VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – “Red ship spotted on starboard side. Relative bearing is 090. Range is 500 yards and closing.”
“I have a Red ship moving from starboard to port.”
“Change course to 320.”
“Rudder is left standard. Coming to course 320.”
Commands such as these from the junior officer of the deck, aft lookout, officer of the deck, and helmsman are common on Navy warships at sea, but these commands were recently executed within the Naval Simulation Center Atlantic (NSCLANT), a Research and Development facility at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division Dam Neck Activity (NSWCDD DNA).
Over the three-day period, Fleet Sailors participated as four-man bridge teams testing the Advanced Navigation Team Shipboard Simulation (ANTS2) Phase 1 system in several freedom of navigation scenarios lasting around 15 minutes each. More than 30 stakeholders from commands such as Navy Education Training Command, Tactical Training Group Atlantic, Center for Surface Combat Systems, Afloat Training Group Atlantic, Office of Naval Research (ONR), NSWCDD and NSWC Corona Division observed the technology in action. The ANTS2 system was created to fill a surface ship training capability gap: inclusion of the ship’s bridge team in Fleet Synthetic Training (FST) events. Moreover, ANTS2 fills the training gap through experimentation with and prototyping of new technologies; augmented reality, virtual reality, legacy system interfacing, and the application of emerging standards of Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) Wireless Local Area Network set by the National Security Administration.
ANTS2 will provide the ship’s bridge and lookout teams a fully immersive visual training environment aboard their actual ship. It will allow the team to integrate with the rest of the crew during scenario-based simulations. Through the application of augmented reality, the objective is an “out the window” visualization of the common FST scenario while still allowing the trainees to see and interact with the navigation and ship handling systems on the bridge.
“The objective of using CSfC is to provide an untethered network connection allowing the bridge team freedom to move within the ship’s bridge and bridge wings,” said Corey Guilbault, Naval Simulation Center Atlantic (NSCLANT) lead, “while being connected to and fully integrated with ship’s secure embedded training systems.”
“We have been working on ANTS2 for just over a year now,” added Guilbault, “and I am pleased with what the team has been able to learn and demonstrate. This demonstration not only marks a mid-point milestone, ending a period of lab-based testing and experimentation (Phase 1); it now allows us to make active plans towards a test onboard a ship next year (Phase 2).”
During the three-day demonstration, observers were offered additional stand-alone demonstrations of related and emerging augmented reality technologies under evaluation at NSCLANT. The additional demonstrations allowed stakeholders and Sailors the opportunity to see what technologies are in the near future as well as some of the other training projects under development by NSWCDD DNA using virtual reality and augmented reality.
After the evaluation of the ANTS2 technology, a structured focus group, led by Bobby Jones, a Huntington Ingalls Industries-Mission Driven Innovative Solutions representative, was held with the Sailors who operated stations during the scenarios to obtain feedback, both positive and negative, that can be leveraged during the development of the Phase 2 demonstration. The feedback will be used to help the ANTS2 team focus their fiscal year 2010 efforts to deliver a solution that meets Fleet requirements.
“The whole point of the focus groups is to get feedback on what works, what doesn’t work and what could work better in the ANTS2 demonstration,” said Jones. “We want to make sure that when we move to Phase 2, we are providing innovative training solutions to the warfighter.”
“ONR looks at the demonstration at NSWCDD DNA’s Naval Simulation Center as getting the ANTS2 project one-step closer to completion,” said Glenn White, an ONR transition manager and demonstration observer. “Hopefully ANTS2 will not only save the Navy training costs, but will enable our warfighters to be more prepared for any and all situations.”
Major contributors to the ANTS2 Phase 1 demonstration include; NSWCDD DNA’s team, NSWC Corona Division’s NCTE Program, ONR, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command Pacific, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Arorae Corporation, IMMY Incorporated, and Stereolabs Incorporated.
NSWCDD DNA supports the mission of Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) by providing force-level integrated and interoperable engineering solutions, mission critical control systems, and associated testing and training technologies to meet maritime, joint, special warfare and information operation requirements related to surface warfare.