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.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Undersea Warfare Magazine Article On Virginia-Class Submarines

I'm not sure when it got posted, but the Winter 2007 edition of Undersea Warfare magazine is online now. The "newest" version has a really good article on operating USS Virginia (SSN 774) at sea that submariners of all ages will like. I especially liked one passage that described how inventive submariners are in figuring out some uses of installed equipment that designers never envisioned:
Each photonics mast has three cameras in it; a high-resolution black and white camera, a color camera, and an infrared camera. Virginia’s designers did not originally envision that the infrared camera would be used 24 hours per day, as it was designed as a night-vision camera. However, Cmdr. Cramer and his crew quickly discovered how versatile the photonics system is. While transiting down the Thames River to Block Island Sound during the day, “we would use infrared on the surface, and my team became accustomed to using it because it allowed us to see lobster pot buoys much quicker than the naked eye because the markers reflect heat differently than the adjacent water does, so the ship could easily maneuver around lobster pots or debris in the water.”
It's kinda the same way the designers of the scuttle from lower level berthing to the wardroom on a 688 never figured the crew would use it to listen in on "secret" officer meetings.

What "new" uses of installed equipment did submariners on your boats come up with?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another interesting use for installed equipment we found onboard VIRGINIA involved the Onboard Team Trainer Master Controller (OBTT MC.) It was an invaluable tool for training purposes, allowing us to inject contacts to the individual OBTs in sonar, radar, ESM, SRWS, and imaging (through an onboard image generator.) Additionally, the system linked to the BYG-1 fire control system, receiving solution data and weapon data to determine if weapons hit the simulated contacts, as well as the ship's control station, to receive ownship data so that the contacts could be adjusted accordingly during underway training when we're not using simulated navigation data.

Of course, this meant we could conduct all of our training onboard with the systems we use every day instead of heading up to subschool and using systems we weren't entirely familiar with.

The master controller could be operated from the OBTT MC console itself, or could be operated remotely from any of the EWS (executive workstations) onboard.

One interesting use we found for the OBTT MC was to run it from the CO or XOs stateroom. It would passively collect data from SCS and fire control, displaying ownship parameters and current fire control solutions on a geographic situational display. It wasn't a application of the OBTT MC that the designers at EB intended, but it was very useful, and the captain was very happy with it.

Unfortunately, the OBTT MC ran on an antiquated VME chassis and its longevity was not noteworthy. As the OBTT MC system expert, it was my job to tell it jokes and soothe it and keep it running for as long as possible, because I loathed having to go tell the captain that it had to come down for a reboot. My understanding is that it has since been replaced in post-modernization.

9/11/2007 8:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of the scuttles on 688's had an alternate purpose.

The one in the radio room (at least on 688i's - first flight 688's had their radio rooms in the wrong spot ;-) ) that led to the galley was the cookie hatch. Especially when, ahh, spending an inordinate amount of time at PD, with certain riders aboard. Radiomen would get hungry, and stick their heads through the hatch. Cranks were expected to provide whatever dessert was handy, or never get a radio checkout in a timely fashion. This worked especially well on the ETR nubs.

Then there was the scuttle between the wardroom head and the goat locker bunkroom. While the owner of that particular rack often hated the scuttle, he usually made up for it by stealing por..., errr, reading material out of the wardroom supply that was kept next to the crapper...

9/11/2007 9:04 AM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

So that's where all the officer por... er, reading material went to!

9/11/2007 10:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The radio scuttle was good for cookies, but a more common trade was for a news and sports downlink. MS's only need so many checkouts and radio needs an endless supply of cookies.

9/11/2007 11:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We also built a periscope from a cardboard tube, 2 inspection mirrors, and plenty of EB green so we could see who is in crew's mess or the galley without hanging upside down and sticking a head through the radio scuttle.

9/11/2007 12:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So that's where all the officer por... er, reading material went to!

We were convinced it was the MSes stealing our stuff until we caught *MY* RMC in the act. Bastard :-)

RM1: We also built a periscope from a cardboard tube, 2 inspection mirrors, and plenty of EB green so we could see who is in crew's mess or the galley

Ok, that is brilliant. We just made the most junior guy hang upside down...

9/11/2007 1:55 PM

Blogger J120 Bowman said...

The JO's on the good ship Atlanta actually lock wired shut the Goat Locker hatch to protect the reading material. It took us awhile to figure out where it went, until the hatch opened up on a certain young JO "studying" on the crapper!

9/11/2007 1:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post bubble - I'm afraid I don't have any stories to share but I wanted to say I appreciate the great work you do on this blog.

9/11/2007 5:34 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, this relates to a use of uninstalled equipment. Back in the day, one of the S-girls came out of overhaul at PHNSY without the "required" 400#/100# reducer in the air line to the ship's whistle. As a result, the whistle could be heard everywhere in the harbor and the CO looked for any excuse to use it.

9/11/2007 6:27 PM

Blogger Mark Hughes said...

Great article, thanks Joel. The Virginia class clearly has a lot on the ball. Recalling 688 OOD days, that automated depth control looks like a must-have option.

As it happens, I was also once upon a time part of the operational Photonics Mast Program (PMP) development team back in '95. The speculation that "the designers" didn't imagine the IR camera being used during the day is actually wide of the mark. There was no lack of NUSC scientists, active-duty submariners (senior & junior), ex-submariners and long-time periscope engineers involved in the process (not to mention "advanced development" resources that-shall-not-be-named), so rest assured that not a lot went un-imagined. As a rare new toy, it was frankly way too fun of a project to not get the imaginations going.

Not taking anything away from Kollmorgen, but a good deal of credit goes to EB on selling the idea of the PMP in the first place, particularly terms of freeing up internal submarine space design & allocation.

It was also just an idea whose time had finally come. State-of-the-art optical sensor design back then was all of 2 megapixels, but the high-def trend even 12 years ago was clear.

Saw USS Texas during her commissioning in Galveston almost exactly a year ago. It was a good-sized team at Kollmorgen, EB, Raytheon and NUSC that built the PMP, but I do confess to a personal twinge of pride in seeing the photonics masts doing their thing atop the sail after all this time. Glad...but not surprised...that the guys are enjoying it. May it serve them well in war & peace.

9/11/2007 6:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How long did the VME chassis actually last for? The vme bus interface really has just kept on going for all these years.

11/06/2008 2:48 PM


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