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Future Ships Classes Will Need Hands-On Trainers Like LCS, DDG-1000 Systems

Lt. Caroline Stanton, an instructor at the Littoral Combat Ship Training Facility aboard Naval Station Mayport, teaches Sailors how to simulate navigating an LCS as part of a tour for the annual Reserve Leadership Symposium hosted by Littoral Combat Ship Squadron (LCSRON) 2 on Jan. 26, 2018. US Navy photo.

Future classes of surface ships ought to come with advanced training systems that allow maintenance sailors to practice hands-on troubleshooting, much like the trainers for the Littoral Combat Ship and the DDG-1000, the Program Executive Officer for Ships said last week.

Rear Adm. William Galinis said at a Navy League breakfast event that the Navy’s training of sailors, and maintenance sailors in particular, has changed over the years. Going forward, he said, it would be important to promote hands-on learning over computer-based learning for certain types of personnel.

Galinis described a recent trip to Naval Station Great Lakes with Commander of Surface Forces Vice Adm. Richard Brown and Director of Surface Warfare (OPNAV N96) Rear Adm. Rob Boxall as part of a Surface Warfare Officer School Board of Visitors event.

“This particular session was on engineering training. … I’ll go back now to [retired Vice Adm. Phillip Balisle’s] report that came out in the [2010] timeframe – and he listed a number of very specific items in terms of things that kind of atrophied over time in terms of maintaining the readiness of our surface fleet, and training was one of them. And at that point the Surface Warfare Officer School Command really embarked on a path to improve the training. And where we had kind of gotten away from a lot of the schoolhouse, hands-on type training and moved to the computer-based training that you love or hate, depending on where you sit, we realized that that wasn’t the best way to probably train some of our sailors … especially when it comes to the maintenance, the troubleshooting, the repair aspect we ask our sailors to do, particularly the engineering trades.”

Galinis later told USNI News, on new ships, “one of the things that we’ve really kind of come to understand is that, especially for sailors that are maintainers that troubleshoot and repair those systems, you really need a little bit more advanced training than just a computer-based training course or reading a tech manual of some sort. That’s where that hands-on training really comes into play. So shore-based training, and we’ve really leveraged that.”

Galinis noted that the Surface Training Systems Program Office (PMS 339) manages trainers for new ship classes, including the LCS and Zumwalt-class destroyer (DDG-1000). For future classes of ships, he said, that organization would be involved early on and “I think that [type of trainer] will be a key component of any training strategy going forward for a new class of ship.”

The admiral added that other decisions, such as using existing hull forms for new purposes – like using the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (LPD-17) as the basis of the LX(R) dock landing ship replacement, now called LPD Flight II – would also contribute to improved training because mature training pipelines could be leveraged instead of having to start from scratch.

“Where we had put new training courses and new training opportunities for sailors on the LPD-class ship, those are easily transferable to the Flight II,” Galinis said.

  • Chesapeakeguy

    I think those ‘virtual reality’ glasses that are all the rage offer a great means for individual underway and pier side training. They don’t take up any space, so that training can be held most anywhere. They won’t handle everything, but they can handle quite a lot.

    • Ed L

      I not sure nothing beats doing it for real and putting the sweat pump factor in

      • Chesapeakeguy

        Well, the article is talking about ‘advanced training systems’. The picture above looks like a simulator. Nothing ‘real’ with them. It also talks about equipping ships with such systems, which might be a good idea, but they will take up space if the pic above is anything to go by. Of course, there is also mention of ‘hands on training’ for future ships that are not computer based. So I admit to being somewhat confused here.

  • Marc Apter

    Why are the Bridge Crews in all these pictures of training simulators only Officers? What about training where you have real Bridge Crews, and the teams are standing 3 Section Watches for say at least a week or so, and they have other work to do when not on watch, so they don’t get much sleep. Now that would be realistic.

    • USNVO

      Because, if you read the caption, it was a tour, not a class. The two “students” are probably Surface Warfare Officers from the tour group. But even then, there is a petty officer second from the left in green. But it is still a tour.

      • Marc

        I was making a generic comment, not addressing the picture. Thoughts on my generic comment?

        • USNVO

          Well, first the picture and the story have nothing to do with each other.

          What the picture shows is an LCS simulator and what the discussion is about is maintenance trainers. Maintenance trainers are usually either a computer simulation where you can troubleshoot, tag out, use test equipment, replace parts, etc on a computer and see what happens on the real equipment. It is a great support for initial training and especially proficiency training. The second thing is usually the actual system that students can physically do all the same things they can do on the ship. It is not as useful in some respects since it can be broken, is expensive to fix, electrical safety, limited use, etc, but is very important for use as final verification of skills learned.

          As for all officers, for whatever reason, most of the pictures are invariably from SWOS, probably because they have better PAOs. So all officers since it is individual training. Even then, it is hard to tell from this picture of the LCS since the consoles for the enlisted watchstanders are located offscreen to the right on the picture.

          Now, for simulating being underway, with tired crews, other distractions, boredom, etc, there are three very compelling reasons.
          1. It most cases, the simulator it for individual training. Wasting a week making everyone tired, besides ruining quality of life, is great but you wasted an entire week of time for instructors and students when you could have repeated critical skills Hundreds of times with multiple students.
          2. Even with team training, you miss hundreds of training opportunities. Why not do dozens of evolutions instead of simulating weeks of everything being normal? Think about simulator training for aircraft, does it make sense to simulate flying straight and level on autopilot for hours? Or do you go straight to take offs and landings, casualty procedures, upset training, and such? Simulators are cheaper but they aren’t free, nor is people’s time.
          3. It doesn’t achieve the training objective. The purpose is to accelerate your learning in the real world, not duplicate it. So making a dozen approaches on the oiler with different problems and various conditions is vastly better than doing it once. Beyond that, you want the students to assimilate what you are teaching them and that works better when they are alert and awake and get multiple repetitions at the evolutions instead of being bored.

          Your idea may simulate reality but it would be incredibly expensive, serve no real training purpose, and cost a fortune. All to prove that things are harder when you are tired. Not seeing the value in that.

  • Duane

    Simulators are very useful for training in unusual emergency scenarios where you would never expose a real ship to risk … such as simulating near collisions. But for training on normal operations, or other emergencies that can be simulated without endangering the ship, the crew, or the equipment, nothing beats training on the actual equipment.

    When Rickover elected to set up multiple land based nuke plant prototype plants on which all nuke operators must train and qualify before going to the fleet, that made a huge contribution to the great safety record of US Navy nuke operations for the last 6+ decades.

    • Curtis Conway

      Admiral Hyman G. Rickover made sure his troops would always be ready for their jobs because you cannot make a mistake in that environment and long endure, and if one of a nuclear subs had a catastrophic accident, it is very possible it could be a disaster for the planet, not just the mission.

      • Duane

        Generally speaking, a nuke submarine is inherently protected from large scale reactor meltdowns that would release lots of radioactive contamination to the environment a la Chernoble. Because in melt down scenario, the reactor compartment is already submerged entirely in cooling water, unlike most land based reactors. Even the old Soviet boats that were poorly designed and operated and that suffered catastrophic damage such as K19 still did not create major environmental impacts.

        But environmental risks aside, a defective or badly operated US nuke boat could still be a catastrophe for the crew
        and its mission, and for the Navy nuke program. Adm. Rickover always understood that the public and Congress would quickly end the nuke propulsion program if it were perceived as unsafe. Consequently safety was always a first priority.

        Indeed, with respect to the first nuke boat sunk, the Thresher, it was perceived by many in the nuke sub fleet that reactor safety was even over-emphasized prior to Thresher. The procedure in those days was to shut the main steam stops in the event of a reactor scram (sudden shutdown), in order to prevent excessive primary coolant loop cooldown which thermally stresses the steel reactor vessel. The problem with shutting the MSSVs on a scram is it deprives a sub of propulsion which may well be necessary to save the ship. When the Thresher began to flood, it caused a reactor scram, the MSSVs according to procedure were shut, the Thresher lost propulsion which was needed to drive the ship upwards when the main ballast tank blow system failed to operate. So she sank and imploded.

        As we sub sailors used to say post-Thresher, “What good is it to have a fully protected reactor plant sitting on the bottom of the ocean, surrounded by the wreckage of a boat?”

        After Thresher, NR changed the reactor scram response procedure to leave the MSSVs open as required for ship’s safety.

        • Curtis Conway

          So, its a good thing having so many Russian Nuc Boats at the bottom in the Northern latitudes where they scuttled them?

    • Lazarus

      Having several LCS as training and surge units in the US actually supports greater training and proficiency for LCS crews above that for DDG’s and other conventional ships.

      • Curtis Conway

        The DDG-51 Training Program traces its roots and success back to the early ’90s. The LCS has yet to demonstrate for any period of time, the same.

  • Pete Novick

    In the picture that accompanies this article are officers learning how to manage machines that process aspects of the real world for presentation and decision making. The management of those machines tens to be a central tendency. Over time, the reality presented by the processed video may tend to crowd out other sources and perspectives, and thus become the preferred source. It looks really cool, but it always reminds me of that classic line:

    “Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”

    – Chico Marx

    • Curtis Conway

      Training artificialities are nothing new. However, the training scenarios can be modified. I am not suggesting that every scenario should end in a ‘Kobayashi Maru’ exercise, but I am suggesting that that tough nut is a part of the curriculum. NOTHING will ever replace the actual experience of Command on the Bridge during combat, or transiting the Malacca Strait. We used to get our young people ready for such things in their Intern Experiences. Now we have a significant number of people who just can’t handle the pressure.

      The US Navy used to have the toughest entry screening and training of all the services. Then some McNamara thinking people decided we should all be the same. Working out well isn’t it!?

      • Pete Novick

        Having driven up an down Tokyo Wan and Uraga Suido more times than I can remember, made the turn west to slip past Oshima via the voluntary traffic separation scheme, driven thru the Inland Sea to transit under the Shimonoseki Bridge around midnight to knock 2 days off the transit from Yokosuka to Chinhae, It just plain boggles the mind, that on a clear night with calm seas and light and variable winds….

        Guess the Navy is moving up though. The OOD and JOOD on watch aboard USS Evans only lost lineal numbers as punishment for crossing the bow of HMAS Melbourne.

  • Curtis Conway

    Let us consider the proposal, and the consequences there of: “Future classes of surface ships ought to come with advanced training systems that allow maintenance sailors to practice hands-on troubleshooting…” . . . common equipment sets across multiple platforms streamlines operations and maintenance training, is much more efficient, and is a primary facilitator of higher readiness rates. Imagine that!

    We used to do this. One school and many platforms. Now we can’t even get the decision makers to properly prioritize maintenance over displacement. An extra 100 tons on a vessel that weighs 100,000 tons is minuscule compared to being able to isolate a Catapult for maintenance (which happens often enough) to take the higher priority. The alternative is to jeopardize the safety of the CSG (no fixed wing air services due to a single CAT casualty), potential loss of the platform and crew, not to speak of the losing the mission. How does that serve the country? Clear thinking here gentlemen has become a rarity!

    What has our leadership been thinking since the late 1980s?

  • proudrino

    ‘Galinis later told USNI News, on new ships, “one of the things that we’ve really kind of come to understand is that, especially for sailors that are maintainers that troubleshoot and repair those systems, you really need a little bit more advanced training than just a computer-based training course or reading a tech manual of some sort. ‘

    With all due respect to Rear Adm. Galinis, this isn’t a new revelation. The Fleet had this “understanding” decades ago. Then a bunch of bean counting flags decided that the investment in training could be replaced with tech manuals and a computer. We are coming back to an old idea.

    • Curtis Conway

      Just like removing USS Neversail or USS Recruit (TDE-1, later TFFG-1) from Boot Camp, which is what this is all about! No replacement for hands on. Once aboard ship, other priorities take over, and the fundamentals fall through the crack.

      • USNVO

        I take it you haven’t been to Great Lakes recently?

        Are you talking about something like this?

        “…the USS Trayer, a 2/3-scale, 210-foot long mockup of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer enclosed within a 90,000-gallon pool in a 157,000-square-foot building on board RTC. The trainer uses Hollywood-style special effects to create challenging and realistic training scenarios. More than 5,000 pieces used aboard USS Trayer are donated from decommissioned ships.”

        Does that work for you?

        • Curtis Conway

          I’m ancient. Went to bootcamp at San Diego, then pushed four companies as a Blue Roper. USS Neversail was the first Damage Control training device. Fire Fighting Training, outside, and inside the concrete ship in the big bldg, then the DC floating tub, was our experience. I had heard from several of my bootcamp recipients that they never went aboard USS Neversail, and in the Reserves I was not aboard ship most of the time, so it didn’t bother me so much. Reserve Augments are rarely on a DC team, unless it’s your space and rating. However, everyone did F/F requal all the time.

          conducting F/F training for civilians we often use real agent and an open fire in a portable pit. Our AFFF is Ivory Joy soap at 96% (water) to 4% (soap), and it works fine until you are doing jobs that must persist (thick hot steel).

          Primary DC & F/F has to be EVERYBODY’S business. The Navy tried to just handle it with the DC rating, and when you watch the USS Forrestal film, you figure out right off the bat why that will not always work. In the middle of the ocean on a burning ship EVERYBODY is potential fish food, and have a vested interest in the DC disciplines. Plan for the worse and hope for the best. Those who lack discipline, and will trade peoples lives for $$$, will call you a platitude speaker, then save the money . . . that goes where?

  • Curtis Conway

    When training we emulate, stimulate, or simulate, sometimes in a progression. One has to determine at what level the required training must take place, and at what fidelity that level is desired/required. Once determined, and the resident level of fidelity is reached, there are still virtual elements that are an artificiality. Nothing will ever replace hands on, and that is why we crawl before we walk, and walk before we run, and run before we fly, which is what we want the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines able to do . . . fly with it.

  • Curtis Conway

    The most disturbing revelation in your long winded and very accurate response, was the fact that the function has infested decision making across the board, from training to operations, to Logistical support. The LCS program is a case in point and the Poster Child of this malady. Even the Blue/Gold Crew concept for FFG(X) in the face of SECDEF’s new employment rotation is another case in point. The long employments were because of lack of platforms (too small a navy), too many Geographic Combat Commander tasks, and raided maintenance budgets combined with long employments wearing things out that were not supported appropriately in the first place. As we shrunk the fleet, we dispersed how, and what with, we did things . . . HUHH?! No . . . you have to get as common as possible to maximize on operation & maintenance training, and logistical support. I think the MT30 is the greatest thing since sliced bread. However, how many are in the US Navy? How much more powerful are they over the LM2500, and have we done everything possible to squeeze more efficiency, longevity, and maintainability out of it? I don’t think so.

  • vetww2

    You have to be kidding. Both of those ship types are unsuitable for any mission (maybe except minesweeping). What are you going to train them for? Man (or Woman) the rail, clean the bilges, all of the PC directives? PRAY FOR PEACE!!