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CHIPS Articles: Surface Combat Training Excels With Simulation

Surface Combat Training Excels With Simulation
By Capt. Robert Kerno and Brian Deters - February 22, 2012
The Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) understands the advantages of leveraging current training systems technology and is using a larger scale of shore-based simulations in its school houses.

The center's staff says that as a result of using more than 61 simulation products, CSCS is producing a more effective Sailor for the fleet, decreasing their reliance on technical training equipment (TTE) and avoiding training objectives that are too complex, expensive or dangerous to carry out in a shipboard environment.

Shore-based simulation enables trainees to be exposed to situations that would otherwise be cost prohibitive. "The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 1 and 2 simulator, which is on board the LCS Shore-Based Training Facility (LTF) and operated by CSCS Detachment San Diego, avoids fuel costs by enabling Sailors to train ashore on performance tasks that previously could only be accomplished by getting the ship underway," explained Michael Kroner, business analyst, CSCS technical support. "The LCS crews are able to satisfy underway navigation check-ride qualification requirements by using the simulator. This is the first instance in the surface Navy where we've been able to accomplish this."

Shore-based simulation not only saves money but also produces a highly trained Sailor for shipboard duty. "Shore-based simulation in conjunction with an intelligent tutoring system enables training to be delivered at a high-quality, repeatable standard with trainee performance being objectively measured and tracked throughout the training course," said Reinhard Williams, simulation coordinator, CSCS technical support. "For example, using the Anti-Submarine Tactical Air Controller Intelligent Training Aid (ASTAC ITA) along with other training approach changes in the ASTAC course, which is taught at CSCS learning sites' Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center and CSCS Detachment East, has reduced the trainee course failure rate from 30 percent to less than 2 percent."

Shore-based simulation also enables rotational crews to be trained, qualified and certified ashore prior to deployment. "LCS rotational crews are being tactically trained and certified ashore in some mission areas at the LTF," Kroner added. "This practice will expand to AEGIS combat system ashore crews in 2015. The capabilities of the technology in our shore-based trainers will enable fleet commanders to grant these certifications ashore and give them confidence that the crews will be able to perform the mission in an operational environment."

Shore-based simulation facilitates large groups of students to practice maintenance and operator tasks simultaneously rather than cycling each student through for practice on limited numbers of actual equipment.

"At CSCS Unit Dam Neck, we have used simulation in several courses to augment and enhance our hands-on training," explained Capt. Kenneth Krogman, commanding officer of CSCS Unit Dam Neck. "In our Close-in Weapons System (CIWS) course, we use simulation in two major ways. First, to familiarize our students with normal maintenance procedures before they perform these procedures on the live equipment. Second, to enhance our fault correction and isolation training, simulation allows us to introduce students to dozens, even hundreds, of system faults that we simply cannot safely initiate on the live equipment. This dual approach not only broadens the experience of the student, but saves wear and tear on the actual CIWS mounts. It's a win-win."

"Adding the Visual Integrated Simulation and Training Application (VISTA) exposes the student to more than three times as many faults during maintenance training and countless reps and sets in operational light-off procedures while not adding a single day to the course length," Kroner said.

In addition, shore-based simulation provides a venue to train ashore when ships are unavailable as a result of an equipment casualty or scheduled maintenance.

"Within the inter-deployment training cycle, our shipboard combat systems and personnel are overscheduled with competing operational, maintenance and training requirements," said Lt. Cmdr. Scott Currier, officer-in-charge of CSCS Detachment Norfolk. "Every equipment casualty within the shipboard combat systems suite has a direct cost in terms of time, money and manpower to repair. Additionally, the indirect costs of stopped training can be far more significant than the direct costs due to result of lost man hours for both the trainers and students. A simple three-day delay in equipment repair can result in a cascading impact due to the rescheduling of competing demands on system time across multiple organizations. The acquisition of a shore-based simulation capability in support of tactical training is the Navy's next imperative."

In training, safety is essential and shore-based simulation can be used to train high-risk tasks without placing the trainee in the actual risky situation.

"When teaching a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) coxswain how to drive the boat in foggy or high sea-state conditions, the shore-based simulation enables the trainee to practice in a safe and controlled environment," Kroner said. "If the trainee makes a mistake while driving the simulator, there is no damage to equipment or harm to personnel."

CSCS not only understands the importance of training today's Sailor, but also tomorrow's fleet. Simulation technology addresses several essential items in the training environment in a way that no other training approach encompasses. Simulation will continue to play a critical role in the Center for Surface Combat Systems' training strategy, and it will be used to even greater effect as technology evolves and is executed in the school house.

For more information about CSCS, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/cscs/.

Capt. Robert Kerno and Brian Deters work for the Center for Surface Combat Systems.

NEWPORT, R.I. (Oct. 17, 2011) The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) transits Narragansett Bay en route to participate in the 20th International Seapower Symposium at the U.S. Naval War College. U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Jason Salata.
NEWPORT, R.I. (Oct. 17, 2011) The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) transits Narragansett Bay en route to participate in the 20th International Seapower Symposium at the U.S. Naval War College. U.S. Navy photo by Cmdr. Jason Salata.
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