The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) participated in Trident Warrior, an annual sea trial sponsored this year by U.S. Third Fleet and directed by U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Team SPAWAR, including program executive offices and systems centers, provided technology oversight for the experimentation's maritime domain awareness (MDA), information transport, command and control, information operations and other systems.
Navy Capt. Carl Conti, Fleet Forces Command director of experimentation (N9E), explained that Trident Warrior experimentation "provides an opportunity to introduce new technologies to the Sailor, refine them and make them better. It [experimentation] maximizes results, minimizes costs and saves the taxpayer a lot of money."
Trident Warrior's focus on at-sea experimentation expands capabilities by consolidating multiple streams of information into a secure environment so the warfighter can make the best tactical decision while in theater.
The information systems experimented and tested during Trident Warrior range from transmitting information between ships that are geographically dispersed, to increasing the volume of information that can be transmitted, and overall increases in the speed to respond to an emerging situation.
"The more data we can receive and transmit, the better we are and the more time we save," Conti said.
SPAWAR's Expanded Maritime Interception Operations (EMIO) Wireless device, for example, was tested during Trident Warrior 2006 and 2007. Conti noted it received a great deal of support from the military utility assessment.
EMIO Wireless now plays a key role in MDA by allowing vessel interdiction crews to automatically transmit identification information from a suspicious vessel to a Navy ship without having to manually pass the information back and forth. Prior to EMIO deployment, boarding teams might have to sail back and forth between the boarded vessel and their home ship to check databases. This process was not only time-consuming, but each transit added to the threat to naval personnel.
Using EMIO Wireless, the ship can transmit collected information to shore-based network operations centers to verify identities of interdicted crew members. Use of the Automatic Identification System allows the services to identify commercial vessels and, when paired with intelligence systems, the ability to detect anomalies and pirates.
The MDA focus area provides a balance between technology and procedural guidance to achieve increased situational awareness at the operational level of understanding. The All Partners Access Network is an enabling technology and was part of the experimentation. APAN is designed to enhance MDA and provides maritime partners a secure information sharing environment accessible from anywhere on the Internet. Dan Dunaway, MDA focus area lead, demonstrated APAN and said Team SPAWAR is heavily involved in the data sourcing for APAN.
Key experimentation this year also entailed testing communication alternatives in the event that satellite communications are denied. Early Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) capabilities are continually introduced, following in the footsteps of the Application Integration Early Adopter Initiative (AIEAI) installed earlier this year on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), which experienced significantly improved connectivity, bandwidth and network availability during January sea trials.
AIEAI, coordinated by the Tactical Networks Program Office (PMW 160) part of Team SPAWAR, represents a major shift in how software applications are employed aboard ships. By establishing a common computing environment, combat systems information officers can better manage hardware virtualization, software updates and patches, information security and standardized training.
According to Lt. Cmdr. David White, Lincoln's combat systems information officer, the enhanced network availability and capability had a significant impact on the crew's effectiveness.
Additionally, Trident Warrior examined humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts by providing commonly accessible tools that allow military, other government organizations, coalition partners and non-governmental organizations to share information when responding to a crisis.
When asked about the greatest benefits of Trident Warrior, Capt. John Funk, USS Bonhomme Richard's (LHD 6) commanding officer, said, "It's getting the engineers and the Sailors to collaborate together for technology development. At the end of the day, it's not all about the equipment, but it's about the Sailor and having a well-trained crew that's able to appropriately react."
This is the third time the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard has participated in the Trident Warrior series of at-sea experimentation.
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Andrea V. Houck is a communications specialist with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.