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NEWS | Oct. 21, 2019

Navy ’20-something’ Civilians Develop Power Solution for Electric Weapons Aboard Warships

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications

DAHLGREN, Va. – Bridgett Burg’s deployment aboard USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) began with one question: how can the Navy manage and supply power aboard warships integrated with electrical systems and directed energy weapons?

Burg was among six Navy junior engineers and scientists who interacted with Sailors over the course of seven days last spring to see how the ship’s power was monitored, distributed, and controlled at sea.

Along the way, they sought answers to one follow-on question after another: how much power is available aboard ships with directed energy weapons? How much power will be required? What can done to resolve power gaps for electric weapons?

The 20-something government civilians studied operations throughout the ship – including the Combat Information Center, engineering, and the bridge – to find answers while developing a system they called PERSEUS that lays the groundwork for solving power management in the future Navy.  

"Electric weapons are the future for the Navy," said Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Chief Technology Officer Kate Jones, who oversees the command's Sly Fox Program. "The ability to dynamically allocate power where it's needed and when will be a cornerstone to success for electric weapons. The partnership between NSWC Dahlgren Division and NSWC Philadelphia Division, coupled with developing our scientists and engineers, is critical to realizing this vision."

The Sly Fox Mission 26 team members – including one who could not deploy on the Carter Hall – presented a final brief on PERSEUS to NSWCDD leadership, Sept. 26.

“My first impression of Sly Fox 26 and PERSEUS was the impressive work that young engineers can do in six months to add value to the Fleet,” said Cmdr. Jon Page, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) deputy ship design manager, who witnessed a Sly Fox Mission 26 briefing and demonstration at Dahlgren Sept. 20. “They presented the value both in design for people like me at NAVSEA and the value to the Fleet for being able to monitor loads. Having some young engineers coming through that in six months was overly impressive to me today.”

Fleet Sailors consider the current capabilities of PERSEUS valuable because the system can analyze the present power energy usage of a ship through near real-time power consumption monitoring. Measured power usage data is recorded in a database for future research by exportation.

“It was really an invaluable experience to take advice and feedback directly from warfighters and then implement it into the PERSEUS design,” Burg recounted after her team demonstrated the system five times to distinguished visitors, including military officials, at NSWCDD on Sept. 19-20. “My favorite part of the mission was interfacing with Fleet personnel and making PERSEUS a conversation about what would help them the most in relation to our mission objective.”

In order to make PERSEUS a conversation with Sailors, the Sly Fox Mission 26 team – all NSWCDD employees – studied shipboard life and operations in the Carter Hall’s Combat Information Center, engineering, and the bridge. 

While at sea, they deployed aboard a Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicle from the Carter Hall – an amphibious ship that bring a unique capability to quickly and efficiently bring gear and supplies ashore in response to a crisis or natural disaster. They witnessed operations from man overboard drills to the ship’s reception of Landing Craft Utility boats used to transport equipment and troops.

Meanwhile, their observations and conversations with Sailors provided insight the team applied to develop a new capability via PERSEUS to solve the integration of high-powered electric weapon systems and electric propulsion systems.

“As a mission, our goal was to create an integrated prototype of PEGASUS embedded within the PERSEUS product to provide awareness of current and projected power states,” said Burg. “As a team, our goal was to create a foundational prototype that future efforts can pick and pull from depending on objectives.”

Earlier this year, the previous Sly Fox Team – Mission 25 – in collaboration with subject matter experts from NSWC Philadelphia Division, developed and demonstrated the potential of PEGASUS (Power and Energy Generation Simulation System) to integrate electric weapons and electric propulsion systems aboard Navy ships. 

PEGASUS is a high fidelity, platform-agnostic computer model for analyzing the power needs of any given configuration. The PEGASUS model has the ability to implement multiple different electric weapon system modules, as well as complex mission profiles, including firing frequency, duration, power, ship’s propulsion, ship’s hotel, and power generation systems.

PERSEUS offers a variety of features from past, present, and projected use cases with multiple applications such as an aid in routine system maintenance and the ability to project power needs of future engagement scenarios.

While aboard the Carter Hall, the ship’s tactical action officers and fire controlmen gave the Sly Fox Mission 26 team insight as far as what they would expect a system like PERSEUS to look like.

“Their insight included what information to display and even their likes and dislikes of current system interfaces deployed to the Fleet,” said Burg. “Once Fleet personnel approved of the design, we had a final opinion brought to us by a human systems integration technical warrant holder at Dahlgren.”

Sly Fox Mission 26 developed PERSEUS as part of the most recent effort in a line of projects solving the integration of high-powered electric weapon systems and electric propulsion systems.

At the September demonstrations, the Mission 26 team discussed the Navy's previous efforts to integrate ship service power with electric propulsion aboard DDG 1000 - lead ship of the Zumwalt-class destroyers, a class of next-generation multi-mission surface combatants.

“Mission 26 was very unique due to the fact that we are the first mission to carry on the efforts of a previous mission (Mission 25 – PEGASUS),” said Michael Joram, NSWCDD scientist. “This had its own set of challenges that we had to overcome, but it also provided us with additional support. This unique bond between our missions allowed us to achieve many goals and ensure our success.”

Future implementation of PERSEUS and PEGASUS involves specific shipboard applications of the agnostic models from both the perspectives of electric weapons systems at NSWCDD and generator and propulsion systems at NSWC Philadelphia Division.

“Mission 26 has been a great opportunity for me to grow both personally and professionally,” said Dominque James, NSWCDD system engineer. “Working with six other individuals with similar educational backgrounds, yet different areas of expertise proved to be a challenge. We all came in with the intent of making this spectacular system that we would showcase at the end of six months.”

The Sly Fox Mission 26 team, however, soon realized that they would not be able to accomplish all they envisioned due to the schedule and scope of the project.

“The decision making process of what would and would not be implemented is often were we struggled but in the end we overcame this through compromise,” said James. “I am glad we experienced every trial because the triumph was much greater.”

The NSWCDD Sly Fox Program provides a significant opportunity for young professionals to experience solving real-world technical issues while designing and integrating complex hardware and software technologies. Since 2002, the Sly Fox workforce development initiative has been enhancing and growing leadership and technical skills in junior scientists and engineers. The program creates an environment that fosters teaming across the command as well as other Navy organizations and helps participants develop a useful Fleet perspective on the needs of the warfighter. The continuing goal of Sly Fox at Dahlgren is to build and strengthen the NSWCDD workforce, resulting in robust capabilities, flexible and deep resources, and rewarding technical opportunities.