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Naval Submarine School
Invention and Innovation:
Training at Submarine School
By Captain Bill Hanson
Commanding Officer, Naval Submarine School

Naval Submarine School has more instructional technology per square foot than many colleges and universities, but we are far more than the sum of all our tools. Learning technology is worth nothing without a dedicated staff to assure its used to its best effect to develop, maintain and elevate a consistent level of educational excellence.

In evaluating technology in the classroom, an instructor not only asks "how much can this improve learning?" but "how much can this improve learning tomorrow and the day after tomorrow?" Constantly answering that question, by designing and refining new applications and trainers, which result in faster, cheaper, better learning, in turn, fuels the quest for development and deployment of the next generation of learning technologies and the process begins again.

Today's technology enables Sailors to have individual, tailored instruction beyond what is traditionally the case in a conventional, teacher-student relationship. Technology allows students access to a wide variety of reference materials from a computer desktop to solve problems. Web-based instruction can reach a wider audience, in terms of numbers and geography, than any teacher ever could before.
It's a matter of the selection of tools and the choice of instructional strategies to suit the task.

At the heart of Submarine School are our Advanced Automated Electronic Classrooms, AECs. The AEC is used throughout Submarine School from the introductory Basic Enlisted Submarine School, BESS, through the Submarine Officer Advanced Course, SOAC.
For enlisted training, the need for electronic classrooms was a result of the Interactive Electronic Technical Manual, IETM. IETM's have rapidly evolved from mere documents to actual software, containing embedded training in addition to traditional technical data. Sailors use IETM's to learn equipment operation and maintenance procedures in their classrooms exactly as they will perform in the fleet.

In the Submarine Officer Warfare Center, AEC's provide officer students with information never before available in the classroom. An in-house electronic library provides access to every tactical, technical, and administrative publication needed, and even provides search capability. Access to the Secret Internet Protocol Routing Network, SIPRNET, creates even more avenues for learning. With SIPRNET, a submarine can get new orders during a deployment, and prepare for an entirely different tactical situation and operational environment without returning, with training based on the latest possible information and updated in real time by a Submarine School staff who are an expansion of the submarine's crew.

Throughout Submarine School, electronic classrooms are used to supplement and replace older and more expensive trainers. Computer-based Submarine On Board Training, SOBT, products are already in use for various classes. BESS students routinely spend after-hours time at their AEC stations working with the Virtual Interactive Shipboard Instructional Tour, VISIT, program.
Interactive courseware and other computer-based training enhance comprehension and often reduce training time. Use of PC-based simulations results in significant cost savings over legacy trainers, which use actual equipment components. They can also simulate a variety of equipment configurations, and the simulation software may be rapidly upgraded to keep pace with equipment in the fleet.

SOBT continues to develop Interactive Multimedia Instruction, IMI, to support submarine training needs. These IMI, delivered to the submarines in the form of compact discs, currently provide training in Submarine qualifications both Officer and Enlisted; Watchstation qualification; Engineering Training; Sonar, Combat Systems and Communications; Basic Seamanship and Navigation and General Military Training.
With the incorporation of SOBT into Submarine School, those products can now be utilized and reinforced during school-house training. In some instances, SOBT products will reduce the amount of time Sailors spend at shore training facilities.

In support of distance learning, Submarine School's on-line courses, PowerPoint presentations, etc., which are available through the SIPRNET, can be downloaded and utilized by shipboard personnel. And to facilitate this, SOBT products are being converted from existing IMI products to Hyper Text Markup Language, HTML, allowing them to be utilized independent of the computer operating system.
Conversion to HTML has actually compressed overall size of SOBT products, speeding utilization and downloading. This conversion is on-going and will eventually populate the Submarine School SIPRNET site with all SOBT courseware.
There will soon be a new SOBT Catalog where a Sailor will not only launch courseware, but also be able to order replacement compact discs.

And with the implementation of the Learning Management System, LMS, student information upon completion of SOBT courseware will be transferred through the SIPRNET.

Our Submarine Officer Warfare Center hosted a prototype of the Learning Management System, LMS, designed to facilitate professional development. We developed learning plans that included the curriculum of officer pipeline courses, qualification cards and professional development for collateral duties assigned to the typical junior officer. These learning plans are linked to training activities that provide the skills necessary for successful job performance. LMS is used to deliver training content to the Submarine Officer Basic Course, SOBC, in our AECs.
The vision is to expand LMS to our SIPRNET site for use around the globe.

In conjunction with the Advanced Processor Build-Tactical, ABT-T, (Commercial Off-the-Shelf, COTS) fire control system, LMS will be installed onboard a submarine and the crew will receive specialized computer-based training, delivered and tracked with LMS, accessible over the ship's LAN.
Using the SIPRNET, content and performance data of LMS will be updated and maintained by the Submarine Officer Warfare Center staff.
Capabilities of LMS will include delivery of computer-based training, scheduling, tracking and recording of all training activity, and producing thorough reports on the training and qualification of personnel at all levels.

Future innovations are targeted for developing enlisted training profiles and authoring instructional content.

Common complaints about computer-based training focus on the lack of relevance and currency of the content. Using a courseware-authoring tool called InTrain, instructors are creating adaptive, interactive courseware for use by both in-house students as well as onboard ship.
InTrain sends out its content with applets, so anyone accessing the SIPRNET can be take a course. Additionally, InTrain can work within a computerized LMS so courses can be given almost entirely by computer.
This is ideal for introductory courses where students are able to learn at their own pace.

The same computer based training content can be altered and delivered to another audience with a minimal amount of effort. For instance, a basic sonar theory course, authored for SOBC students, can be reused for review by SOAC students. Changes to the material are easy to make in response to updates in tactical guidance or from lessons learned. InTrain provides easily developed computer-based instruction that challenges each Sailor and leaves no one behind.

Basic Enlisted Submarine School, BESS, makes extensive use of the Virtual Interactive Shipboard Instructional Tour, VISIT, a cooperative effort between the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, NAWCTSD, and Submarine School. It's a virtual 688I submarine (Los Angeles Improved Class Submarine). NAWCTSD has photographed more than 60 panoramic locations throughout the sub's interior, including all decks in the forward compartment. Sailors use VISIT to learn the location of damage control equipment, spaces and major systems. With a mouse or a keypad, Sailors can familiarize themselves with an area by viewing a complete picture of the compartment as it appears on the screen. And to learn more about a component depicted, the Sailor moves the cursor on the image. A computer-generated voice then briefly describes the item.

Each Sailor views the submarine at individual work-stations, working at his own pace. The Sailor sees a diagram of the entire submarine, so he knows where he is on the submarine. VISIT creates individual tasks as training exercises to be accomplished.

After his initial orientation, a Sailor is tested by "walking" through his virtual submarine and finding specific equipment. Resembling a video game, VISIT can be configured to various levels of difficulty from easy, medium and hard to "I built the ship."

Instructors monitor each workstation from the front of the classroom, which has a large screen monitor for group instruction, as the need arises. The fleet benefits from VISIT with a reduction in time, by up to one-third (from 12 to 8 months), in submarine qualification, thus adding more, and better-trained, crew faster and at lower cost.

While VISIT illustrates how the waterfront benefits from school house innovation, the Virtual Environment for Submarine ship handling and piloting training, VESUB, takes actual operational experiences and uses technology to enhance training.
Simulators exist for training submarine piloting teams, but offer no harbor or channel ship-handling training for an Officer Of the Deck, OOD. Until VESUB, such training could take place only "on the job". But VESUB changes all of this and allows junior officers to learn in a realistic computer-generated environment.

Utilizing digital imagery, 360 degree 3-D views, speech recognition software, and 4 fully detailed ports, VESUB is an excellent tool to teach our junior officers basic shiphandling skills, as well as honing the more advanced skills of contact management, accounting for set and drift, and getting into and out of a busy port.

The head-mounted display provides a 360-degree view of a simulated harbor that contains all of the visual cues associated with harbor and channel navigation.
This view can be switched from the ship's own bridge to a binocular view. A student also hears harbor sounds such as wind, waves and navigational cues. Voice recognition and speech synthesis software enables a student to interact with a computer-generated navigator, helmsman as well as an engineering officer of the watch.

Due to limited time at sea, and the infrequent visits to foreign ports, VESUB is essential to allow OOD's an opportunity to practice these scenarios safely and unrestricted from operational commitments.

Placing students in a mock-up of the bridge of a submarine, immersing them in a realistic virtual reality world, and requiring them to act as if on-watch, VESUB brings a level of training simulation that is unparalleled in the submarine force.
Commanding Officers have the ability to train all of their OOD's, while evaluating these watchstanders in stressful situations. The voice recognition software forces students to learn how to speak calmly and clearly, reinforcing good watchstanding habits. VESUB allows young officers to try out an idea or plan, without fear of damaging their submarine. The option to insert casualties and man-overboard scenarios allows for unprecedented training in these venues.
With realistic ports (Actual Navaids, turn bearings, and pilot techniques are modeled in the trainer), officers can get an outstanding "feel" for a port, which can be directly transferred to a real-world transit of that port in the future. With the addition of more ports in the future, VESUB will allow submarines to practice entering a foreign port many times before actually doing so on a deployment.
VESUB is learn-by-doing, and if a student makes a mistake, the program is simply reset as opposed to the consequences of a misstep in the "real world".

Rooted very much in the real world, but harnessing the possibilities of simulators to create a training-friendly virtual reality is the Submarine Skill-training Network, SUBSKILLSNET.
SUBSKILLSNET is a PC-based, using networked computers to simulate an actual Submarine Navigation environment. The current version, installed in June 2001 at Submarine School, includes simulators for periscope, radar, surface bridge view as well as a variety of other attack center controls and displays.

The original design by SOBT was for use in the fleet, linking several laptops for training while at sea. Submarine School initially adapted the trainer as a temporary replacement for the Submarine Piloting and Navigation, SPAN, trainer during a planned upgrade slated for next summer, and also as a tool for training specific watch standers in a one on one environment.

The cost of this trainer is far less than running a typical hard mounted, tactical gear oriented trainer.
Future software upgrades will incorporate more realistic scenarios and additional harbor databases. Additionally, this upgrade will add to the number and type of navigation aids, better defining the land area for each specific port. With these additions, and enhanced visual simulation, SUBSKILLSNET will continue to add to its overall value and usefulness to the fleet.

SUBSKILLSNET, when used to train Sailors ranging from A-school through Prospective Commanding Officers classes, is an exceptional tool for the Submarine force. It allows for an isolated OOD station, bringing greater realism into the training scenario.
By using two periscopes, a Sailor can navigate and perform contact coordination at the same time.

This team training capability is a major improvement over the current SPAN trainer, which is limited to only one periscope. Other improvements enhancing training include the BQN-17 and WRN-6 simulations, which are almost identical, visually and functionally, to the actual gear.

To continue to produce world-class Sailors for the 21st Century Navy, Submarine School will always be more than the technology in our trainers. An environment of achievement must attract leaders and teachers who will continue the tradition of invention and innovation so a decade and more from now, Submarine School remains, as it is today, the Center of Training Excellence for the Submarine Force.