converted the Submarine Force brochure Around the Clock, Always Ready to multimedia. The initial results of his efforts were impressive.

A few months later, Susie Silverstein of the Navy Museum at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC contacted the SOBT office to find out if we had any computer based material that could be used in their new submarine display scheduled to open in 1995. Our discussion revealed that both of our organizations could benefit from a computer based program on submarines. The Nautilus Museum also showed interest in participating in this project.

The museum project kicked off in the Fall of 1993. It was expanded from the original theme of the Around the Clock, Always Ready to include more history of the Submarine Force and to explain the general concept of how a submarine works. The objective was to educate the public on the many contributions made by the Submarine Force in support of national security and the continual need to build and maintain a robust Submarine Force. The SOBT office agreed to produce the multimedia software and each individual museum would provide the computer hardware to run and display the software. Lieutenant Commander L.B. Bat Barton {Nautilus Museum Executive Officer) and Stephen Finnigan (Curator, Submarine Force Library and Museum) and the Nautilus Museum staff provided historical information and pictures along with aiding in the development of the original idea of the user interface and topical organization.

The museum project’s first milestone was a presentation of the project prototype to the Nautilus Museum Association in April 1994. Because of limitations with the DOS based authoring language QUEST, the project had to be redone with the Microsoft Windows-based authoring language ICONAUTHOR. Based on the experience of this project, we are also using ICON AUTHOR for all other training products under production. Upon viewing the presentation, the Nautilus Museum Association agreed to provide the funding for the computer hardware to display the project in the Nautilus Museum. The project was moving from an idea to reality. The Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Washington and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum (located with the Nauticus Museum) in Norfolk, Virginia also agreed to display the project within the next year.

As the project grew from a training technology demonstration to being hosted in different museums, COMSUBLANT’s Public Affairs Officer, Lieutenant Commander Greg Smith joined the project team. The first public display of Submarine Force: Past. Present & Future was at the Nautilus Museum on September 30, 1994. Observing public interaction with the display enabled SOBT to study how this medium could be used to better convey information. The display appealed to all age groups. People requested information on how they could obtain a copy of the program.

Two demonstrations were arranged in November 1994 for CHINFO, Rear Admiral Pease, and the Naval Submarine League Board of Directors. The goal of these demonstrations was to decide if there was an interest in making this program available to the public on CD-ROM. After these demonstrations, the decision was made to put this project on a CD-ROM.

In December 1994, work began on the revision of the Submarine Force: Past. Present & Future program to be delivered on CD-ROM. The user interface was totally overhauled from the original and the topical organization was re-engineered. The information was reformatted into five modules to allow easier access to the information. They are: Submarine History, How Subs Work, Modern Day Submarines, Submarine Roles, and Building a Submarine. Every screen was tailored to have a narration and much more 3-D animation (Beth Morriaty was brought in to assist). Heidi Rydene (Mike’s wife), who narrated the original text, continued her role as the narrator. Having a female narrator proved invaluable since many sound speakers on computers attenuate the male voice resulting in poorer sound quality. As new text was written, Lieutenant Commander Greg Smith edited it to ensure concert with Submarine Force goals.

Submarine Force: Past. Present & Future CD-ROM premiered in April 1995 as part of the Naval Submarine League exhibit at the Navy League’s Sea, Air and Space Exposition. It is available free to any member of the Naval Submarine League. The Submarine Force is using this product to help express to the public and to government decision makers the importance of a robust Submarine Force. Recently at the Commander in Chief (CINC) conference, each CINC was given a copy by Rear Admiral Pease. Additionally, a copy has been provided to each group, squadron and submarine commanding officer. Submariners aboard Task Groups are using this product to help educate personnel on the importance of submarines. In the future, many more museums will also be displaying this product to help present that importance to the public. The marketing and distribution of the Submarine Force: Past, Present & Future CD-ROM is still evolving. As the Submarine Force has done in the past, we continue to lead the way on technology applications for the future.

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