A key aspect of the Navy’s modernization planning is upgrading cybersecurity, command and control, communications and electronic warfare capabilities for ships at sea. The Navy’s next generation tactical afloat network is CANES — or — Consolidated Afloat Network Enterprise Services. CANES is designed to provide standardization by reducing the number of network variants by ship class and across the fleet. In addition to reducing the system’s total ownership costs for the Navy, Sailors will benefit by having greater familiarity with ship network configuration. The Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence — also known as C4I — is the Navy’s lead for the CANES program.
“CANES is more than a system, it is also a new business model for delivering capability to the fleet,” said Rear Adm. Jerry Burroughs, PEO C4I. “It takes five legacy networks and combines them into one network, allowing us to streamline support, training and operating procedures.”
Since the first CANES installation kicked off in late December 2012 aboard the destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69), we wanted to get perspective about the process from the ship’s CO, Cmdr. Steve Shedd. Cmdr. Shedd was interviewed in early March by Sandy DeMunnik, who provides communications support for PEO C4I.
Q: What work is being done with your ship right now?
A: Right now the ship is in the middle of an extended drydock availability that’s scheduled to last 10 to 11 months. During this availability we’re scheduled to get a variety of hull, mechanical and engineering upgrades to the ship to extend its service life out to the expected 35 years. In addition to that, we’re getting some C4I upgrades, from the Navy Multiband Terminal to the CANES installation.
Q: Can you tell me about the CANES installation?
A: The CANES installation is going to replace our legacy ISNS (Integrated
Shipboard Network System) architecture for our local area network, and [it] gives us increased capability from an administrator standpoint. It will also refresh all our PCs and brings some increased effectiveness and efficiencies for the crew with the better PC loadouts we’re going to get.
Q: Upgrading a network aboard a Navy ship is not like upgrading your network at home. Can you explain what the differences are?
A: The biggest difference in doing a PC or network upgrade at home as compared to a ship is the extensive industrial work that needs to go on throughout the ship. You can imagine the ship has numerous cableways throughout that we have to restring — all of the network cable, Cat 5 and fiber needs to be strung from scratch. We have ripped out all the old stuff, then we have to redo foundations for all the cabinetry and the racks that have to go in their place. In addition, we’re also doing work to some ventilation units to increase our cooling capacity in a couple key spaces to accommodate the updated server racks.
Q: Isn’t an updated Internet café also being planned?
A: Many ships are configured differently throughout the Navy, and it depends
on how they have gone through other availabilities and utilize spaces. Milius is unique because, several years ago, an Internet café was created out of one space and it’s been a tremendous benefit to Sailors for quality of life. So in this space on the ship we have five computer workstations and the crew is able to go in their off-time and they’re able to log in, using their normal network log-in, and do what they need to do from Facebook to off-ship email.
And I tell you what, we went on an eight-month deployment last year and the connectivity we had with home was absolutely phenomenal. The ability for my crew to communicate back home
gives peace of mind, makes them happy and more productive on-station.
Q: What benefits do you see when CANES is on the ship?
A: I am excited about a couple of aspects that PMW 160 (Tactical Networks Program Office, Navy Program Executive Office C4I) has briefed us on. The first thing I’m excited about is our thin clients, or multidomain computer workstations, we’re getting. That is a huge boost because I go from a workstation where I have three desktops to one desktop that will allow me to log-in to NIPRNET, SIPRNET and CENTRIXS (Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System, the network for coalition communications ), all from the same workstation. And that is real estate reduction, which on a ship is a key and essential because you don’t have a lot of real estate for desktop computers.
Getting the toughbook laptops is a good thing because walking around a steel ship, up and down ladders with unprotected laptops, is not good for laptop survivability.
Another benefit is the ability to support non-governmental organizations by using virtual private
networks to give NGOs access to the Internet without touching our LAN. That is a huge win for increased operational capability, and potentially we might be able to use that feature for quality of life aspects.
Lastly, I’m looking forward to having wireless connectivity within the skin of the ship to expand our LAN. We’re limited in the number of LAN drops we can have, which can be frustrating. So having wireless access points where we can expand LAN usage does nothing but increase productivity on the ship, which is a win.
Q: How do you view the addition of the Navy Multiband Terminal?
A: NMT is the replacement of our existing EHF (extremely high frequency) antenna. It combines SHF (super high frequency), EHF and the Global Broadcasting System, so it brings us an increased ability to combine three separate antennas into one. This is also a real estate win with the limited space we have up on our superstructure.
Having one antenna in the place of three is certainly advantageous. With that capability at sea, it appears we’ll have a lot of functionality that we didn’t have with our legacy EHF system; so we’re excited to get that too.
Q: What would you tell other COs about where you’re at in the CANES installation process
A: Being the first ship to get CANES comes with responsibility on my part. My message to the rest of the fleet and fellow COs is that I’ve got their back. With any installation there will be some challenges, and I want to make sure that SPAWAR (Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command), with PMW 160 and PEO C4I, have looked at all the angles from an operator perspective. It’s important for operators like me [to] provide good feedback about the CANES install, to capture those lessons learned so that we keep the warfighter’s best interest in mind as we get this program going. I’m looking to positively impact future installations.
Q: Have there been any surprises thus far?
A: So far there have been no major surprises, but I want to explain the two
separate phases. Number one, we have the industrial phase, and then we have the testing and integration phase. The industrial work is going on right now.
The second phase we’re going to enter is in the June–July timeframe for the testing and integration, and I’m certainly concerned [about] how that goes. I’ll be looking at that with great interest as we light the system off, incorporate other onboard systems and make sure we can operate like we did before. I know a lot of COs may be reticent to be the first ship for a new system install, but I’m all-in on being the first one. I enjoy the dialogue with the shore side and I
want to ensure the operators’ input is being heard early in the process. We’ll ride the challenges through so the last installation down the road in 2020 or 2023 is just as good as the second installation based on our lessons learned.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?
A: The teamwork between SPAWAR and PMW 160 has been excellent. Milius has
been afforded a lot of support from the right levels, and by the right levels, I mean at the 0-6 level and up, to make sure we’re afforded a voice to make this process work. The teams have been receptive to our requests, from small things like LAN drop locations to some larger things like VTC capability locations. So we’re working through those minor issues, and the teamwork is absolutely critical. I think the worst thing a ship can do with a first install is to develop an adversarial relationship and assume that the shore-side isn’t thinking about the best interest of the warfighter.
Sometimes there might be a translation issue, but everybody has a common goal. That’s to get this ship back out on station with increased capability, and CANES is certainly [a] multiplier in making that happen.
CANES Keeps Pace with Technology Advances
Technology changes constantly. The hottest, latest, most innovative computer can become obsolete before the average user has even figured out all the bells and whistles. If the average user decides to upgrade, it’s a fairly straightforward process: back up your data, unplug the old system and plug in the new system, load your data and you are all set.
According to Bart Lankard, a Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command ship superintendent, the process for upgrading Navy networks is a much more involved process.
“There is only so much real estate on a ship,” explained Lankard, who is overseeing installation of the Navy’s next generation tactical afloat network, CANES, or the Consolidated Afloat Network and Enterprise Services, aboard USS Milius (DDG 69). While describing the intricate industrial work required to modernize a network aboard a Navy vessel, Lankard said, you have to disconnect the old system, unbolt it and remove it from the ship. Then a welder is brought in to cut out the existing foundation, which is a piece of metal in the deck that holds the rack to the deck
of the ship.
“You have to transport [the new] rack through very tight spaces, without damaging it or the ship to get it to its space. Then you have to put the rack on its foundation and build what is called a
swaybrace at the top of the rack. Then, you have to run all the cabling through the ship, from a power panel to the rack, or from workstations or a switch or a hub,” he continued. “This is a very
detailed process and if you multiply this by 17 or 18 racks it can be very difficult. This is the first installation of its kind,” Lankard said.
Lessons learned are being carefully collected to ensure that future installations are performed faster and more efficiently.
The guided missile destroyers USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USS Chafee (DDG 90) are the next ships in class scheduled to receive the CANES installation. USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) is the first aircraft carrier scheduled to receive CANES.
For More Information
To view a video with Cmdr. Steve Shedd discussing the CANES installation on the USS Milius, visit: https://www.facebook.com/PEOC4I#!/photo.php?v=582351821775816.
PEO C4I - http://www.public.navy.mil/spawar/PEOC4I/