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Submarine Learning Facility Norfolk Opens New Tactical Trainer

by Chief Petty Officer (SW/AW) Mark Piggott

Submarine Learning Facility (SLF) Norfolk recently opened the Submarine Force’s newest tactical trainer for use by the Fleet. The Submarine Multi-Mission Team Trainer, Phase 3 (SMMTT 3) provides shore-based training for submarine combat control and sonar systems.

SMMTT 3 incorporates the latest simulation technology to enable submarine crews to rehearse tactical missions in environmental and tactical conditions that realistically simulate those found anywhere in the world.

“The goal of SMMTT 3 is to provide a place where ships can come to get the latest and greatest, up-to-date training,” said Cmdr. Michael Jones, SLF Commanding Officer.

SMMTT 3 supports the Navy’s Revolution in Training and Sea Warrior program by delivering the right training at the right time to the right Sailors for the right cost. It allows the Norfolk Submarine Learning Facility to provide the most realistic submarine training possible to local submarines.

“It’s just amazing to see this come together after five years of hard work,” said Capt. Arnold Lotring, Commanding Officer, Submarine Learning Center. “There is no other trainer like this in the world. The modeling and the fidelity are unmatched. Our submariners deserve it.”

“This is a quantum leap in being able to make the system realistic,” Cmdr. Jones added. “The technology that backs this system up is head and shoulders above anything we’ve ever seen before.”

Another aspect of the SMMTT 3 is its external communication capabilities. Submarines and surface ships will be able to “link up” for exercises, allowing battle group training for Fleet Synthetic Training (FST) exercises, without leaving the pier.

“We can’t wait for the first FST to be run over there,” Capt. Lotring said. “We are ready to do some interactive training.”

SMMTT 3 development began in 2002, under the sponsorship of OPNAV N771B and the Program Management of NAVSEA 07L1. A preliminary version of the system was delivered to the Submarine Learning Facility at the same time new combat control and sonar systems were being delivered to two Norfolk based submarines. This accomplished a major goal set by OPNAV N77 with regards to ensuring that shore based Team Trainers would be available to support delivery of state of the art COTS tactical changes to deploying submarines.

“SMMTT 3 is setting the bar for training,” said Chief Petty Officer (SS/SW) David Newsome, SMMTT 3 Instructor. “This is the first trainer that has been built at the same time as new systems were installed on submarines on the waterfront. So now, when they pull into port and want to stay proficient, they can march right up into the trainer and stay proficient.”

One of the key training tools built into SMMTT 3 is the multi-mission capability of the trainer. According to Newsome, SMMTT 3 is capable of “one stop shopping” for submarine crews looking for training. SMMTT 3 can simulate any scenario required for today’s submariner, from littoral navigation to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

“Undersea warfare, anti-submarine warfare, ISR, these are all things are that we, as submariners, do for a living. It’s our bread and butter,” Chief Petty Officer Newsome said. “It’s important to have a facility where they can come in and we can place them in a ‘real-time’ scenario and practice the things they would do at sea.”

The SMMTT 3 trainer is the combined effort of three Navy Labs – Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Carderock Division; Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), Newport Division; and NAVAIR Training Systems Division. Over the next two years, NSWC Carderock Division will deliver seven additional systems to submarine training sites in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Bangor, Washington; New London, Connecticut; Kings Bay, Georgia; and San Diego, California.

“It’s absolutely imperative that we have this capability for the ships ready to deploy, as well as training under the fleet response training plan,” said Capt. Jamie Foggo, Commodore, Submarine Squadron SIX. “As you look at the future of the 688
Navy, we’re modernizing; we’re bringing a lot of ships up to the 21st Century.”

“They’ll have the benefit of SMMTT 3,” he continued, “which will match the configuration on the ships, which will make their at-sea time more fruitful because the crew will have already seen all these problems run import.”

“It’s a force multiplier for me as squadron commander,” Capt. Foggo concluded.

You can find more information about the Submarine Learning Center on the web at https://www.npdc.navy.mil/slc/.

Photo caption followsThe Submarine Learning Facility’s Submarine Multi-Mission Team Trainer, Phase 3 will provide shore-based training for submarine combat control and sonar systems.