USS John S McCain collides with merchant ship

Do you mean that the captain of a modern naval surface ship isn't necessarily up on the bridge, where he/she can see what's actually happening with his/her own eyes?
Not at Action Stations, no.
Why be using the Mk One Eyeball on the bridge when, in the ops room, the displays will be showing contacts over the horizon, both surface and air, and heaps of other stuff not suitable for 'ere.
 

mcphee1948

War Hero
Not at Action Stations, no.
Why be using the Mk One Eyeball on the bridge when, in the ops room, the displays will be showing contacts over the horizon, both surface and air, and heaps of other stuff not suitable for 'ere.
Hm . What was the name of that US warship which shot down an Iranian civil airliner because the ship's below-deck contact "displays" showed it as an incoming enemy attack-aircraft?
 

mcphee1948

War Hero
Do you mean that the captain of a modern naval surface ship isn't necessarily up on the bridge, where he/she can see what's actually happening with his/her own eyes?

But I suppose, thinking about it, that the commander of a submarine is in somewhat the same situation.

That leads me, as a civilian, to pose this perhaps stupid question.

Who, on a submarine, gets to look through the periscope - is it only the sub's captain, or can another officer take a look?
On older subs, a junior officer will keep watch through the periscope, until something interesting appears. On newer subs, the 'periscope' is actually a TV camera on a pole, and is controlled by the same bunch of junior officers, but can be viewed by anyone within sight of one of the screens the picture is displayed on.
 

bob231

War Hero
Especially when the system crashes and needs to reboot. Or just dies full stop. What about total loss of electrical power...?
There are usually uninterruptable power supplies or battery back-ups for essential control systems. There have to be: even for the relatively agricultural machinery in a Type 23, the throttles and the steering both rely on electronic control circuits. There are manual fallbacks but these are designed as a "get you home" or to provide some functionality after battle damage rather than as a routine alternative.

Though I do still rather like the way the RN entrusts the manual throttle for a Spey jet engine to the equivalent of a private soldier. And exercises it most weeks!
 
He could. That then means he needs to divide his attention between directing the Ship and the actual process of driving it. For engine orders - especially with modern throttles linked to the Bridge - this is acceptable, but holding the Ship's head steady against conflicting efforts of wind and tide is something that requires concentration. This is why pointing the Ship is normally delegated to the Officer of the Watch and actually making the course adjustments is delegated further (to the rating at the wheel).

This only gets worse when the Captain is also attempting to fight the Ship!

In the past*, engine orders had to be passed to the engine room because remote control of the machinery used to propel the Ship wasn't possible. This isn't so much the case these days.

Also, although there is an analogue to driving a car, consider the ships move much more slowly and in less congested spaces. Closest Point of Advance - i.e. the nearest you will get to another ship - is still measured by us in cables, increments of 200 yards at a time.

*Note that the past includes Type 23s, to make them cheaper
You lot would love the setup on an Astute sub. Steering and depth are controlled using a trackball and keypad operated by the steerer's right hand, with the display on a touchscreen where the haptic interface has been disabled, whilst their left hand rests next to a joystick ready to take control from the computer-aided steering at the push of a button. He (or she) also uses the keypad to input the throttle demands, which are relayed to another operator in a different compartment who then operates the stick that operates the throttles.
 
So they have touch screens instead of wheels and telegraphs? A recipe for disaster if ever there was one.

Just imagine trying to drive your car with a touch screen instead of a steering wheel and accelerator.
The ”need“ to move to touch screens doesn’t remove wheels and throttles. Normally it leaves wheels and throttles but gives a secondary operating option of the touch screens. My understanding of this incident is that an error was made when moving to operate the throttles via touchscreen separately from the wheel. The decision to do so was questionable as the rationale was deemed wrong.
The move to touchscreens is almost certainly driven by the industry rather than the USN. Modern commercial ships are very high tech on the bridge in order to allow minimal manning. This means that navies have two options. Follow the high tech route that everyone else is following, more cheaply, or try to stay with what they’ve always had at huge cost because you are asking for bespoke units. This has an even bigger cost downstream when you want to keep things working for 30 plus years.
The big error here was bringing in new high tech but not backing it up with proper training at all levels. The operators should know this stuff like second nature but in this case they didn’t, from the Captain down. The training and oversight regime throughout the USN and especially at the Fleet in question was found wanting and unfortunately resulted in multiple deaths.
 

bob231

War Hero
The move to touchscreens is almost certainly driven by the industry rather than the USN. Modern commercial ships are very high tech on the bridge in order to allow minimal manning. This means that navies have two options. Follow the high tech route that everyone else is following, more cheaply, or try to stay with what they’ve always had at huge cost because you are asking for bespoke units. This has an even bigger cost downstream when you want to keep things working for 30 plus years.
This makes superficial sense to me but seems like an area where warships genuinely should look different to merchant vessels. The added complexity (significant) and advantage derived (which appears minimal) probably don't add enough to the cost to justify when set against the eye-bleedingly expensive weapons and particularly sensors.

That should be set against an operating envelope that may routinely involve having the ship steered by hand, either due to complex shipping situation or small ship and bad weather. I could see it for carriers or LPDs - getting into merchantmen size - but not frigates, destroyers or smaller.

ETA: from a practical standpoint, too, this is an analogue control that can immediately be fed into a digital system, producing a coarse demand signal to adjust heavy and relatively imprecise machinery. This is not complex stuff to manufacture: at the moment, I suspect the mechanical part of a handwheel and throttle is dearer than the electronic part.
 
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mcphee1948

War Hero
On older subs, a junior officer will keep watch through the periscope, until something interesting appears. On newer subs, the 'periscope' is actually a TV camera on a pole, and is controlled by the same bunch of junior officers, but can be viewed by anyone within sight of one of the screens the picture is displayed on.
Thanks Joe. But your reference to a "TV camera" and a "picture" "displayed" on "screens" "controlled by junior officers" does give me slight misgivings. It seems to open the door to Vincennes-type misinterpretations.

I'd rather that the periscope was an actual physical tube, with proper 6X -12X glass lenses, shoved up and down by the captain him/herself. Just to be on the safe side.
 
This makes superficial sense to me but seems like an area where warships genuinely should look different to merchant vessels. The added complexity (significant) and advantage derived (which appears minimal) probably don't add enough to the cost to justify when set against the eye-bleedingly expensive weapons and particularly sensors.

That should be set against an operating envelope that may routinely involve having the ship steered by hand, either due to complex shipping situation or small ship and bad weather. I could see it for carriers or LPDs - getting into merchantmen size - but not frigates, destroyers or smaller.
The issue is that all those consoles are effectively PLC controlled now. You have to have some form of human/computer interface and doing some analogue lash up that is recognisable and comfortable is just not realistic. If you follow the link in the BBC article to the article describing this change you can see that the digital system has a wheel and has throttles. They don’t routinely steer or power the ship by the GUI. The error in this incident was that the helmsman felt overloaded in a busy seaway, operating the wheel and throttles together. The intelligent response would be to get someone else to do the throttles, on the actual levers, beside the helmsman on the wheel. Instead the CO decided to have someone operate the throttles on a separate touch screen. The process of changing over to the throttles on the screen was screwed up by the team and resulted in the collision.
This decision to revert back to what the ABs had previously is a baby bath water situation which I predict the USN will rue once the cost of keeping that legacy kit operating is discovered.
 
Thanks Joe. But your reference to a "TV camera" and a "picture" "displayed" on "screens" "controlled by junior officers" does give me slight misgivings. It seems to open the door to Vincennes-type misinterpretations.

I'd rather that the periscope was an actual physical tube, with proper 6X -12X glass lenses, shoved up and down by the captain him/herself. Just to be on the safe side.
Quite the opposite. Catch a quick glimpse of something on a periscope, and you need to rely entirely on what is remembered about that glimpse. Catch the same glimpse on a camera, and you can rewind and freeze-frame, study the image, and show it to other more experienced people.
 

mcphee1948

War Hero
Quite the opposite. Catch a quick glimpse of something on a periscope, and you need to rely entirely on what is remembered about that glimpse. Catch the same glimpse on a camera, and you can rewind and freeze-frame, study the image, and show it to other more experienced people.
Yes, if the delicate circuits in the electronic camera haven't had a fit and crashed, so it won't show anything.

An optical periscope with glass lenses won't crash. It might get a bit misted up, but you can still see through it.









I
 
Yes, if the delicate circuits in the electronic camera haven't had a fit and crashed, so it won't show anything.

An optical periscope with glass lenses won't crash. It might get a bit misted up, but you can still see through it.
Not in the dark you can't. Unless you have the electronic gadgetry of II or IR. Oh, and if you're bobbing around without the benefit of having image stabilisation, good luck getting a decent look. Plus there's two different masts, so if the delicate circuits in one have crashed, you can simply use the other.
 
And you don't have a fûck off tube penetrating the pressure hull, allowing you to displace the control room from where the masts pop up...
 

offog

LE
Yes, if the delicate circuits in the electronic camera haven't had a fit and crashed, so it won't show anything.

An optical periscope with glass lenses won't crash. It might get a bit misted up, but you can still see through it.









I
How often does a sub use its periscope?

Many years ago they did a program on the perishers course. Onleaving harbour the student in charge (USN exchange) looked through the periscope and saw a fishing boat and immediately ordered the Boat to dive. This order was countermanded by the DS who ordered the boat to surface. RN SOP when around fishing boats to to be visible so that they don't catch the nets and drag a fishing boat under.

The view from the glass pericope is limited to the Mk1 eyeball but a camera can give you thermal as well as magnification and a picture. Having said that the days of targeting via the periscope are long gone and it wouldn't surprise me if ones they are in deep water they never use it till returning to port.

As to driving the ship by wire we now do that with aircrafts and have done for some time. It can go wrong, see 737 but that was more to do with poor design stopping the pilot doing their job and putting an item in the control system that they could not override simply.
 

load_fin

War Hero
As to driving the ship by wire we now do that with aircrafts and have done for some time. It can go wrong, see 737 but that was more to do with poor design stopping the pilot doing their job and putting an item in the control system that they could not override simply.
But when the aircraft is not flying itself, the pilot's interface with the fly-by-wire system is still via a stick, pedals and levers, not a touchscreen.
 
Is that why Microsoft keep bringing out new editions of Windows?

But this constant innovation doesn't seem to apply so much to military equipment.

I mean how many genuinely new military planes, or tanks, or ships, have been introduced in the last, say, 10 years?
Quiet. I'm trying to audit these Pilums.
 
Hm . What was the name of that US warship which shot down an Iranian civil airliner because the ship's below-deck contact "displays" showed it as an incoming enemy attack-aircraft?
The crew decided it was an attacking aircraft is closer to the mark I believe.
 

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