A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Joe Schultz
Date: 2009 Dec 16, 16:21 -0800
The US Navy's electronic navigation package is called Voyage Management System (VMS) - Sperry is the major contractor. Navy may be "full up" in 2010. Last plan was for 2009, but you know how that goes.
Think of VMS as the umbrella software for navigation, receiving all the sensor data (radar, GPS, fathometer, etc.), then plotting the position on the built-in vector chart. A fully integrated chart plotter, in other words, and NO paper backup because the chart is vector. The sensors are confirmed by visual methods, say a LOP to a lighthouse. VMS lets you electronically plot the LOP on the electronic chart, so you can see if the sensors are OK. Coast Guard is just starting to integrate VMS - I think their plan is to be "full up" in 2015. Wouldn't surprise me if they quit updating the raster charts and, if you want a paper chart, you'll then go the "Print on Demand" route from a vector chart. Print on Demand is the reality for American (land) maps, so I don't think it will be that big of a deal for mariners, providing your chart retailer buys a printer.
Networked ships are also the reality, at least for the modern ships. First try, to my knowledge, was USS Yorktown (Ticonderoga class cruiser), using Windows NT. Everything was networked - navigation, engineering, supply, weapons, communications. First goof-up was a keypunch error that resulted in a "divide by zero" command. The umbrella software crashed, and that cascaded into a full network failure which caused the other umbrella software packages to crash - and Yorktown went completely cold-iron while at sea. Yorktown had to call the tug several times as they worked the bugs, and the Navy returned to their traditional contractors fairly quickly. Today's networks (and umbrella software packages) are reliable.
The tide swings back and forth, and new words gets invented as people reinvent the wheel. Today it's COTS, which stands for commercial off the shelf. They want to use commercial computer hardware and, in situations like nav radar, commercial sensors but retain the major contractor's network and umbrella software.
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