Transport becomes an IT lab
- By Gregory Slabodkin
- Jan 26, 1998
The Coronado has a unique shipboard environment for testing computers, communications
and other information technologies, Navy officers said.
As the test bed for the Joint Maritime Command Information System '98 program, the
Coronado pioneered the Navy's use of Pentium PCs running Microsoft Windows NT for the
service's Information Technology for the 21st Century initiative.
Through JMCIS '98, the Navy is migrating its existing C2 system from Unix servers and
client workstations to a PC environment for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications.
The original JMCIS supports only tactical information, but JMCIS '98 will permit World
Wide Web browsing of tactical and nontactical data from a single PC.
The Coronado is testing the first-run version of JMCIS '98. Navy carriers, C2 and
amphibious ships are slated to begin using the system by the end of next year.
Coronado is the C2 ship for the commander of the Third Fleet in the eastern Pacific.
The Third Fleet protects the western sea approaches to the United States and provides
initial on-the-scene C2.
The Coronado had been an amphibious transport dock ship that the Navy used to land
Marines and their equipment during assaults. But as part of the ship's conversion to a C2
ship, the stern gate was welded shut, which gave the ship the space it needed for the lab.
The Third Fleet has renovated the Coronado to accommodate more than 300 PCs. The
Coronado's battle lab is designed to take advantage of the additional space as well as
command, control, communications, computers and intelligence upgrades.
The new C4I systems enhance the Third Fleet's ability to execute missions as the
Pacific theater's joint task force commander. The systems will let the JTF commander
operate with other Pacific commands that might be involved in a regional crisis, Navy
Coronado can accommodate commanders from all four military services, including a JTF
commander, an air component commander, a ground force commander and a joint special
operations task force commander. The ship's C4I upgrades help improve the efficiency of
JTF mission planning by using automated support and decision tools.
Now the Third Fleet is renovating the fourth, fifth and sixth decks to convert excess
space into a reconfigurable area so that Navy systems organizations can test emerging
Infrastructure improvements include an air conditioning and recirculation system,
electrical power and a LAN.
Users will be able to isolate areas on the LAN for tests and experiments. The test LAN
will be able to tap into the Coronado's warfighting LAN to allow new technologies to
complement existing shipboard systems.
The first series of tests to use the new areas will be a three-year Advanced Concept
Technology Demonstration sponsored by Pacific Command and known as the Extending the
Littoral Battlespace ACTD. The ELB-ACTD will use the sixth deck and install an enhanced
command operations center prototype.
The ACTD will better track sailors and materiel theaterwide during battle. The Navy
will also study the use of integrated sensors and remote fire-control and targeting
Coronado returned to its home port of San Diego in November after a 10-week deployment
across the Pacific that included visits to Hawaii, Japan, Korea and Canada.
With the Third Fleet's commander, Vice Adm. Herb Browne, aboard, the Coronado led Fleet
Battle Experiment Bravo (FBEB) last August and September along the Hawaiian coast.
Other ships that participated in the experiment were the USS Nimitz and USS
Constellation carrier battle groups, the USS Peleliu amphibious ready group and the 13th
Marine Expeditionary Unit on the ground in Oahu. The month-long experiment was the second
in a series to test new warfighting applications.
FBEB demonstrated the use of PCs, digital cameras and Global Positioning System
receivers in sensor-to-shooter applications. The two-part experiment used the Navy's Ring
of Fire, a Naval surface fire support battle LAN that the service had tested during the
Third Fleet's Battle Experiment Alfa last March.
The Ring of Fire linked the Coronado's computers in a network that received calls for
fire support, identified and plotted targets, assigned weapons to the targets and
designated aircraft to kill the targets.
The experiment began with Navy Seals at China Lake Air Weapons Center, Calif.,
photographing a bridge with a commercial digital camera and transmitting the image via
satellite to a classified Navy Web site. Targeting teams on the Coronado then downloaded
the image to the shipboard Rapid Targeting System.
Ring of Fire operators aboard the Coronado combined the photograph from China Lake with
NRO imagery and transmitted them to an F/A-18 aircraft which bombed the bridge using an
electronic road map to the target appearing on the cockpit display.
After the bridge was bombed, the Seals transmitted a photo of the target to analysts
aboard the Coronado for damage assessment.
During the Rim of the Pacific '98 maritime exercise to be held in July and August in
Hawaii, the Coronado will host combined JTF commanders. The Coalition WAN (CWAN),
developed by the Defense Information Systems Agency for this year's Joint Warrior
Interoperability Demonstration, will link U.S. and allied forces.
Because DOD's Secret IP Router Network is a U.S.-only system, CWAN solves the problem
of interoperability and connectivity with the United States' allies. The high-speed,
high-capacity communications network supports real-time collaborative planning.