Navy eyes all-electronic maps

Working toward the goal of using maps that are exclusively electronic, the Navy is
preparing to install CD-ROM jukeboxes and storage management software on 115 ships.


The jukeboxes will run Fire Series management software from Luminex Software Inc. of
Riverside, Calif., and will store more than 200 CDs of maps aboard each ship.


On the CDs are vector-formatted National Imagery and Mapping Agency digital nautical
charts, said Peter Shaw, lead developer for the Navigation Sensor System Interface at the
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego.


Raster format yields a little more data than a paper map, but vector format supplies
in-depth data from underlying databases, said Michael Ferguson, Unix systems engineer for
NAVSSI at SPAWAR.


Sailors can find out about buoys, depth, rocks, sandbars, shipping lanes, shipwrecks
and other navigational elements from the same map, he said.


They can determine the level of detail they need, and they also can see elevation and
digital terrain data, he said.


The sailors will access the CD maps at their Hewlett-Packard Co. workstations, acquired
through a Tactical Advanced Computer-4 buy.


The server is an HP 9000/755 running HP-UX 10.20, Shaw said.


The TAC-4 workstations currently use Navy-developed proprietary navigational software,
but SPAWAR wants to replace it with a Coast Guard maritime mapping tool that will comply
with the Defense Information Infrastructure and Global Command and Control System
specifications, Shaw said.


The shipboard rollout could take as long as four years because of ships’
schedules, year 2000-readiness issues, and the need to wait until ship networks and other
systems are compatible with DII’s Common Operating Environment, he said.


Thirty Aegis-class destroyers have the most immediate need for the maps and will get
the first NAVSSI jukebox systems. Aircraft carriers, cruisers and other ship classes will
follow, he said.


The Luminex Fire Series software starts at $9,200 for one license.


Its ability to distribute data from a central point on a ship using commercial products
was important in NAVSSI’s development effort, Shaw said.


SPAWAR has not yet decided which RAID storage drives to buy, Ferguson said.


To speed jukebox access, some of the mapping data will be copied onto the RAID
drives’ cache, he said.   

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