SPAWAR Improves USS Curtis Wilbur’s Combat Readiness

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) integrated a system of systems operability testing (SOT) capability for combatant ships onboard USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), which just completed an availability and sea trial period utilizing the new SOT combat readiness testing, March 6.

SOTs are part of ensuring interdependent command and control systems work seamlessly. Combat systems command and control is referred to as C5I and encompasses everything C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) does, but includes combat systems. SPAWAR Fleet Readiness Directorate (FRD) along with associated Program Executive Offices (PEOs) oversee many of these C4I and C5I systems onboard Navy ships, including acquisition, installation and support for command and control of advanced military information technology (IT) systems. However, the process of modernizing and upgrading a ship’s command and control system has proven challenging.

The concept of a C5I SOT test was initially formulated in 2010 and was first implemented on a limited scale on a few force level ships. Since then, C5I SOT testing has evolved into the current format which has been largely driven by the fielding of the Navy’s newest C4I system: Consolidated Afloat Network Enterprise System (CANES).

CANES is the latest tactical network being installed on Navy ships. It consolidates five legacy network systems into one, increasing operational effectiveness and interoperability. It will influence the advancement of C4I and C5I testing processes and influence the way the Navy looks at C4I and C5I.

The FRD developed SOVTs to address operational efficiency and to validate the functionality of respective systems, but ships that receive modernized/upgraded installs like CANES often experience problems with interoperability. In addition, a lack of emphasis on C5I testing prior to a ship’s basic training phase frequently resulted in discrepancies being discovered late in the training cycle, and in some cases, just prior to the ship deploying.

C5I SOT testing currently is not a fleet requirement, despite increasing requests from the fleet. Since October 2013, C5I SOTs have been executed on eleven destroyers, one amphibious assault ship and two aircraft carriers.

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Image: US Navy