PCs let crew of USS Yorktown run a tight ship
- By Bill Murray
- Oct 13, 1997
The Yorktown, part of the Atlantic Fleet's Naval Surface Force, has 30 dual 200-MHz
Pentium Pros from Intergraph Corp. of Huntsville, Ala., that run the bridge and monitor
damage control, engineering and maintenance.
The ruggedized PCs run Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 in 256M of RAM and have 4G
hard drives. They link to a fiber-optic Windows NT 4.0 LAN with an Intergraph Pentium Pro
The Yorktown complies with the Navy's Information Technology for the 21st Century plan,
which specifies a 200-MHz Pentium Pro with 64M RAM as the preferred minimum desktop
A separate, administrative LAN connects more than 80 PCs running Windows 3.1 and
Microsoft Office for functions such as e-mail.
At any of the rugged PCs, sailors can check on status and damage control in situations
such as fire or flooding, said Operation Specialist 1st Class Anthony Barnes, who works in
the ship's Combat Information Center.
The ship had 1960s-era Litton control consoles, said 2nd Class Petty Officer Cleveland
C. Daniels, a gas turbo systems electrician. Through the Navy's Smart Ship project, the
Yorktown began installing the NT 4.0 network in October 1996. The ship's crew completed
software upgrades early this year.
Then the Yorktown went out on a five-month Caribbean counternarcotics mission.
The Navy paid $8 million for the Intergraph Pentium Pros through the Navy's
Computer-Aided Design-2 contracts. It also bought APC Smart-UPS 1400 and 2200
uninterruptible power systems from American Power Conversion Corp. of West Kingston, R.I.
Crew members said they needed minimal training to use the systems' touch-screen
"I was basically a computer idiot who knew how to use WordPerfect 5.1," said
gas turbine systems technician Tracy James. "The young guys who came on board at 18
or 19 [years old] taught me how to use NT 4.0, and I taught them about engineering."
Quartermaster 1st Class Michael Ziegler said he only needed a couple of hours to learn
how to handle the ship's bridge watch.
"The people who have been coming on our ship have been pointing and clicking since
they were 8, and they know Windows," said Lt. Mark Mears, the ship's training
In the past, Ziegler and his colleagues on bridge watch used "three huge status
boards. A lot of hours went into updating the information," he said. Plus, they spent
time getting information over the telephone. By using the NT system, the ship's brass has
cut the number of sailors on bridge watch from 13 to three.
Besides the Integrated Bridge System, the rugged Pentium Pros run the Integrated
Condition Assessment System, Standard Machinery Control System, Voyage Management System
and Damage Control System.
Sailors using the voyage system can guide the ship by trackball at prescribed times.
Cmdr. Eric L. Sweigard, the ship's captain, said the Smart Ship Program will help the
Navy operate with fewer personnel and give sailors better situational awareness.
From 350 enlisted personnel, the Yorktown eventually will trim to 306 the number of
sailors who can focus less on maintenance and repairs and more on battle preparation, he
Navy Secretary John H. Dalton gave the ship a grade of excellent after a Sept. 24 tour
at Annapolis, Md. Navy officials will deploy Smart Ship technologies to 27
Ticonderoga-class cruisers and 25 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. Aircraft carriers and
frigates may follow, Navy officials said.