The Navy's aircraft carriers program office is using a new, high-tech approach to train Sailors on USS Gerald R. Ford's (CVN 78) advanced, first-of-class systems -- right on the waterfront.
The Carrier-Advanced Reconfigurable Training System (C-ARTS), in operation since December 2018, is currently housed pierside in a customized mobile training facility. C-ARTS can be quickly reconfigured to deliver the desired training, blending traditional classroom training, virtual reality, augmented reality and "mixed reality" training, followed by hands-on training on board the ship.
"The Ford class is built with some of the most technically advanced systems ever installed and requires a robust training program to support them," said Rear Adm. Brian Antonio, program executive officer for Aircraft Carriers. "Our team realized early-on the need to quickly bring exceptional training to our Ford Sailors, but also in a way that would be aligned to the Navy's Sailor 2025 training concepts."
The first 11 Gerald R. Ford Sailors to use C-ARTS trained as fiber optic cable repair technicians. Ford is the first carrier in the fleet outfitted with over five miles of fiber, so the course allowed Sailors the opportunity to gain new skill sets on this advanced shipboard technology.
"C-ARTS is definitely a great way for Sailors to learn; it's convenient that it's located close to the ship and it helps better us for the ship," said Electrician's Mate 2nd Class (AW/SW) Logan Baron, who was among the first group trained. "When we go back to the ship, I know that we will be more knowledgeable about fiber optics and can help better the ship by working to fix any problems that might occur."
Subsequent C-ARTS training groups have covered high-voltage electrical safety and air conditioning maintenance. An additional 72 crew members are scheduled to attend six C-ARTS courses by the end of March 2019.
"Approximately 104 different courses are currently being modified or developed to be delivered within the C-ARTS delivery methodology, incorporating over 1,500 contact hours of training," said Capt. Ron Rutan, program manager for the CVN 78-Class Program Office (PMS 378). "Training content supports future demand signal changes as the learning process matures."
Although two C-ARTS trainers are currently located pierside at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia, while Gerald R. Ford undergoes a post-shakedown maintenance availability, by summer 2019 the trainers will be moved to a semi-permanent C-ARTS training site located 1,200 feet from the ship's pier at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.
PEO Aircraft Carriers is responsible for the development and delivery of cost-effective, ready, relevant training covering a wide range of new and technologically-advanced systems to thousands of Sailors and support personnel over the next decade, and C-ARTS will allow 21st-century Sailors to train on Ford's 21st-century technology.
"Traditionally, Sailors are required to travel to the location where the training is being conducted. Funding this type of approach, which includes training facility updates and maintenance, as well as the personnel required to run the facility, are becoming too expensive, said Antonio. "Cost and schedule factors are increasingly prohibitive for the Sailors, as well. Logistical costs such as travel, lodging and meals, coupled with costs associated with increased time away from work and decreased productivity, impact the mission. And the challenge that traditional training poses to Sailors' work/life balance cannot be ignored."
PMS 378 has worked closely with the Office of Naval Research to bring this new technology to enhance Ford-class training. As C-ARTS continues to deliver tangible benefits to carrier Sailors, there may be opportunities to leverage this technology throughout the Navy in the future.
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