Developed by FRD in a matter of days to keep pace with fleet needs, the Fusion Cell is a tool intended to rapidly acquire, fuse, interpret and distribute information about NAVWAR personnel, resources, programs, installations and more, impacted by COVID-19, to ensure proactive planning and to maintain fleet readiness worldwide.
“The current COVID-19 environment requires a flexible and agile workforce, capable of both adapting and overcoming all that is ahead of us,” said Mike Spencer, FRD Executive Director. “The Fusion Cell provides real-time situational awareness to ensure the command is able to keep pace with the rapidly changing environment while remaining mission focused on installing, supporting, and modernizing the Navy’s command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems to ensure the fleet remains prepared to meet all mission requirements no matter the challenge.”
Some of the challenges NAVWAR is facing in the COVID-19 environment include travel restrictions, safety requirements and health standards put in place to stop the spread of the virus. Although necessary, these restrictions limit how the command is able to deliver installations and modernizations in person, aboard Navy ships.
While taking into account COVID-19 guidance, the command is using the Fusion Cell to make calculated insights and solve complex problems to meet emergent warfighting needs, while keeping personnel safe and secure.
For example, the Fusion Cell is tracking in-service engineering agents (ISEA) deployed around the globe, supporting ship and shore installations. Typically, ISEA team members report to their respective location for an average of 14 days, but due to current restrictions team members are now required to quarantine for an additional 14 days after departing their job location. This increases the amount of time members are on the job and unavailable to support the next installation.
Using the Fusion Cell, NAVWAR was able to identify the problem and provide a solution to ensure there was not a gap in fleet services. NAVWAR decreased the number of deployed ISEA members to only essential personnel. Additionally, most of those members are now remaining on site longer than the average 14-day deployment to provide support before and after an install, rather than traveling back and forth in between jobs.
“The Fusion Cell provides us with a significant tactical advantage, enabling a competitive edge as the world around us continues to change and our adversaries pick up speed,” said FRD Technical Director Nick Freije. “Since the start of this worldwide pandemic, NAVWAR has remained on time and within cost, and in some instances, ahead of schedule with ship installations and modernizations across the fleet.”
Most recently, NAVWAR used data provided via the Fusion Cell to successfully complete a major upgrade and install a new baseline of the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) in record time on USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) while forward deployed in Japan. Technical experts across NAVWAR enterprise worked together to deliver CANES Hardware Version 1.2 and Software Version 3.0 (HW 1.2/SW 3) to Reagan, in less than four and a half months, resulting in the fastest installation on a force level ship to date.
Since the start of the pandemic, and in addition to Reagan’s CANES installation, the Fusion Cell assisted in prioritizing fleet requirements across 7 different Navy Type Commands, completing 17 cyber baselines deliveries and 7 systems-of-systems operability tests ensuring that the fleet is prepared to meet all current and future requirements.
As the Fusion Cell picks up speed and the amount of information surrounding COVID-19 increases, NAVWAR has relied heavily on Navy reservists who have stepped to manage the collection of data across the Navy.
Using Fusion Cell data and analytics, NAWAR is remaining mission focused while exploring the use of distance support and remote assistance capabilities such as video chat, voice chat, virtual reality, cloud technologies, artificial intelligence and more. These capabilities will ensure the health and safety of command personnel while providing warfighters with the right capabilities, at the right time, for the right cost now and into the future.