USS Boise Conducts Successful First Test of Remote
Maintenance Data Retrieval System
by Jack Papp
In a not-too-distant future, deployed U.S. submarines will be able to receive remote troubleshooting and maintenance assistance for their combat systems from technicians ashore in real time.
In a successful first step to making that possible, Lockheed Martin engineers remotely accessed and retrieved classified combat system maintenance data from USS Boise (SSN-764) through a secure SIPRNET landline during a dockside test in March. Boise has the latest installation and software version of the AN/BQQ-10 Submarine Sonar Suite and the AN/BYG-1 Submarine Tactical Combat System.
“We successfully accessed Boise’s combat system, extracted the system’s maintenance data and displayed it ashore at the Norfolk Naval Base Regional Maintenance Center,” said Roger Rosenberger, an engineer involved with the program. “We were able to observe the maintenance data remotely.”
This first step of remotely accessing and retrieving maintenance data was another successful milestone in the Maintenance Free Operating Period (MFOP) initiative. MFOP is a combat system design approach with a goal of eliminating the need for at-sea maintenance, thereby reducing requirements for associated maintenance training, documentation and supply support. With supportability built in – spares are embedded in the system along with the capability to semi-automatically use them in the operational environment – the submarine combat system could be treated as requiring no hardware maintenance actions while on a mission. Consequently the operator’s maintenance actions are reduced to notification and acknowledgement of asset reallocation and software updates/reconfigurations. System logs provide the necessary information for expeditious dockside maintenance and assistance to eliminate the need for unplanned fly-away technical assist actions.
Previously, Sailors recorded system maintenance data on
diskettes aboard the submarine and then sent the data via secure
e-mail to Lockheed Martin’s Customer Support Center in Manassas, Va., where it was analyzed by engineers.
“What we’ve demonstrated aboard USS Boise is a capability to move maintenance data off ship, without an operator in the loop,” said Tom Digan, a senior manager on the program. “With permission to electronically connect to the Tactical Local Area Network (TACLAN) on the submarine via the SIPRNET, the Navy can predict upcoming problems with systems, troubleshoot system anomalies, and if desired, assist in remote corrective actions for software problems.”
The MFOP initiative has already been piloted on four Los Angeles-class (688 and 688I) submarines with ARCI (Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion) sonar systems. All combat systems installed on the Los Angeles-class (688 and 688I), Seawolf-class, and new construction Virginia-class fast attack platforms make significant use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology and products. Because the Navy is driving towards a common combat system across all submarines, the ability to implement the MFOP processes and remote assistance capabilities is technically achievable. The cost avoidance in system downtime and the operational availability of the combat system has already been demonstrated in the pilot program.
The next step in MFOP’s remote diagnostic plan is demonstrating the capability to move combat system maintenance data from a submarine’s TACLAN to a remote shore site via secure satellite.
Mr. Papp supports Lockheed Martin’s public affairs office in Manassas, Va.