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CHIPS Articles: IT-21 Update: Executing the 1998 Seattle Conference Vision

IT-21 Update: Executing the 1998 Seattle Conference Vision
By U.S. Navy Capt. Timothy M. Naple - April-June 2002
IT-21 has fundamentally changed today's battle force operations, providing the Fleet with state-of-the-art Command and Control—and Information systems solutions, and significantly improving the Quality of Life of deployed service members.


The Seattle Conference convened over four years ago when Admiral Archie Clemins, then Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, outlined his plan to Senior Naval Leadership to install Information Technology for the 21ST Century (IT-21) on all Navy ships by 2005. Since the Seattle Conference, the original IT-21 requirements have expanded as a result of new technology and a refresh rate for some systems of 18 to 24 months.

One hundred ninety-two ships now have on line capability consisting of NIPRNET/SIPRNET for unclassified/classified information distribution, one or more satellite "pipes" for receipt and transmission of voice, video and data, and real-time intelligence information available on aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious ships.

"Full IT-21" capability includes online access plus higher performance distribution systems, additional pipes and expanded intelligence systems. The USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3) was the first ship to attain full IT-21 capability in August 2001 and was followed by recent completions on the USS Nassau (LHA-4), USS LaSalle (LPD-3) and USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20). IT-21 has fundamentally changed today's battle force operations, providing the Fleet with state-of-the-art Command and Control and Information systems solutions, and significantly improving the Quality of Life of deployed service members. The text boxes at the end of this article explain some of the sophisticated technology of the IT-21 installation.

The key to the successful fielding of IT-21 in the Fleet is a vastly improved installation process introduced by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) and SPAWAR Systems Centers (SSC). Historically, new IT-21 systems were installed on ships in an "ad hoc" manner throughout the Inter-Deployment Training Cycle (IDTC).

In FY00, SPAWAR installation teams put themselves in the shoes of their Fleet customers and instituted a new process to coordinate the critical pillars of the installation process: Ship Checks Prior to Deployment/Ship Installation Drawing (SID) Completion 120 Days Prior (A-120) to Availability Start, Equipment Delivery 60 Days Prior (A-60) to Availability Start, Installation Funding and Scheduling and Installation Execution with Umbrella Contracts.

Planning for Success

Ship Checks Prior to Deployment/Ship Installation Drawing (SID) Completion: This is the key to the success of the new process. Ship check teams confirm current ship configuration 30-60 days prior to deployment with SID completion by NAVSEA Planning Yards during the first three months of the Battle Group deployment. Metrics for on time completion of each ship check are tracked to ensure SID availability 120 days (A-120) prior to the start of the installation. With SIDS available at A-120 SPAWAR Systems Centers are able to award contracts with selected Industry Partners 100 days (A-100) before the start of the availability.

Equipment Delivery 60 Days Prior (A-60) to Availability Start: SPAWAR Program Managers (PMWs) are responsible for the development and acquisition of individual systems of the SPAWAR Product Line. PMWs must coordinate system equipment acquisition from government and industry sources to ensure delivery to installation teams by A-60. PMWs also play a critical role in the above ship check process by providing Installation Configuration Diagrams (ICD) consisting of equipment dimensions, power requirements and other system unique specifications. ICDs are used by the ship check teams and Navy Planning Yard (PY) representatives to ensure seamless installation of systems on ships.

Installation Funding: CNO N6 (Chief of Naval Operations, Space, Information Warfare, Command and Control Directorate) is the primary IT-21 resource sponsor providing OPN (Other Procurement, Navy) funding for IT-21 installations.

Close coordination is required between CNO N6 and SPAWAR in both Program Objective Memorandum (POM) planning and budget execution years to ensure funding is available for IT-21 installation. Funding coordination is even more critical when ship availabilities cross two fiscal years.

Installation Scheduling: The schedule installation process pillar was previously the most challenging to coordinate. “Welding” ships to piers for up to 20 weeks to complete complex IT-21 installation packages competed with long- and short-term operational schedules. Significant cost increases were also seen when installations were phased to accommodate ship schedule changes.

Joint CINCLANTFLT/CINPACFLT direction to the systems commands (SYSCOMs) in July 2000 to complete all installations early in the IDTC provided the schedule stability required to improve the process. The CINC’s objectives were to complete modernization installation early in the IDTC while ships were already engaged in maintenance and allow the ships’ company the opportunity to train and gain proficiency with new systems prior to deployment.

The new policy also achieved serendipity with the CINC’s ability to deploy ships earlier than scheduled to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom since installations were completed early in the IDTC.

Installation Execution with Umbrella Contracts: The SPAWAR systems centers, with industry partners, are responsible for IT-21 installation execution. In FY01, the SPAWAR systems centers reduced the large number of companies in the pool of installers to select a few with a desire for long-term teaming with SPAWAR.

The Umbrella Contracts ( have proven to be a win-win solution for both government and industry. The government benefits from competitively bid installation costs, high quality work from teams with experience in multiple installations, and commitment from industry to complete on schedule at or below estimated cost.

Industry benefits from a guarantee of future work if quality, schedule and cost milestones are achieved. With future work guaranteed, companies are able to maintain a stable workforce. Cash awards are available and provide additional incentives for industry partners to produce high-quality installations.

The Perfect IT-21 Installation

IT-21 installations are planned with other SYSCOM installations in accordance with the CINC directed Deployment Minus 30 Months (D-30) process. The following outlines the “perfect” IT-21 installation.

• D-30 to D-28. IT-21 system is engineering and operationally tested and meets Operational Requirements Document (ORD) requirements.
• D-28 to D-25. CINCs baseline battle group (BG) composition and determine IT-21 system requirements.
• D-25 to D-24. SPAWAR technical experts and Navy planning yard representatives complete ship checks for systems baselined for BG by CINCs.
• D-24 to D-20. Navy planning yards complete ship installation drawings by D-20 (nominally 120 days prior to start of availability) (A-120).
• D-19. SPAWAR Systems Center signs contract for installation execution 100 days prior to start of availability (A-100).
• D-18. SPAWAR PMWs deliver system equipment 60 days prior to start of availability (A-60).
• D-17. Ship returns from deployment and stands down for 30 days (A-30).
• D-16. Installation package begins after crew returns from post deployment stand down. Ship sends some crew members to training while others engage with SPAWAR team for installation execution.
• D-16 to D-12. Contractor completes installation on time and within budget. Ship continues training requirements contained in the Integrated Battle Force Training tool.
• D-5. SPAWAR completes C4ISR checkout, an end-to-end test of newly installed and legacy systems at the pier to validate end-to-end system performance; and also provides an additional training opportunity for the ship’s company. The goal of the checkout is to reduce the number of Battle Group Systems Integration Testing (BGSIT) issues by connecting system degradations and training shortfalls prior to the underway tests.
• D-4. BG completes BGSIT.
• D-0. BG deploys with all BGSIT issues corrected.

Ensuring Customer Satisfaction

Another key to recent success was the consolidation of individual SPAWAR PMW installation funding and responsibilities into a single Installations and Logistics Directorate, instituted by former SPAWAR Commander Rear Adm. John A. Gauss and current SPAWAR Commander Rear Adm. Kenneth D. Slaght.

Rear Adm. David J. Antanitus leads the SPAWAR Installation and Logistics Directorate (SPAWAR 04) and is the single point of contact for installations, training and logistics for SPAWAR systems. In addition, he has provided a customer feedback mechanism by visiting a “ship a week” and directly engaging ships as SPAWAR customers.

Feedback provided from commanding officers, crews of aircraft carriers, combatants, amphibious ships, submarines and mine warfare ships have provided numerous process improvements. Antanitus is a strong advocate of speaking and listening to the fleet, and advises, “Your customer will let you know how you are doing.”

Additional challenges and opportunities for SPAWAR to improve the installation process include:

-- Teaming with CINCs, TYCOMs (Type Commanders) and other SYSCOMs to lock-in battle group composition early in the process to all ship checks to be completed prior to deployment. Ship checks conducted while ships are deployed are costly while post deployment ship checks do not allow for timely delivery of SIDs resulting in post availability installation.

-- Taking advantage of the efficiencies of the early planning steps of the installation process and approving battle group composition changes after considering cost impact are keys to future success. Considerable cost-savings can be achieved and more capability provided to the fleet by limiting battle group composition changes.


The SPAWAR installation process is meeting fleet requirements and providing the information systems required—supporting the current war on terrorism and Joint Vision 2010. Process improvement measured by meaningful metrics that focus the efforts of each member of the installation team is the formula to success.

The improved SPAWAR installation process is the model for ship modernization and is providing IT-21 systems for successful fleet operations.

Capt. Tim Naple is in the Installations/Logistics Directorate, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.

Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS)

This high capacity digital information distribution system provides rapid, secure, jam-resistant communications, navigation, and identification capabilities appropriate for up to and including Secret information.

JTIDS provides Navy tactical aircraft and ships, and Marine Corps units, with crypto-secure, jam-resistant, and low-probability of exploitation tactical data and voice communication at a high data rate. It also provides capabilities for common-grid navigation and automatic communications relay.

JTIDS is a joint program directed by OSD. It has been integrated into numerous platforms and systems, including: aircraft carriers, surface warfare ships, amphibious assault ships, submarines, F-14 Tomcat, E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, the Marine Corps Tactical Air Operations Centers (TAOCs) and Tactical Air Command Centers (TACCs). Other service and foreign nation participants include the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, Great Britain and Canada.

Naval Tactical Command Support System

NTCSS is the afloat, deployable, and ashore system that develops and fields tactical support systems for the Navy and Marine Corps. NTCSS provides operational commanders the business management systems required for shipboard, aviation, and submarine maintenance, supply, and medical operations, and personnel administration through every level of operations, from peacetime through war.

NTCSS supports network-centric warfare by integrating logistics information for the warfighter. NTCSS replaces several logistics systems through migration into common products: the Shipboard Non-tactical ADP Program (SNAP), the Naval Aviation Logistics Command Management Information System (NALCOMIS), Maintenance Resource Management System (MRMS), and several smaller logistics applications.

NTCSS, through future migration to the Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment (DII COE) technical infrastructure, will be used to complete the tactical readiness picture for operational commanders by integration into the Global Command and Support System (GCSS) and the Common Operational Picture (COP C2P).

NTCSS is an evolutionary program strategy merging the technical and functional capabilities of the system components. The first stage of the NTCSS strategy included hardware modernization and network installations using open system architectures and operating environments at all sites. This hardware environment is common with tactical programs and compliant with DII standards.

The second stage involves technical optimization of the functional applications using modern software development tools, relational databases, and a common operating environment.

Follow-on stages of the program involve development and implementation of Business Process Improvements (BPIs) under the sponsorship of functional and fleet managers. BPI development will support reduced manpower, improved operations and migration of work from afloat to ashore to reduce Navy total ownership cost. The majority of sites have received first phase implementation to provide a standard baseline.

The program is currently fielding phase two, NTCSS Optimized on ships and afloat and ashore aviation intermediate maintenance activities. Fielding of NTCSS Optimized applications will be complete by FY05, based on current funding projections.

Challenge Athena Commercial Wideband Satellite Communications Program

Challenge Athena is a full-duplex, high data rate (1.544 Mbps) communications link (C/Ku wideband) capable of providing access to high volume primary national imagery dissemination; intelligence database transfers; video tele-conferencing, tele-medicine, and tele-training services; and various other computer data systems.

It also supports tactical strike and Tomahawk mission planning, the Defense Information Support Network (DISN), Joint Interoperable Networks, including Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS), Secret/Unclassified Internet Protocol Router Networks and Air Tasking Order/Mission Data Update (ATO/MDU) transmissions.

This system uses commercial satellite connectivity and commercial off-the-shelf equipment and non-development items (COTS/NDI) to augment existing, overburdened military satellite systems. Current funding provides Challenge Athena terminals to approximately 40 Joint Task Force command-capable ships by FY05.

Concurrent with this effort is the extension of medium data-rate connectivity to other accompanying surface warships, amphibious assault ships, and logistics support ships via a battle group IT-21 wide-area network that will eventually provide these capabilities to all Navy ships.

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