Imagine yourself-riding with the commissioning crew in USS VIRGINIA (SSN 774), on her first trip to the Caribbean, sometime in the fall, for sound trials of the first ship in this new class. So here you are, the ship at 400 feet, not much happening now that Virginia Capes are far behind, and you have the opportunity to see how things are done in this new ship. Naturally, you begin in Control – startling for its openness now that the periscopes no longer dominate, and for the large screen displays that give you an overview only observed in surface ships before. Can this really be a submarine? The ship control station directly ahead of you-it’s in the traditional place, but seems to be about half the size, and missing most of the old layouts you knew so well. Now, looking a bit longer, you realize that it has everything needed for steering, diving, ballast control, alarms, and so on. Yet the controls all seem so accessible and you notice how easily the pilot controls the ship. Remarkable.
So you step over to a display that has the traditional sonar patterns on it. Soon, you find the Sonar Technician (ST) has something different to look at, and in explaining what he’s doing, you learn a little about the new Lightweight Wide-Aperture Array (L WW AA). Then he shows you how he could get pictures from the periscope right on his display surface, too, and even recalls a couple of images from a database that show the trip past the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to prove the point. This is really different.
Continuing through the ship, you notice another man at a sonar-type display, and find that he is an off-duty ST who is going through some training sequences to keep up his proficiency. He tells you that he’s not tied in to the tactical system at present, but is using NTDPS-the Non-Tactical Data Processing System. After he shows you what he’ll be working on, you continue your walk through the ship.
Digital Library (Search/Retrleva~
– Training Program Managerrent
– Digital Status Boards (ICAS fed)
– Work FICM’ Processes
– Automated links to operating/casualy procedures
– M edla Management
– Evolution Tracking
– Ship Home Pages (wffiexible-assignabie portlets)
(Frequently used procedures.J\l\latch Bills.fQuick Links)
– Watch Standing
– Rig Tracking and Reporting
– Rig for Dive
– Passdown Logs
As you stop by the storekeeper’s office, you find that he is getting an order together for transmission this afternoon. This means that a few critical items will be ready when the ship returns to Norfolk on Friday. In the same office the cooks are checking quantities they’ll need for tomorrow’s meals. NTDPS again.
Browsing around the ship some more, you find yourself talking to a Machinist’s Mate (weapons) reviewing hoist operation on a laptop in the torpedo room. When asked, he says that the Chief told him to review the tube loading procedure before this afternoon’s practice. Hence, more use of the training features of NTDPS, which he says also contains the technical manuals for troubleshooting.
Lunch time, and you pick up your food from the galley. While at chow you find that the crewman you’re eating with has been taking a look at his personnel and training status, having down-loaded that information before you submerged. He will be off to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in December, where his next ship, USS PROVIDENCE (SSN 719) is in overhaul. He’ll be checking on the training he needs, and planning out how he’ll get it done WITHOUT EVER LEAVING THE BOAT. Yes -NTDPS again.
NTDPS is a computer application that is designed to allow a submarine to operate with limited hard copy stowage, and give the crew computer access for personal as well as official use. The application runs a number of programs on a collection of computers connected via a Local Area Network (LAN), and they’re able to communicate via the same LAN to exchange information if needed. What are the gains? Storage space; availability; instant access; rapid documentation updates (remember change pages?); an e-mail capability; and training that’s done without the need for a crewman to travel for temporary additional duty to be trained at a Navy school.
The time has come to take the technology that’s available in so many American homes and make it available to our men and women that are bearing the nation’s defensive burden. So, we’re putting it in all 30 of the new Virginia Class ships, and it will be backfit to the rest of the Submarine Force as part of the SUBLAN installations.
NTDPS – A System Whose Time Has Come
The Virginia Class NTDPS is a secure computer system that streamlines and automates many of the non-tactical functions on board, providing a high level of connectivity and information sharing that will improve crew efficiency and accuracy. This LAN-based hardware and software system was created with VIRGINIA in mind, and it leverages Navy, DoD and commercial sources.
VIRGINIA is the first class of submarines specifically designed for limited hard copy storage. We’ve long wanted to do this, and now we’re getting there. Nearly all the key functions of data recording and storage have been digitized, allowing greater efficiencies throughout the ship, and making better use of the intelligence of the crew.
A few key system concepts:
4. It’s network-based, interconnection is easy, and it has a large remote storage;
5. It’s designed to allow access to all essential information
- Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMs)
- Operating procedures
- Rig reporting and tracking
- Damage control reporting
- Other watch standing functions
6. It’s accessible from all non-propulsion electronics system (NPES) consoles, on laptops at each watch station, and on mobile computers supporting various shipboard duties;
7. It has nearly eliminated the need for stowage of paper manuals and procedures;
8. It streamlines distribution and access to all information
9. It also provides for training, qualifications, and exams
10. It accommodates configurable home pages for departments, divisions, and other groups.
This increase in computerization and automation will transform how the crew conducts daily operational readiness. While it functions entirely within the boundaries of the ship, it interfaces with the shore via the Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet).
NTDPS, Task Force “Excel” and the “Revolution in Navy Training”
The next NTDPS application build that will be delivered later this year introduces an Integrated Learning Environment, a key element of Task Force “Excel” and the “Revolution in Navy Training” to the Submarine Force. As a result of that work, the Navy has EXTENSIVELY revised its entire training approach, tailoring it to the individual’s needs and accomplishments, and streamlining our training methods. Termed the Five Vector Model (or 5VM), it bases its approach on the concept that there are 5 areas in which each individual develops during a Navy career. These include:
- Personal development
- Professional development
- Certifications and Qualifications
In support of this approach, the Navy has opened the website “Navy Knowledge Online” or NKO [https://wwwa.nko.navy.mil]. This site places a wealth of information at the fingertips of the interested and the motivated Navy sailor, from personnel records to recommended advancement planning to training qualifications, and to the training courses themselves. Naturally, there is a large amount of training information serving as the basis for this system, and it gets updated electronically to keep abreast of our ever-changing Navy.
The Integrated Leaming Environment (ILE) will include a Leaming Management System (LMS) and a Learning Content Management System (LCMS), supported by Navy Knowledge Online-Afloat, the Navy Training & Management Planning System (NTMPS), and the Technical Data Knowledge Management (TDKM) that are provided via the Navy Distance Support Portal.
The ILE is Extensive
To realize the vision of providing the right training at the right time, including at sea, NTDPS is developing an afloat ILE in conjunction with the Submarine Non-Tactical Application Delivery Interface System (SNADIS) project and the efforts of the Submarine Learning Center (SLC) in Groton, CT. As part of the Navy’s Shore ILE Infrastructure, the Submarine Leaning Center is implementing the ILE transformation strategy and architecture. It is also assisting in the Naval Personnel Development Command’s effort to standardize and integrate the requirements, systems, and network architectures to support our sailor, ashore and at sea.
Formerly independent programs (e.g., Navy E Leaning, CANTRAC) and multiple system interfaces (e.g., Electronic Training Jacket) will be managed as a single, integrated capability as part of the Navy Training Management and Planning System (NTMPS). The ILE, accessed through NKO, will house the Technical Data Repository (TOR), the LMS, the LCMS, and the Navy’s Data Warehouse. The Navy ILE contains three major components: Leaming Management, Content Development and Management, and the Knowledge Management portal. For the afloat ILE, the LCMS is the software application that is most critical. Much of the other shore based functionality does not need to be brought onboard, allowing the physical footprint of the shipboard system to be accommodated within the Virginia Class boats and the Space and Naval Warfare Command’s (SPAWAR’s) Submarine Local Area Network (SubLAN).
The LCMS is a Web-based application that allows learning centers to easily develop online educational content that can be presented in a structured, yet adaptable, learning environment. It will allow the sharing and re-use of learning objects, dramatically improving the quality of learning material. These systems are designed to enable subject matter experts, with little technology expertise, to rapidly design, create, deliver, and measure the results of e-leaning courses. The LCMS application in the ILE is fundamental to its ability to deliver e-leaning content to individual learners without bearing a prohibitive cost or manpower burden. Moreover, the LCMS provides the functionality for direct measurement and reporting of the results of e-learning performance, which enables greater accountability for learners, a direct link to performance, and subsequent links to operational readiness.
Knowledge Management and the Integrated Shipboard Learning Environment (ISLE)
The current Knowledge Management training program exists for the purpose of scheduling all types of training events, tracking the program, assessing accomplishment, and reporting results. This system revolves around the development and manipulation of general training goals, which are linked to specific lectures, seminars, drills, evolution, exams, and other training techniques, plus subordinate goals with their own items. The system permits a training group manager to plan a training program for his group by accessing the ship’s schedule, higher- level goals, plans, and directives, and identified weaknesses including prior exam and drill results. A secondary function is collecting and tracking the details of lectures and seminars in an auditable system.
Under the current plans for the Integrated Shipboard Learning Environment (ISLE), training will start when an individual receives orders to the ship. All pertinent personnel and training records will be made available to the ship, and all training and personnel information will be transmitted to and from the ship via the SIPR Net. The ISLE provides automation tools that establish individual training records and assist training managers in the development of orientation, qualification, and formal training plans that comply with established qualification requirements and are tailored to tire needs of the ship and i11divid11al. Immediate Seniors in Command (ISICs) (or other relevant commands) will have the ability to conduct orientation programs to support the needs of deployed units or to realize economies of scale by conducting single training sessions attended by individuals from multiple ships.
Under the design requirements of the new ISLE functionality in NTDPS, the following concepts will be supported:
- Notification of individuals with training/learning responsibilities (leader, monitor, etc.) will occur via onboard e-mail. Training/learning authors and leaders will be able to readily search for guidance, content, and identified weaknesses associated with the assigned topic based on past performance, such as examination grades or drill comments.
- Available content has already been developed by various Navy Learning Centers, and Navy technical documentation has been provided by the Systems Commands. Advance reading, pre-examinations, or pertinent Computer Based Training (CBT) can be readily assigned and completion monitored by training/learning leaders.
- Suitable examinations can be easily developed, and examina-tions can be administered and graded on line. Assessments of learning effectiveness will be made using analysis of both monitor critiques and examination results.
- CBT courses and modules will be readily available and easily employed to support onboard qualification and continuing training programs. All CBT and Distance Leaming courses that support an individual’s improvement along a 5VM vector will be stored in the onboard library and periodically synchronized while deployed, or will be available to crew members via the SIPRNet or the Non-secure Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNet).
- Training can be constructed via LCMS tools that can promptly and effectively respond to emergent or ad hoc requirements for training individuals, groups, and the entire command. Examples of such responsive training requirements include corrective maintenance, change of operational tasking, inspection results, Force-wide safety stand-downs, and succession training. Automated analysis will be available to identify training shortfalls relative to those required to support the ad hoc requirements.
- Planning and execution of off-hull training will be fully supported and highly integrated with the shore ILE. Quotas for desired schools will be easily obtained via the SIPRNet or NIPRNet. Planning and management for personnel left ashore will be fully supported by the ISLE and the shore ILE. Records of off-hull training will be kept by the shore ILE and delivered to the ship via the SIPRNet or NIPRNet when adequate connec-tivity is available.
- Commands will be notified of pending personnel losses along with indication of the receipt or non-receipt of orders for replacements. The most suitable available replacements from on board and ashore will be identified. Training gaps will be identified and managed based on the skills of individuals involved.
- Fully interactive access to 5VM will be available to individuals on board via the SIPRNet or NIPRNet when in port. A crewmember’s 5VM information will be available when at sea. Changes to 5VM information occurring at sea will be queued for synchronization when adequate SIPRNet or N lPRN et connectivity is available.
- Significant libraries of training conte nt will be maintained on board. Items held will be tailored to the needs of specific platforms and crews, and will be changed as those needs change. Non-standard items will be easily ordered and received via SIPRNet or NIPRNet.
- A robust authoring capability will be available to shipboard users including easy incorporation of CBT and multimedia. Existing content related to an authoring effort will be authorita-tive and will be easily identified and located. Training content will be more unifonn and will enable more consistent learning delivery from command to command. Locally-authored updates and improvements will be reviewed by subject matter experts for inclusion in the authoritative content database.
Program Plans and Future Capabilities
Growth in hard copy stowage and limited available space has made NTDPS functionality a necessity, but the integration and assimilation of many standalone applications has enabled an environment where Shipboard Knowledge Management can increase warfighting capability and provide more proficient and efficient watch standers. This will allow faster access to current information, more effectively managed training, and automation of administrative workflow processes. The NTDPS/SNADIS applica-tion model provides all of these functions.
Integrated Shipboard Network System (ISNS)
In an attempt to coordinate and minimize Navy lifecycle support costs, an effort is underway to have the NTDPS software be provided as part of SPAW AR ‘s ISNS program to deliver a SPAW AR-supported network to all ships. This will be accom-plished in the Submarine Force by the fielding of 11 SubLAN 1 configurations in Los Angeles Class ships in the late FY 04 to early FY 05 timeframe. The NTDPS software is currently installed at the VIRGINIA, TEXAS and HAWAII Pre-Commissioning Units (PCUs) and will be included in all Virginia Class submarines.
We are already seeing the benefits of NTDPS in information access and watch stander capabilities. NTDPS hardware is based on mature Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) products, which provide a robust, high performance LAN. Software development is based on a COTS system baseline with thoroughly tested functions. With future LAN connectivity among squadrons and potentially battle groups, these improvements can have tremendous impact. Proving this system works will stimulate the process of other existing or developmental applications in joining the NTDPS umbrella, and will enhance the migration of NTDPS to additional platforms.
Significance Of Submarine Knowledge Management
With submarine installations already planned, this project could be extended to interface with other shipboard programs such as LPD 17 and CVN 21 that will move NTDPS towards the Navy’s vision of a fully integrated Information Technology/Knowledge Management system. NTDPS will ease each individual’s workload for training, learning preparation, and administration.
Efficient use of these technologies will ease workloads and improve quality. For example, NTDPS will promote increased automation of work routines, such as log taking and evaluation of information, and condition-based maintenance becomes possible since technical data is more easily interpreted and manageable.
NTDPS is opening up exciting possibilities for more efficient and better-trained people, and we are confident that it will become the model for similar future programs.