Navy survives Isabel largely unscathed

The operations team for the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet portal program saw relatively little damage to their network from Hurricane Isabel, even though the critical global network operations center and help desk were located in Norfolk, Va., right in the hurricane's path.

The Navy lost connectivity at 32 sites from North Carolina to Maryland. The loss in connectivity had to do with flooding and the temporary loss of power, but there were no gaps in service, NMCI officials said.

Early last week, seven sites were still down.

Tom Lerach, director of operations for NMCI for lead contractor EDS Corp., said NMCI has three network operations centers'in Norfolk, San Diego and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Lerach said officials decided eight to 12 hours before the hurricane to reroute network traffic and help desk support calls from Norfolk to San Diego. Transferring network traffic and help desk calls prevented a disruption in service in Norfolk, he said.

'We sailed right through this thing,' he said. 'The physical damage was all over but nothing significant to our mission.'

In Norfolk, Lerach said, base locations shut down their power to protect the power grid. So the NMCI network operations center ran on two generators for a while to support workers. The center also used a videoconferencing line to stay in touch with the two other centers and was prepared to use a satellite phone system in the event that Isabel affected telephone lines.

'We took all the mission-critical users and their e-mail and moved them so they would not be impacted,' said Dana Harding, operations manager for the Norfolk center. Harding said the Navy also moved its East Coast server farm for NMCI to Millington, Tenn.

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