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U.S. Navy’s HACKtheMACHINE Seattle Encourages Innovation In Maritime Dominance

By NAVSEA Naval Systems Engineering Directorate Public Affairs | Sept. 26, 2018

SEATTLE – Naval Sea Systems Command hosted HACKtheMACHINE, the Navy’s digital experience for building a community of practice in maritime security Sept. 21-23.

Over 500 hackers from around the country attended the event where they competed, learned and engaged in solving problems that span the Navy’s challenges across maritime cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and development operations. Attendees included Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, James F. Geurts, Navy leaders, engineers, Sailors and scientists with community partners, entrepreneurs, students and technologists.

The three tracks of the event focused on “Maritime Capture the Flag,” “Data Science and the Seven Seas,” and “Hack for the Oceans.” Competitors built cross-disciplinary teams that bridged the Navy, academia and industry to develop innovative approaches to complex problems. Each of the three tracks was sponsored by a Navy major program manager who took insights from the crowd and turned them into relevant military outcomes.

Until this century, a country’s sea power depended on its industrial capacity. The nation with the greatest number and most technologically advanced ships controlled the sea and everything that moved over and under it,” said the Navy’s Chief Engineer and HACKtheMACHINE event lead, Rear Adm. Lorin Selby. “Now, decision-making is driven by digital systems, and mastery of industrial processes that led to the U.S. Navy’s preeminence are less relevant. I am accelerating a digital engineering journey to bring the very fastest software development practices from America’s most talented digital developers and then synchronize the delivery of those capabilities to continually upgrade our capabilities while ensuring that the underlying industrial systems remain stable and secure.

Insights from Maritime Capture the Flag will inform design requirements that NAVSEA’s naval systems engineering directorate standards team will use for the installation of programmable logic controllers aboard ships. Representatives from NAVSEA-affiliated Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems’ Command and Control directorate plan to take lessons learned from Data Science and the Seven Seas to build tools that support safer navigation. Other ideas from the event will be used to provide future Consolidated Afloat Network System developers with ideas to accelerate the use of the new Agile Core Services. The Navy’s Cyber Warfare Development Group will use lessons learned to implement high velocity learning for new engineers who report to the command with strong technical skills but may not be aware of specific technologies in the maritime domain.

HACKtheMACHINE is the outreach element of Selby’s broader initiative to ignite a maritime ecosystem of new innovation with “on-ramps” built to take those insights into programs that can take action on them. With events like HACKtheMACHINE, the Navy is enacting the kind of change that will be required to maintain maritime dominance in the 21st century.

-NAVSEA-