Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This Sounds Like A Really Bad Idea

Found this article over at The Sub Report, and at first I thought it was a joke. Maybe I'm too tired, though -- tell me what you think:
Lockheed's Advance Technology Lab in New Jersey is working on a system called T-TIDES (TTWCS-Tool for Interface Design Evaluation with Sensors) that will read the human physiological markers and tip off declines in crew effectiveness...
...T-TIDES will look particularly for signs of sleepiness and stress in the sailors who launch Tomahawks from ships and submarines. The research goes to the assumption that even the most-sophisticated weapons systems require human operators who are at the top of their games.
"A human's physiological markers typically depart from norms during high workload, distraction or drowsiness," Lockheed said in a news release. "As a result, performance may decline, reducing overall effectiveness of the interface."
The system relies on instruments that read vital signs such as brain activity, heart rate, pupil dilation and even the level of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Just what guys on watch need -- being hooked up to a bunch of crap that sounds an alarm or something if they zone out. I'm sorry, but on a boring midwatch, higher brain functions normally drop to zero as the watchteam discusses things like "name all the submarine slang terms that are named after an animal". (Examples: White Rat, Bear Trap, Bull Nuke)

The worst thing is, you just know that NR will buy it for Maneuvering watchstanders if it turns out to work, and then you'd have long detailed procedures about how to hook the machines up. That'd totally be the end of sea stories about guys falling asleep in Maneuvering, like the time I heard about where the EOOW fell asleep, and the CO, XO, and Eng came in and sat at the three panels (with the regular watchstanders kneeling down in front of the EOOW's desk), and then the CO did an RPCP alarm test...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry. The budget will kill it. The benefit has to outweigh the cost. Currently, the cost is too hard to define. What is the problem that they are solving with it? Have we had a big, multimillion dollar problem with people zoning out? Even further, do we have this big problem while we're actually shooting tomahawks?


8/24/2006 7:25 AM

Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

Sounds more like Lockheed is trying to pitch their science project in order to get the govt. to fund it. Generally, as RM1 said, their has to be a stated need and Analysis of Alternatives before the govt. even considers spending money on it. I can just imagine it now:

Need Statement: A way to maintain on-watch sailor alterness.

1) Coffee
2) LPO harassment, erm, attention
3) TINS sessions
4) Really expensive Lockheed doodle-whingy.

Requirements Officer: "Why do you want #4 again?"

8/24/2006 11:10 AM

Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

Alertness, dammit, alertness. Some day I will learn to spell...

8/24/2006 11:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

RM1 nailed it -- if you're actually engaged in firing point procedures, I rather doubt anyone will be particularly sleepy. Yes, you may be tired or fatigued from long days on watch, but that is the normal condition of the sailor at sea, one that he has grown accustomed to and has learned to work around. Next thing you know, someone will rig a cattle prod triggered by a helmet with an inclinometer on it, so if you nod off it'll zap you to "improve watchstander awareness."

8/24/2006 11:29 AM

Blogger Subsunk said...

Cheer up Bubblehead. Unless NR has changed an AWFUL lot, they'll never allow something which could be hooked up to humans and allow the human to be taken out of the safety loop. Imagine the alarm going off and the drowsy human doing something wrong (which they would do anyway), but then being able to blame being startled by the thingy with the wires coming out of his head.

Nah, they'll insist the human continue to be the final line of defense and then count on the machines to keep him from having to be needed until he is truly awake and capable of functioning through training and knowledge. Won't stop the problems and sure as hell won't keep the guys from falling asleep on watch, but it will give them a person to blame, which they always have to have.

Who was your NRRO rep anyway?

CDR Mowbray and LT Fields(how long do you have to work at NRRO to get to be a CDR who wears civilian clothes anyway?) were ours. I liked the guys. But then again, I kinda liked all the NRRO folks. (What is wrong with me?)


8/24/2006 12:05 PM

Blogger reddog said...

I remember some maneuvering watches where everybody was so messed up, that no sane person would have let us go to sea, physiometric monitoring or not. For good or evil, there were no sane people on board at the time. We still made it out past the Farralons in time to sink in good order.

I favor a more low tech approach. How about little strainers to fish the shit and puke out of the bilges near your watch station at the end of a bad Navy morning.

8/24/2006 2:16 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

RM1 did nail it; now here is the rest of the story (more likely):

Does Lockheed own reknown in behaviorial sciences, or in "skunk works"? (the skunk stuff, but it really will subcontract say $20,000 in behavioral sciences). Suppose the budget for a "black", submarine project (I have suggested several in my posts over the years, including this one that is overbudget:

Further, suppose navy coffers for submarine priorities dried up due to competing GWOT demands.

How would else would the navy get needed discretionary funds to Lockheed? The Office of Naval RESEARCH awarded Lockheed $724,000 out of its "Disruptive Technology Fund" for evaluations of new user interfaces, based on neuroscience, to monitor the fitness of missile operators.

The device would certainly be a disruptive technology, all right, unless first validated in trials with Air Force missile crews.

Will Lockheed make a prototype and will a lengthy research paper be produced? Absolutely. Will submarine medicine folks REALLY be involved with a subject of natural interest to them? They will be the authority that officially kills its implementation 12 months from now. ($724K only lasts a few months, but the bureaucracy takes another nine). This concept was dead on arrival. If the Navy need better cover stories, they should run them by me. LOL

8/24/2006 2:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the latest generation of submariners is anything like mine was, that system would become so much junk and become unworkable for "no known reason."

8/25/2006 7:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On my 1st boat, we had a piece of equipment called the AN/BQR-T4, which was capable, with a skilled operator of course, of inserting very realistic contacts into the sonar system. This was an excellent training tool, and I loved it, as long as it was used right. And that it was NEVER supposed to be used without the knowledge of the onwatch sonar techs. This was explicitly delineated in the equipment guidance manual. Then some O-ganger working on his masters thesis to measure "actual" operator Figure of Merit (the operators ability to detect a contact from background noise) came up with an experiment in which, using the T4, a target would be inserted without watchstander knowledge, and recording all the environmental conditions, would measure how long the operator would take to detect a contact. Guidance went out the TDU. We had to train the NAV ETs how to operate the T4, and according to a schedule that the OOD had, they would set in a submerged threat target. Being the submarine sailors and expert sonar operators we were, we knew how to tweak the system to tell when the T4 was turned on. Heh heh. That, and the NAV ET tasked to run the scenario would pop his head into Sonar and give us a silent little wave on his way to Forward E&E space.

We did this silliness until we actually had a chance encounter and no one took it seriously at first. Big oops. The XO put the kibosh on the experiment, and fast, for the remander of the patrol. And we kinda got reamed for cheating, but, it wasn't really our fault. And we told them after so many times of doing this, this would happen; it would be like the boy who cried wolf, but did the listen? Of course not.

We all knew this project was really just an operator alertment whiterat, and if we didn't get smart about it, we'd get our asses handed to us. It was far better to get caught cheating than it would ever be to get caught with your pants down not detecting a threat submarine. Besides, who was this jerk to try to get one over on us, anyway?

This LockMart project sounds something like what this officer guy was trying to do back then - find a way to hammer the crew when they're not 100%, when its not their fault for being that way in the first place.

Wow - that was pretty long. Sorry for the verbosity. Sort of.

8/25/2006 11:38 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Great story, Sonarman!

8/25/2006 7:25 PM


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