USS John S McCain collides with merchant ship

I don't disagree with the need for good training & endorsement and a CO's ability to say his or her Ship has been made unsafe to sail through trickle posting and op tempo preventing training.

However, I don't understand where you get the ruinous expense of an analogue man-machine interface. A working system (analogue demand signal, analogue-to-digital converter, PLC) is within the reach of a good A Level electronics student. For the rudder systems, it has to be done ANYWAY, since the Ship's digital systems do need to know which way the analogue rudders are pointing. I accept that Navies will probably want more than the most basic signal, but it is producing a demand signal for a system that can fundamentally tolerate quite a bit of noise.

The mechanical components needed to produce the analogue system are more complex, sure, but they simply aren't in the same ballpark as modern weaponry or sensors. Nor, for that matter, is the extra cost of buying half-decent quality and spares in triplicate likely to register against the overall cost of the Ship nor the even month-by-month operating costs.

This isn't a plea on behalf of wastefullness. It's a question of whether a warship's requirements are sufficiently different from a large merchantman to justify spending a trivial amount (set against overall cost) for a bespoke control system interfacing with a COTS digital machinery management system.
They already have an analogue wheel and throttles which feed into the digital system. Everything was going swimmingly until they started messing about in the digital system to separate steering and throttles. Going back to the old system would have prevented the incident as what they tried to do was impossible on the old system but they’d still have the problem that the QM felt overloaded steering and using throttles at the same time.
I’m not saying it’s ruinously expensive to have a bespoke system. I am saying that relatively it’s more expensive to ask the company that provides bridge systems to companies for hundreds of ships to do something totally different for your dozen or so over a decade. They need to have different production lines with different parts and designers with the different knowledge which is being used very infrequently. They are going to charge through the nose to maintain that capability, there is no drive for competition and you land up in a sole supplier situation. It’s possibly an urban RN myth but Type 42 machinery control systems had components which, toward the end of the class's life, were refurbished by a guy in a shed on the Isle of Wight because there was not enough work to keep a company interested. I believe he lived well off that work.
The yanks appear to have upgraded their bridge systems from old componentry of switches and buttons through to electronic control signals to a new system with HMI. They may not have paid sufficient attention to human factors and have a system the users don’t like. They can go back to their old systems but they will be comparatively more expensive to maintain than a new system. My opinion is that upskilling the operators would be a better option. The fact that they decided to spend the money changing the system in the first place would appear to indicate that they made a valid business case for the capital expenditure. It being the military that may not actually be the case though.
 

NSP

LE
On most survey ships the survey team are locked away below decks in a windowless pit of despair far from civilisation (but usually quite handy for the mess).

Working as the online surveyor means directing the ship to the next line, survey area or sample location using what essentially boils down to a posh satnav. Last time I sat in the hot seat I put the next coring location up on the helmsman's display and called the bridge to make best speed directly to it.

"I'm not doing that," came back from above.

"Erm, and why not, pray tell?"

"That's straight through the middle of the Ekofisk platform complex..."

Oh...

Right, best berate the processors for not firing up AutoCAD and adding the outline into the background map in the first place, then.



End to end is about 1100m, not counting the stand-alone 2/4-K to the north.
 

bob231

War Hero
They already have an analogue wheel and throttles which feed into the digital system. Everything was going swimmingly until they started messing about in the digital system to separate steering and throttles. Going back to the old system would have prevented the incident as what they tried to do was impossible on the old system but they’d still have the problem that the QM felt overloaded steering and using throttles at the same time.
I’m not saying it’s ruinously expensive to have a bespoke system. I am saying that relatively it’s more expensive to ask the company that provides bridge systems to companies for hundreds of ships to do something totally different for your dozen or so over a decade. They need to have different production lines with different parts and designers with the different knowledge which is being used very infrequently. They are going to charge through the nose to maintain that capability, there is no drive for competition and you land up in a sole supplier situation. It’s possibly an urban RN myth but Type 42 machinery control systems had components which, toward the end of the class's life, were refurbished by a guy in a shed on the Isle of Wight because there was not enough work to keep a company interested. I believe he lived well off that work.
The yanks appear to have upgraded their bridge systems from old componentry of switches and buttons through to electronic control signals to a new system with HMI. They may not have paid sufficient attention to human factors and have a system the users don’t like. They can go back to their old systems but they will be comparatively more expensive to maintain than a new system. My opinion is that upskilling the operators would be a better option. The fact that they decided to spend the money changing the system in the first place would appear to indicate that they made a valid business case for the capital expenditure. It being the military that may not actually be the case though.
My apologies; I think I've been needlessly defensive with regard to yours.

Agreed on all points. Personally, I think the need is there but my perspective may well be wrong. In any case, very much on the same page with the need for comprehensive training focussing on emergency operation.
 
My apologies; I think I've been needlessly defensive with regard to yours.

Agreed on all points. Personally, I think the need is there but my perspective may well be wrong. In any case, very much on the same page with the need for comprehensive training focussing on emergency operation.
No worries. I’ve operated one of the RNs very latest and “greatest” and know the desire to jump on the very latest tech can be attractive but brings massive problems if done badly. There was a reason I called T45 “WTF!! Class Destroyers” in my last sea job. However if companies just aren’t making the stuff that sailors are used to anymore then sometimes you just need to accept that fact, roll with the punches and move on. Otherwise you spend a disproportionate amount of the upkeep budget keeping someone’s orphan production line running. Obsolescence is bad enough with some of the modern kit without keeping warships running on legacy kit because it’s what we like.
 
No worries. I’ve operated one of the RNs very latest and “greatest” and know the desire to jump on the very latest tech can be attractive but brings massive problems if done badly. There was a reason I called T45 “WTF!! Class Destroyers” in my last sea job. However if companies just aren’t making the stuff that sailors are used to anymore then sometimes you just need to accept that fact, roll with the punches and move on. Otherwise you spend a disproportionate amount of the upkeep budget keeping someone’s orphan production line running. Obsolescence is bad enough with some of the modern kit without keeping warships running on legacy kit because it’s what we like.
quite - can't remember where INVINCIBLE's LOX plant came from originally... EAGLE? There were definitely bits of kit down there that had come off the fixed wing carriers when I was in her in 2004...
 

bob231

War Hero
No worries. I’ve operated one of the RNs very latest and “greatest” and know the desire to jump on the very latest tech can be attractive but brings massive problems if done badly. There was a reason I called T45 “WTF!! Class Destroyers” in my last sea job. However if companies just aren’t making the stuff that sailors are used to anymore then sometimes you just need to accept that fact, roll with the punches and move on. Otherwise you spend a disproportionate amount of the upkeep budget keeping someone’s orphan production line running. Obsolescence is bad enough with some of the modern kit without keeping warships running on legacy kit because it’s what we like.
My time has mostly been on Type 23s, by comparison... the machinery is elderly but quite well supported, the bigger problem is our (wholly analogue and by now utterly black magic) equivalent of a platform monitoring system.

We worked out over the course of a bored Middle that you could replace the whole show with COTS equivalents (probably Raspberry Pi) and have processing power to spare... I imagine there is a good reason this hasn't been done but the increasingly fiddly workarounds required and RICHMOND's travails back up your argument well.
 
My time has mostly been on Type 23s, by comparison... the machinery is elderly but quite well supported, the bigger problem is our (wholly analogue and by now utterly black magic) equivalent of a platform monitoring system.

We worked out over the course of a bored Middle that you could replace the whole show with COTS equivalents (probably Raspberry Pi) and have processing power to spare... I imagine there is a good reason this hasn't been done but the increasingly fiddly workarounds required and RICHMOND's travails back up your argument well.
Did your hypothetical COTS solution take into account the various transducers (probably in the 4-20mA range) which would be needed? Or the coding for each input? Or the safety case justification, or the cost of installation and testing?
 
My time has mostly been on Type 23s, by comparison... the machinery is elderly but quite well supported, the bigger problem is our (wholly analogue and by now utterly black magic) equivalent of a platform monitoring system.

We worked out over the course of a bored Middle that you could replace the whole show with COTS equivalents (probably Raspberry Pi) and have processing power to spare... I imagine there is a good reason this hasn't been done but the increasingly fiddly workarounds required and RICHMOND's travails back up your argument well.
Yep. Slightly different scale but the Hunts were re-engined I think by the Greeks (before the RN did theirs). They also replaced their MCAS with effectively a toughbook laptop very successfully I am led to believe.
Life on an elderly T23 will probably compare with life on elderly T42s which was not fun. Innovative solutions needed when ageing systems breakdown.
 
The othe side of the coin is a very capable bush aircraft upgraded with all the electronic bells and whistles, along with all the limitations that come with it, making the aircraft no longer fit for purpose.

It's been turned into a docile platform safe for inexperienced tech dependent children, but incapable of doing the job for which it was built.
 

theinventor

Old-Salt
Just out of curiosity, how are a warship's touch screens expected to cope in the scenario when there's potentially smoke and water everywhere and folks have gloves on?
 
Just out of curiosity, how are a warship's touch screens expected to cope in the scenario when there's potentially smoke and water everywhere and folks have gloves on?
 

Tool

LE
The othe side of the coin is a very capable bush aircraft upgraded with all the electronic bells and whistles, along with all the limitations that come with it, making the aircraft no longer fit for purpose.

It's been turned into a docile platform safe for inexperienced tech dependent children, but incapable of doing the job for which it was built.
C-208?
 
Piece of shit and definitely not a bush aircraft. It would fall apart if subjected to serious bush ops.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
This is a weird story, just can't see the justification for the Captain doing this

He should be sentenced to watching USS Indianapolis on loop for 6 months to make it sink in what can happen if people don't know where your ship is.
 
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