The IT guy is most popular sailor on board

The IT guy is most popular sailor on board

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

ABOARD THE USS JOHN C. STENNIS'Disbursement clerks, post officers and reactor officers used to be the most popular personnel on Navy ships, but with universal e-mail access, officers such as Lt. Everett Hayes have re-placed them.

'Just about everyone on this ship knows who I am, but they probably don't know who the reactor officer is,' said Hayes, an information systems maintenance officer aboard the 4-year-old aircraft carrier. 'I give them e-mail and Internet access.'

The Stennis sailed along thecoast of Southern California during a Joint Task Force exercise late last month. When it begins its six-month deployment next month, it will be the first Navy ship to deploy with a full complement of Information Technology for the 21st Century equipment, featuring an asynchronous transfer mode network and PCs running Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0.

Navy officials said the IT-21 equipment will improve the service's warfighting capabilities. For instance, using the new network of shipboard PCs and servers, commanders can issue operations orders within 90 minutes, said Lt. David Oates, a Navy spokesman. That process used to take about 48 hours. Commanders can also send the same message to many users.

But besides making commanders' jobs easier, Navy officials hope to improve sailor morale and re-enlistment rates by giving all sailors e-mail access.

'The sailors will be away for 10 months by the time they get back in July,' Oates said. 'If a sailor is able to know that everything's fine at home, then he can focus on the mission.'

Previously, sailors of midlevel and higher rank had individual e-mail access through the Non-Classified IP Router Network; junior personnel had to share accounts.

The Stennis did experience a hiccup after e-mail access was extended in mid-November. NIPRnet access slowed to a crawl for two days after several users circulated e-mail messages with large attachments to other sailors, Hayes said. He attributed the problem to a lack of user education and said combat systems personnel have since restricted the size of unclassified e-mail attachments that Stennis users can send.

'It was a management issue on our part,' said Hayes, who joined the Navy in 1979 and plans to serve 10 more years.

For NIPRnet access, the Stennis has eight Compaq ProLiant servers and more than 1,000 Dell OptiPlex Gxi PCs, all running NT. For Unix applications, the ship has seven Hewlett-Packard Co. servers running HP-UX. The Stennis has 450 HP Vectra systems for Secret IP Router Network access.

The shift to the IT-21 gear let the ship reduce its server load. Previously, it had 17 120-MHz Pentium servers. The eight ProLiant servers are dual 400-MHz Pentium III machines with 33G hard drives, 512K of Level 2 cache and RAID 5 storage. To provide the extensive e-mail access, the Stennis' IT crew added 200 PCs to the unclassified network.

The network also includes two Cisco 4500 routers from Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., and 10 switches from Xylan Corp. of Calabasas, Calif., that have OC-3 lines to the servers and OC-12.

'There are no hubs because it's all switched to the desktop PCs,' said Chief Petty Officer Rick Orozco, the carrier's lead IT petty officer. 'It's the cat's meow. You have your own dedicated pipe: 10 Mbps.'

Orozco said the proliferation of computers during the past 20 years in the Navy has amazed him. There used to be one computer for 50 users in a department. Now some users have two computers, he said.

The ship's commander, Capt. Richard K. Gallagher, for instance, has a Dell OptiPlex Gxi for NIPRnet access and an HP Vectra VE for SIPRnet access.

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