Aboard the Navy's high-tech pioneer, the USS Freedom

Brand new ship designed to operate in shallow waters and under combat displays multiple technological advancements (see video below)

1 2 3 4 5 Page 4
Page 4 of 5

MCC operates with a combination of networks. "You've got your LAN classified and unclassified networks in each space that are all connected together," Johnson said. "And then also you have your navigation systems, which run through the unclassified and classified networks. But then they also have navigation inputs from a different local-area network or a different enclave."

The ship is also unique in that it's prepared to interface with the different mission modules for instant network connectivity. The ship is optimized for three different types of missions: combating mines, diesel submarines in shallow water and surface craft. Depending on the mission, modules are swapped in -- and each module comes with its own equipment and crew.

"They get their power, and then they've got all your connectivity, RJ45 and Cat 5, for their Internet and to interface with the Freedom's network," Johnson said. "So they'll be able from there to get their Internet and log into their domain and all the networks and do what they need to do." That includes controlling all the unmanned vehicles. "They can communicate via their network interface with my network through their antennas. They plug in and boot up, and rock and roll."

The Freedom is the first Navy ship to have such interchangeable modules for multimission capability, said Tisdale.

Going off-the-shelf for some systems

Surprisingly, the ship uses an open architecture and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computing equipment, including Windows 2000 servers, Cisco VoIP phones and the Avaya Call Management System. "We did that for a couple of reasons," said Lockheed Martin's Matthews.

"This is the fastest a ship has gone from a design to operational in the history of the Navy. To do that, we needed systems that were really off the shelf," Matthews said. It took about six and a half years for that process, she said, roughly half the time usually required. Also, going the COTS route lets the Navy easily update the systems as advancements are made in the general civilian IT industry.

Yet another innovation on the ship is the first-ever Navy application of powerful Rolls-Royce gas turbines derived from the engines used on the Boeing 777. Along with two diesel engines, themselves derived from railroad locomotives, they power four water jets to provide unmatched speed and handling.

The ship's one-of-a-kind water-jet propulsion system lifts the semi-planing monohull up out of the water at high speed, which can be more than 45 knots (about 52 mph). It can hit that speed in less than two minutes. The water jets also allow the ship to move sideways at 1 knot and, while stationary, rotate in a complete circle in just three minutes. The Navy says the 5-foot-diameter water jets combined pump more than 12 million gallons of water per minute, "equivalent to draining an Olympic-size swimming pool in three seconds."

1 2 3 4 5 Page 4
Page 4 of 5
7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon