Skip to comments.Course correction in carriers’ future
Posted on 05/23/2010 6:05:56 PM PDT by ErnstStavroBlofeld
On the bridge of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, theres a 20-year-old quartermaster with a No. 2 pencil, a compass and a big map unfurled on a table.
In one of the ironies of Americas modern Navy, that map and that quartermaster are the official method of navigation for the $4 billion carrier and the 5,000 souls on board.
Even as the Navy installs the most high-tech equipment on its carriers including the San Diego-based Carl Vinson, which recently returned to the fleet after a four-year overhaul none of the nations 11 flattops is certified to rely on electronic navigation.
So if the United States put a man on the moon in 1969, why is it still using pencils on the bridges of nuclear-powered ships?
Because the Navy, like an aircraft carrier, doesnt change direction quickly.
Its only been 10 to 12 years ago that we started down this road, transitioning from a paper Navy for navigation to a paperless Navy for navigation, said Cmdr. Ashley Evans, deputy navigator for the Navy in Washington, D.C.
The Navy is poised to radically change the way it has sailed since the days of wooden ships. This summer, Navy leaders are expected to issue an order that allows skippers to stop maintaining up-to-date paper charts what sailors call maps on board.
Four of the Navys carriers possess the electronics to navigate by computer; the rest are set to receive the gear by 2013.
It takes about a year to become certified for operating the equipment, and none of the Navys carrier crews has done so yet. But some destroyers and cruisers currently sail with the computer readout as the primary guide.
(Excerpt) Read more at signonsandiego.com ...
I won’t name the boat, but I was on a carrier where they lost power to the whole island for a while. We received a request (on the sound powered phone system) to send a hand held gps to the bridge so they could maintain a plot.
Actually, I am kind of relieved that the navy isn’t dependent on computers that can be hacked, attacked or blown up and on fire when they are needed.
Of course, they’ll still keep the charts up to date so it will be double work. No captain would risk dropping the load with no back up.
They can buy a firewall from McAfee
Tangential NAVAIR ping...
'Maps' get looked at: 'charts' get written on. Very old distinction.
Gee, you can get a nice cheap GPS at Best Buy for next to nothing.
Just ask the pirates the Ruskies let go if they wished they had studied celestial/solar navigation a little harder.
“True Virgins Make Dull Company At Weddings”
...or, more appropriate for this forum,
“Can Dead Men Vote Twice At Elections”
All I need is a fast ship and a star to steer her by.....
Actually, I am kind of relieved that the navy isnt dependent on computers that can be hacked, attacked or blown up and on fire when they are needed.
Ah yes... the Battlestar Galactica syndrome ... :-)
Damned right. It’s a war machine not a New England @SSHat’s yacht. That 20 year old with a CHART is the last line between us and slavery.
That sounds fascinatingly unbelievable, LOL!
Been watching Battlestar Galactica lately?
This reminds me of the behind-the-scenes tour I took at NASA a couple years ago. (The “VIP” tour for $80 or so is some of the best money you’ll ever spend.) In mission control, I noticed that one of the big wall screens had what looked like a DOS command shell up in one corner. I asked what it was for and found out that in today’s space shuttles, commands are entered into the main computer in HEX. Same software that was in use during the Apollo era is in use today. HEX. I kid you not.
MM (in TX)
How many folks on any vessels (military or commercial) at sea today know how to get a 3 star fix (with 2 mile accuracy) using a sextant, chronometer, and tables?
Our submarines depend on inertial navigation by computer, however there are supposed to be people in the conn that monitor modern charts, particularly undersea mountain charts. This did not happen with the USS San Francisco, which hit a previously uncharted (either on computer or in real new charts) undersea volcanic mountain several hundred miles from Guam. They hit it at 500 feet depth at what was said to be flank speed (making a speed run), killed one sailor and even still the sub survived the crushing blow which buckled the keel. Amazing. The captain was relieved of command. There has to be BOTH charts and satellite for a carrier, and everyone should know how to navigate the old fashioned way, by shooting the sun or by stars and compass. It can be done. Too much at risk with our positioning satellites.
Backup, surely. But it does work when all else fails.
They best keep those maps handy, as well as well trained Quater Masters. It’s fine to use the new stuff but it quits from time to time.
Some kind of electronic interaction with the chart (as in e-paper) would be handy. The computer can double check the course mapping and update it or mark warnings on it in real time. I hope a well evolved human interface is not lost in the interest of the latest gee-whiz gimcracks.
The Navigation team on EVERY Navy ship, it is still a required skill for the quartermasters
Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)
LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)
Experienced this on a private charter plane in Caribbean. The pilot totally depended on his GPS avionics. He could not fly dead reckoning or a compass. This should be like spelling- you have to know the word to know what to answer spellcheck with.... maybe that’s too much to ask. But the basics are still taught at Annapolis.
I think they still teach Midshipmen at Annapolis how to navigate using a hand-held sextant, and I hope they never stop no matter how many GPS units the Navy buys....
Just how long does anyone expect GPS to be up and running during a war? Of course all the ships have GPS! Don’t be naive, they would be stupid not to. But they do not depend on GPS.
Quartermasters still must know how to use their brains and do things the old fashioned way. That means dead reckoning, sextants, chronometers, etc. That the writer even thinks this is slightly odd just goes to show basic difference in civilian and military mentalities.
Satellites can be spoofed. Radar can be jammed. LORAN is GONE. But the wet-ware computer between the sailor’s ears will still function as long as it is backed up with training and the good old fashioned Mark 1 Eyeball.
Exactly...It’s called dead reckoning and every seaman knows it.
With HEX, there is no disputing who is to blame. There is no (t much anyway) abstraction.
Click on pic for past Navair pings.
Post or FReepmail me if you wish to be enlisted in or discharged from the Navair Pinglist.
The only requirement for inclusion in the Navair Pinglist is an interest in Naval Aviation.
This is a medium to low volume pinglist.
If your electronics quit for what ever reason, you will have to rely upon the old way. Learn traditional navigation and read your Bowditch!!
Nope, primary. I was so surprised by this that I asked specifically if this was some backup system. Nope, primary computer. And BTW, it still requires big old rack-mounted memory modules. I forget what the capacity was of each module but it was something absurdly low. When I asked why they'd still be using such antiquated systems, he said, "It works and it's one of the most solid pieces of software ever built."
Speaking of LORAN, I have four Micrologics that I brought back from the dead. They are now used as bookends.
When cruising to and from the Bahamas, I still DR every 30 minutes.
If anyone has seen marine navigational software they would realize just how grossly undercapable that software is. You know that software your bank uses, or online reservations use, or that crappy DMV software, well, they were all writen by the same type of programmers with the same type of managers.
Next time your phone has a dial tone, be thankful.
Because some things just work. Navigating an aircraft carrier from somebody's iPod, for all the computational capability of the thing, is just stoopid. It goes down and where are you...?
I've spent a good part of my career designing the bleeding edge. I've also spent a good part of my life depending on critical stuff a bit further behind, letting someone else take the arrows.
No contradiction here; some folks need the bleeding edge. I haven't.
“How many folks on any vessels (military or commercial) at sea today know how to get a 3 star fix (with 2 mile accuracy) using a sextant, chronometer, and tables?”
This argument re GPS vs. “charts-and-darts” applies to the field artillery as well.
I’ve never known anyone who calls a navigational chart a “map”.
A proper sailor who navigates the oceans had better be able to take star-shots for dead reckoning. It may be one of the only choices he has in an emergency black-out.
One of the major flaws that bite people, here on the Great Lakes, is a over-reliance on GPS. They punch in a destination, hit go-to, and never consult a chart, which would show the rocky shoals that lie directly between them, and the destination, lakeside bar.
The ship I served on still had a quaint blow-pipe, a ships telegraph, a brass binnacle (complete w/navigators’ nuts), and a very large wooden wheel. No GPS. We were hi-tech with Loran, Radar, an intermitant Gyro, and charts.
The Captain was a crusty old Aussie (40), who would drink us young-uns under the the table, and then could circum-navigate us across the oceans with nary a care.
They even got rid of Mr. Hand, the guy that used to move side numbers around the CCA pattern for Case III ops.
. . . don't blame me, blame Spike Milligan (may he rest in peace.)
I heard about some non-navigating idiot in the Atlantic Race for Cruisers who accidentally programmed BOTH his GPSs at 700 kts instead of 7. Several days into the race he radio'd at large in a panic because the GPS said he was in the Sea of Japan somewhere.