Pacific Fleet takes a Y2K test

After year 2000 readiness tests of several hundred mission-critical shipboard systems,
officials of the Navy’s Pacific Fleet reported significant progress. But the service
will keep working until late this year testing and fixing some systems.


From Feb. 19 through March 6, the Pacific Fleet tested the USS Constellation’s
systems during an at-sea exercise off the Southern California coast. Officials reported
only four systems of 150 failed in the Battle Group Systems Integration Test.


The Constellation’s sailors set system clocks to the stroke of midnight Feb. 28,
2000, said Cmdr. Kevin F. Spalding, deputy program manager for year 2000 at the Space and
Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego.


During a previous systems inventory, Pacific Fleet officials had found less than 5
percent of the systems were date-sensitive, said Lt. Flex Plexico, a fleet spokesman in
Hawaii. “Most of the engineering systems are not date-sensitive,” he said.


During the recent test, three systems had display problems that showed the wrong year,
although the equipment continued to function properly, said Capt. Cliff Szafran, who works
in the Y2K Project at the Navy’s Chief Information Office.


The computer-generated log of the aircraft carrier’s Inmarsat commercial satellite
telephone system listed call times as occurring in 1900, but sailors were still able to
make satellite phone calls, Plexico said. A fourth system, which distributes official Navy
radio messages through the ship’s LAN, worked only in manual mode, Szafran said.


During the exercise, a sailor saved the messages on a disk and uploaded them to a
networked computer to send the messages over the LAN, said Capt. Tim Traverso, who
oversees the Pacific Fleet’s Year 2000 Program. Fleet officials are installing new
software to correct the problem.


The exercise gave the Constellation’s crew a chance to test contingency plans, an
important element of readiness, fleet officials said.


The test ranges at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division were pronounced ready
after the March 1 interoperability tests, which involved electronic, land and sea combat
ranges, according to the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, Calif.


The USS Stethem destroyer carried out a two-day cruise test in February. The
ship’s command, control, information, damage control, weapons, propulsion and
auxiliary systems are all run via computer interfaces.


In the Stethem’s combat information center, a watch team designed a virtual battle
scenario with the Aegis combat training system. The Stethem crew simulated firing weapons
on a date in 2000.


Although the weapons system uses a highly integrated computer network, officials
reported no glitches during the cruise test.


The USS Kinkaid’s crew performed a Feb. 17 readiness test involving 15 systems in
a fleet combat scenario. Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Paddock, the ship’s
electronics material officer and year 2000 coordinator, said all mission-critical systems
are ready. He said technicians are training at least two or three hours each day to
troubleshoot and upgrade software.


The Pacific Fleet will upgrade and test all systems by the end of September, fleet
officials said.


“We’re filling up the entire year with Y2K testing,” Szafran said. For
security reasons, he would not state when specific battle groups will test at sea.


SPAWAR officials consider 103 of their systems mission-critical and the remaining 64 as
mission-support systems, Spalding said.


Spalding said he and his colleagues use as many as 30 networked PCs running Microsoft
Windows NT Workstation 4.0 over an asynchronous transfer mode backbone. They keep in touch
with officials via three videoconferencing sites.


SPAWAR has completely fixed, tested and redeployed 84 of its 167 programs, Spalding
said. The command has completed tests and certified another 51 systems as ready, and they
are “on their way to being installed,” he said. Although the Navy, like the rest
of the Defense Department, missed the government’s March readiness deadline, the
service has made 96 percent of its mission-critical systems ready, according to a service
report.


Despite the delay, Navy officials said they are still confident there will be no major
disruption in operations after Jan. 1.


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