To maximize total allowable bandwidth for deployment, USS Enterprise Strike Group staff, in collaboration with the flagship communications department, conducted the first-ever satellite system cross-connect test with Europe Central Region Network Operations Center (ECRNOC). The proof of concept test was conducted to demonstrate Enterprise’s ability to cross-connect Internet Protocol services with another network operations center (NOC) outside the continental United States.
USS Enterprise (CVN 65) had been cross-connecting the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) and Commercial Broadband Satellite Program (CBSP) data paths with the Unified Atlantic Region Network Operations Center (UARNOC) in Norfolk, Va., as standard operating procedure during its workup cycle.
However, this is not standard procedure in 5th or 6th Fleet, and no aircraft carrier using the Automated Digital Network System (ADNS) Increment IIA (also known as ADNS-J) had attempted to cross-connect satellite services in either area of operation. After successfully testing the concept using the NOC in 6th Fleet, Enterprise became the first to cross-connect in 5th Fleet, cross-connecting with the Indian Ocean Region Network Operations Center (IORNOC).
Limitations of ADNDNS-J
ADNS Inc IIA ships, like the Enterprise and other aircraft carriers and amphibious warfare ships (LHA/LHD), similarly equipped with super high frequency (SHF) satellite communications AN/WSC-6(V)5, or (V)7 terminals capable of supporting dual DSCS data paths, have experienced bandwidth limitations resulting from the inability of the systems to dynamically load balance or dynamically allocate bandwidth.
However, over the last two years, Second Fleet ships have been cross-connecting DSCS and CBSP data paths in an effort to maximize bandwidth running over traditional CBSP paths. Although this doesn't provide load balancing or solve the problem that ADNS Inc IIA ships experience when given two DSCS leases for IP services, it does provide a means to use the two DSCS leases independently in a cross-connection configuration, or use a combined DSCS and CBSP lease to more effectively manage bandwidth.
For argument's sake, let's say an East Coast carrier operating in Second Fleet can get two DSCS leases at 2.048 megabits per second (Mbps) of throughput each and one CBSP lease at 1.024 Mbps of throughput. Once deployed, the same carrier might expect 4.096 Mbps of throughput on each of the three leases. Assuming ADNS-J allowed load balancing across the two DSCS data paths, we would have more than twice the aggregate bandwidth we had in the continental United States: 5.120 Mbps (4.096 Mbps DSCS + 1.024 Mbps CBSP) versus 12.288 Mbps (8.192 Mbps DSCS + 4.096 Mbps CBSP).
Unfortunately for Enterprise and other ADNS Inc IIA ships, dynamic bandwidth allocation across multiple paths (load balancing) is not possible because ADNS-J was not engineered to support load balancing in its current configuration. It wasn't until ADNS Inc III (ADNS-K) was deployed that ships were able to take advantage of aggregating multiple satellite leases into an effective bandwidth management plan based on operational requirements.
Consequently, in 5th Fleet we would not see an aggregate throughput of 8.192 Mbps of bandwidth on DSCS, but instead only 4.096 Mbps because the second DSCS lease is nothing more than a backup. This is where the benefit of cross-connecting DSCS and CBSP pays dividends because the services that traditionally transverse CBSP are overutilized, while services that transverse DSCS are underutilized.
Cross-Connect to Increase Bandwidth
By cross-connecting incoming DSCS and CBSP connections prior to transmission through the ADNS router (see Figure 1) and configuring the router at the servicing NOC, ships can experience upward of 100 percent or more in bandwidth increase or rate of data transfer, especially if they can negotiate a single DSCS lease at a higher bandwidth, instead of two leases at lower data rates. This makes a lot of sense for Enterprise and other ADNS limited Inc IIA ships, considering the second DSCS lease is essentially unused.
It is important to note that ADNS Inc IIA ships are not capable of processing two DSCS leases simultaneously, thereby sharing the aggregate bandwidth. They can, however, use one as a backup or configure them in an upload/download configuration. This configuration describes a lease that sends data while the second lease is used to receive data.
Cross-Connecting Aboard USS Enterprise
Enterprise was fresh out of the shipyard, preparing for its first at-sea period in nearly two years, when the approved (and slightly modified) satellite access request from Second Fleet was received. Second Fleet had provided Enterprise with two DSCS leases (capable of transmitting 2.048 Mbps of data) but no CBSP services. This IP services arrangement was out of the ordinary, considering an aircraft carrier would normally get at least one commercial lease at data transmission rates of 1.024 Mbps. No CBSP? How could the strike group N6 staff and the ship communicators possibly provide quality of life services and other operational products for the ship's crew?
That's when Mike Coleman, from fleet communications at Second Fleet, told the staff about the work Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic (NCTAMS LANT) had been doing with cross-connecting DSCS and CBSP paths to ensure ships received traditional services provided by both satellite systems at the maximum allowable bandwidth.
As it turns out, the first cross-connect proof of concept test was conducted aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) with the UARNOC in 2007 by Commander, Amphibious Squadron 4's fleet systems engi-neering team (FSET) support contractors, Allen Knapp and Matthew Klym, who are currently assigned to the Enterprise Strike Group staff. With their initiative, a little shore-side configuration help from NCTAMS LANT, and some creative satellite resourcing from Second Fleet's fleet resources department, the cross-connect concept quickly turned into a standard operating procedure on the East Coast in late 2008 and paved the way for how ADNS Inc IIA ships, like USS Enterprise, can more efficiently manage bandwidth.
As a result, we were able to use both DSCS leases independently to provide IP services and effectively increase traditional CBSP bandwidth throughput by 100 percent to 2.048 Mbps — an increase from the traditional 1.024 Mbps rate.
For Enterprise's second underway period, the ship was given a single 2.048 Mbps data transmission CBSP lease and a single 3.072 Mbps data transmission DSCS lease. Again, we were able to cross-connect DSCS and CBSP to maximize bandwidth that would normally transverse the CBSP path, effectively achieving a 200 percent increase in bandwidth.
Benefits of Cross Connecting
The real advantage of cross-connecting occurs with DSCS leases providing more bandwidth than typical leases for deployed units in 5th and 6th Fleets. In the Second Fleet area of operations, satellite leases provide less bandwidth, and the availability of commercial leases decreases because bandwidth is allocated among the many ships homeported on the East Coast.
Aircraft carriers and L-class ships can usually get a single commercial lease; however, as the Navy moves toward less expensive X-band services, the C-band leases will naturally decrease. As a result, ADNS Inc IIA ships will be forced to meet operational commitments with only a single satellite system, DSCS, to support all shipboard IP services. Consequently, communicators onboard ADNS Inc IIA ships will need to have the knowledge and ability to cross-connect two DSCS data paths to maintain the same aggregate bandwidth.
Enterprise has been cross-connecting DSCS and CBSP services for the past year and has continued the process to maximize bandwidth during deployment. Instead of a single CBSP lease at 4.096 Mbps throughput and dual DSCS leases at 4.096 Mbps, Enterprise was able to leverage a successful test with ECRNOC into a single CBSP lease (4.096 Mbps) and a single DSCS lease (initially 6.144 Mbps and later 8.192 Mbps) depending on our mission set as Commander Task Force 50 or Commander Task Group 50.1.
During dual carrier operations in 5th Fleet, the carrier tasked with duties as CTF 50 is responsible for Operation New Dawn, the follow-on to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in the Arabian Gulf. Commander Task Group 50.1, consequently reports to CTF 50 and assumes responsibility for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), supporting combat operations in Afghanistan.
Both carriers have antipiracy missions supporting 5th Fleet operations in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman. Under this two-carrier construct, CTF 50 is allocated more satellite resources as the "senior" carrier, than CTG 50.1.
The net benefit for Enterprise was a 50 to 100 percent increase in bandwidth rate running over traditional CBSP paths compared to traditional 5th Fleet allocations.
In the end, this was a significant quality of life improvement for Enterprise and its Sailors. Equally significant, was the improvement for the warfighter and operations because we increased and more efficiently used the total aggregate bandwidth available. In the future, cross-connecting DSCS and CBSP will benefit other ADNS Inc IIA ships deploying to 5th and 6th Fleets by providing a means to more efficiently and effectively use allocated bandwidth.
Cmdr. Eric Johnson is an Information Professional officer currently serving as the deputy N6 assigned to Commander Strike Group Twelve staff aboard USS Enterprise. Johnson will report to NCTAMS PAC as the chief staff officer in June.