Navy Overhauls Amphib’s Electronics Ahead of Deployment

Navy Overhauls Amphib’s Electronics Ahead of Deployment

Norfolk, Va. — The Navy is upgrading the sensors, radar, computer networks and electronics on-board its LPD 24 amphibious transport dock, the Arlington, in anticipation of its scheduled deployment next year, service officials said.

The ship and its crew are finishing up a six-month Post-Shakedown Availability — a time when engineering, electronic and technological adjustments are made to the ship prior to deployment, said Chief Warrant Officer Terrence Parks, an electronics materials officer.

“We had several upgrades and repairs done to get us ready for our deployment cycle. This included electronics packages and engineering modifications that will enable us to do our mission better,” Parks explained.

A key portion of the ship improvements involved upgrades to an on-board networking system called Shipboard Wide Area Network, or SWAN, designed to connect various ship functions such as radar, navigation, electronics and communications signals onto a single network.

“SWAN is our integrated network system that has a lot of components from the ship such as navigation, steering and other things together. Other ships have multiple networks. With SWAN, everything is connected and rides on the same network,” said Jeffrey Schneider, information systems technician.

The upgrade to SWAN converts several physical servers on the system to virtual servers, upgrading them to what’s called Blade Server Environments, he added.

“This way you have fewer cabinets and fewer servers to maintain. Now, we can move our servers around to different node rooms,” he said.

Also, the new design improves capability and performance compared to existing design by using the virtual servers, Navy spokeswoman Marissa Myatt said in a written statement.

“The upgrade reduces the number of server cabinets from eight to four. The use of virtual servers prevents loss of network connectivity due to any scheduled shipboard maintenance requiring a loss of power to any of the four server cabinets,” she added.

Also for the Marine Corps, the upgrade includes the ability to host servers for their equipment while embarked aboard the USS Arlington, Myatt said.

Should the upgrades to the SWAN system continue to progress as planned, then they will likely be extended to the entire class of LPD 17 amphibs.

Other improvements to the ship made during the PSA include modification to the heat, stress and monitoring systems on the ship, Parks said.

“This is a group of sensors placed throughout the ship where there is high heat,” he added.

The ship’s ability to monitor commercial shipping traffic and communicate with coalition allies were also improved during the upgrades, Parks explained.

“AIS, or Automated Identification Systems, allows us to get information on commercial vessels such as cargo details and last point of origin,” he said.

The ship also has what’s called a global command and control system or data base which provides the topography of the ships in the surrounding area, Parks explained.

The USS Arlington is one of a series of LPD 17 San Antonio-class amphibious assault ships designed to support and amphibious ready group and help transport Marines from ship to shore. The 684-foot ship is equipped with two Landing Craft Air Cushions and one Landing Craft Utility vehicle to move Marines and equipment to shore.

The ship, which can surge to a crew size of 800, can simultaneously operate four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters or two MV-22 Ospreys. The ship is designed to support an ARG, including a big-deck amphib but also has the capability to operate independently.

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Aren’t the San Antonios supposed to be “new”? Yikes if they’re due for upgrades while the rest of the amphib fleet lingers. I guess the other concern is whether or not ships being deployed overseas are an appropriate place to guinea-pig new electronics. Presumably the changes to the electronics architecture is good (perhaps inspired by next-gen electronics fits on the LCS?) but I wonder if these things shouldn’t wait.

Bad, Bad. A hit anywhere on the system takes the entire vessel out of service. Where’s the logic? What’s the thinking? I wouldn’t want my name on this one!

This makes wonder how susceptible to battle damage this new system is. Does this ship have a glass jaw?

This ship was commissioned barely over a year ago. Why are new ships being setup with equipment basically in need of an upgrade when they are new out of the box?

Great question. Presumably to keep construction on track, you avoid changing production workflows and backfit the modifications in later. It is more costly though…though disruptions to shipyard workflows are disruptive in their own way. In WW2 we had to set up separate factories to accomodate updates to the B-29 before they flew out to the Pacific rather than changing the factory workflow since it would take the factory offline.

Depends on how distributed the central system is. If the central system is well protected in the center of the ship, it would stand to reason any hit against it is probably quite crippling. If the system has triple backups or is run in parallel on three different blade clusters that cross-talk with redundancy between each other it shouldn’t be too bad.

Silly old one don’t you understand? Ships won’t get hit now. They have the network. We know all, we see all and we never make a mistake…

Most ships have a glass jaw. Its called a keel.

Yes…Pop a large torpedo under the keel and you break the back of most any currently active ship, CVN perhaps the exception.

The Iowa class battleships were designed with that well in mind such that the bow and stern sections could break off leaving the citadel intact and fighting. The big guns, magazines, boilers, combat information center, etc. were in the heavily armored citadel.

Yes there are ways of hardening a vessel to this one is placing the fuel bunkers on the bottom and other special way of building ships.

Interestingly enough the Iowa’s are lacking in most of the protections as they had destroyers in the hundreds and thousands for that.

I’m stationed aboard the 24. The issue as I was explained is that the navy has contracts signed when they build these ships, that certain variants and versions are installed by default, while other systems can’t be installed at all. Once the navy takes possession, the ship is then sent into the PSA cycle to finish construction by upgrading and installing all the improvements and final touches necessary to bring it up to speed and ready for deployment. The ship wont be seeing deployment for some time, which gives the crew time to break in and get acclimated to the new tech.

In the article it says there is redundancy so that at least one of the servers can be taken out without major issue


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