Submarine VMS Running Behind?
An article in The Virginian-Pilot about a press availability to which the crew of PCU North Carolina (SSN 777) was subjected last week talked about the boat's navigation team, and goes into some detail about the upcoming installation of the Submarine Voyage Maintenance System (VMS). Excerpts:
The Navy has begun equipping submarines with a computerized program called VMS, or voyage management system. The program will do with microprocessors what Mason does by hand, allowing navigators to spend less time estimating where they are and more figuring out what's ahead.I'm not sure how accurate that list of submarines currently certified for VMS really is. According to this Navy website article from last year, USS Norfolk (SSN 714), who's currently deployed, was supposed to get it next. In any event, at this pace, it looks like the Sub Force's goal to have it certified on all boats by the end of next year will be kind of hard to meet.
The switch, which began last year on the Norfolk-based submarine Oklahoma City, will redefine one of the most basic tasks of mariners for centuries: determining, or "fixing," a ship's position using various environmental clues...
...Davis said planners originally were going to build all Virginia-class subs with VMS. Instead, the fifth boat of the class - now being built in Connecticut - will be the first to leave the shipyard with electronic navigation capabilities.
Five older submarines - Ohio, Florida, Houston, Buffalo, and Oklahoma City - have been retrofitted and are now certified to use VMS.
Personally, I like the idea of VMS -- as long as we have enough paper charts on hand to get back home if the thing craps out.