CRANE, Ind. –Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) employees continue to provide critical Maritime Electromagnetic Warfare (EW) support to ships across the country during healthcare-related restrictions from the COVID-19 global pandemic. EW employees are ensuring NSWC Crane stays open for business to continue to provide for warfighters across the world.
Since 2017, naval warships have undergone the most significant upgrade in EW capabilities in the last three decades. The AN/SLQ-32 EW system, originally introduced in the 1970s, is one of the main pieces of technology used to support this EW mission.
When it was introduced, the AN/SLQ-32 EW system (commonly referred to as the Slick-32) provided ships with capabilities such as early detection, signal analysis, threat warning, and protection from anti-ship missiles. In 2002, the Navy established the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP), an evolutionary development block upgrade program for the AN/SLQ-32(V) EW system that offers incremental enhancements in capability.
SEWIP Block 2, AN/SLQ-32(V)6, provides an enhanced Electronic Support (ES) capability by means of an upgraded ES antenna, ES receiver, and an open combat system interface for the AN/SLQ-32. These upgrades are necessary in order to keep pace with the threat and improve detection and accuracy capabilities of the AN/SLQ-32.
NSWC Crane engineers and technicians have been involved in the SEWIP since it was established. These Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) continue to play a critical role in the development and implementation of the program, even as healthcare-related restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have greatly impacted the process.
Bryan Fox, the Deputy Division Manager for Maritime EW Systems, says that even before COVID-19 restrictions were in place, NSWC Crane personnel were all over the world supporting the mission.
“Installing this new capability is huge for Maritime EW and the Navy,” says Fox. “The circumstances surrounding COVID has made it challenging for our workforce to keep up with demand and conduct of these installments and testing efforts. There are a new set of circumstances to implement social distancing procedures. For example, our workforce that is traveling spends an additional two weeks of time to and from a trip in self-quarantine. What was originally a 14-day mission is now 42 days.”
Fox says that the NSWC Crane EW SMEs make up a vast majority of the workforce with the expertise to conduct these installments efficiently and effectively and also bring those new systems to life.
“These experts are highly skilled,” says Fox. “They are not a ‘single skillset’ workforce. We have to be flexible and dynamic enough so we can meet the needs of the Warfighter and sustain the pace required across the FYDP and beyond. Their expertise ranges across ship installations, system operation and verification testing, and fleet support. They collectively work around the clock to provide support under normal circumstances, which is rigorous work that is physically and mentally challenging; they are still dedicated to ensure mission effectiveness under these current conditions.”
Charles Waggoner and Michael Ledden work on AN/SLQ-32 installations for NSWC Crane. Ledden says there are additional layers to mitigate risks of spreading COVID-19.
“There are extra layers; we have to quarantine in place on the way in and on the way out,” says Ledden. “Access to space on the ship is more complicated, you have to get cleared and there’s extra security. We are abiding by restrictions set in place by local commands, the state, and the Navy. This is being taken very seriously.”
Waggoner took precautions once he returned from an installation in Florida.
“I wanted to make sure I didn’t bring anything into the house and impact my family,” says Waggoner. “There are several people living at home, including those who are at-risk.”
Fox says the Crane experts are working toward the mission.
“These warships have a critical Electronic Warfare mission,” says Fox. “Our workforce is at Crane getting material ready and onsite on naval installations in Hawaii, Washington, Florida, Japan, Spain, and more. Our people are doing critical installations. Even under these additional cautionary procedures and potential risks they are exposing themselves to, they make sure these ships can do the EW mission now and in the future.”
About NSWC Crane
NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.
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