U.S. NAVY Managing Maritime Metrology
By Troy Clarke, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Corona Public Affairs
What started as a project to reduce sailor workload and increase calibration efficiency turned into an award winning patented system that's reducing costs for the Navy. With a constitutional mandate and an area of responsibility spanning nearly three-quarters of the earth’s surface, one only has to glance at the headlines to see what the United States Navy confronts on a daily basis. Whether called on to provide humanitarian assistance, or disaster relief to 80 % of the world’s population that lives near the ocean, or counter pirate threats to the roughly 90 % of international trade that travels by sea, more than 600,000 sailors and Navy civilians are working around the world to ensure security and prosperity for America, her partners and allies.
During a keynote address at last summer’s National Conference of Standards Laboratories International annual conference, then-vice commander of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Rear Admiral David H. Lewis talked about how the Navy uses innovative technology to build, manage and maintain the sophisticated ships and weapons systems it needs. He pointed to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona’s metrology department in California as an example of how the Navy is accomplishing its vital mission – and ensuring what the cabinet secretary of the world’s only global fleet wants, an enduring global force for good.
In the months since that celebrated address, the inland Southern California science and engineering command has garnered high praise and top honors for its metrology work and recently received a coveted award from the Navy’s chief information technology officer. What led to this success is an inspired commitment by Navy civilian engineers to deliver the best solution for sailors at the lowest cost for the American taxpayer.
To understand what is happening within the Navy’s acclaimed system of laboratories, one needs to first realize the Navy was ranked No.1 in the world for newly patented discoveries and inventions in the 2010 Patent Power report published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) – the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence. Lewis, now serving as the Navy’s Program Executive Officer for Ships, responsible for Navy shipbuilding for surface combatants, amphibious ships, logistic support ships, support craft, and related foreign military sales, said the Navy’s strategy relies on innovation to improve capability and reduce costs. “The Navy is leading the world in patents for innovation and has the strongest government patent portfolio in the world,” Lewis said then. “And NAVSEA’s warfare centers account for nearly half of the Navy’s patents. If the warfare centers were evaluated separately, they alone would rank with the best in
Lewis outlined for the audience of more than 600 government and industry professionals, who gathered July 26, 2010 in Providence, R.I., for the NCSLI conference on 21st century innovations in metrology, how improvements in measurement and calibration standards will save millions in ownership costs for the Navy. He used Corona, the Navy’s metrology and calibration (METCAL) agent responsible for setting all measurement and calibration standards for the Navy and Marine Corps, as a key example of how the maritime service is reaping the benefits of a strong patent portfolio.
Lewis’ successful partnership with Corona began during his tour as assistant chief of staff, maintenance and engineering, Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in San Diego. Needing to replace calibration management systems ending their lifecycle, then-Capt. Lewis contacted Kisan Pandit, NAVSEA’s MET-CAL technical warrant holder and program manager, for technical assistance. In less than a year, Pandit’s office and the Corona Warfare Center delivered a prototype of a new system, called the Metrology Benchtop (METBENCH) Calibration Management System (MCMS).
“I envisioned a system that took our existing R&D METBENCH capability and transitioned it to a system that provided total asset visibility,” said Pandit. “So MCMS provides a single enterprise solution for both our ashore labs and afloat platforms to reduce the total ownership cost for the Navy. That’s what our Fleet needed and that’s what we delivered – a cost effective enterprise solution.” The Corona Warfare Center would receive patents in seven areas of innovation for the MCMS program.
Calibrations are critical to nearly every aspect of naval operations and helps ensure equipment functions properly, accurately and safely, ranging from a ship’s propulsion plant to an F/A-18 Hornet’s laser target designators to night vision goggles. METBENCH program manager Richard Schumacher said the system seamlessly integrates more than 136 automated calibration procedures for 835 items across NAVSEA’s calibration footprint. “This significantly increases calibration efficiency and improves equipment availability for the Navy’s 1.85 million pieces of test equipment across 400 shipboard and shore-based calibration labs and facilities,” Schumacher said. “This supports the roughly 800,000 calibrations the Navy performs each year.”
Starting with Pandit’s visionary architecture for a net-centric solution, the METBENCH team took the R&D system in 2006 from concept to sea trial within 12 months and completed installation for the entire surface fleet last September. Beginning installations in 2007, the system is currently aboard 144 surface ships. With MCMS, type commanders now have capability to monitor calibration readiness of each platform in a near real time environment from their shore workstations. Schumacher added that Corona’s approach to shipboard calibration fully utilizes the Navy’s distance support architecture to best support the fleet deployed anywhere in the world, and MCMS system makes these tasks as easy and transparent to the sailor as possible
Laboratory of the Mind
During his address, Lewis also highlighted other examples from the MET-CAL Research and Development Program where Corona has led in new and improved support, citing new corrosion photometric standards, night vision calibration, and counter-IED detection standards. For NAVSEA’s Naval Surface Warfare Center commander, this level of innovation comes as no surprise. He says his team is just working hard to develop the best for the Navy.
“We have a very spirited and innovative workforce—the real intellectual capital of the Navy,” said NSWC Commander Rear Admiral James Shannon. He says the warfare centers are the Navy’s principal research, development, test and evaluation, analysis and assessment activities for ship and submarine platforms and machinery technology for surface combat systems, ordnance, mines, and strategic systems products and support. First established in 1992, eight NSWC divisions and two Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) divisions comprised of approximately 19,000 scientists, engineers, technician and support personnel, provide full spectrum fleet support to Navy and Marine Corps warfighters.
In addition to being the Navy’s MET- CAL agent, Corona serves as the Navy’s independent assessment agent. Part of NAVSEA, the Navy’s largest systems command responsible for about one-fifth of the Navy’s budget, the command is also responsible for gauging the warfighting capability of weapons and integrated combat systems, through assessment of systems’ performance, readiness, quality, supportability, and the adequacy of training. The base is home to three premiere laboratories and assessment centers: the Joint Warfare Assessment Lab; the Measurement Science and Technology Lab; and the new Daugherty Memorial Assessment Center, dedicated to fallen Sailor Petty Officer 1st Class Steven P. Daugherty.
“They’re out there doing their best every day, not just for the Navy of today, but by building the Navy of tomorrow,” said Shannon. As a customer, Lewis agreed. “MCMS is a great system. It all comes back to (working) for the warfighter.”
With 232 patents issued in 2009, the Navy outpaced its closest two competitors by wide margins. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services received 121 patents and Japan’s Science and Technology Agency, 104. NAVSEA’s warfare centers secured 113 patents and helped propel the Navy to IEEE’s patent-pipeline power rating of 255, double that of the Health and Human Services Department.
One of the Navy’s most notable and ubiquitous patents in public use is the Navigation System Using Satellites and Passive Ranging Techniques issued in 1974, which led to the development of the NAVSTAR-Global Positioning System (GPS) and was invented by a research scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel with additional employees at NRL in Washington, D.C.
It should come as no surprise that the success of MCMS would attract recognition from top Navy officials. It has. Corona’s MCMS team received a top Navy Information Management/Information Technology Excellence Award in January for developing the system.
The Navy’s chief information officer, who presented the annual award to recognize outstanding contributions by individuals and teams who are transforming the Navy and Marine Corps through information technology, praised the MCMS program. “The award Corona got is a great example of (innovation, efficiency and effectiveness),” said Navy CIO Terry Halverson. “Calibration of equipment is very important in the fleet. This system will increase mission effectiveness while decreasing our expense." MCMS replaces five existing IT systems and provides for more effective decision making, improved tasking efficiency, as well as enhanced mission effectiveness, program managers say.
MCMS relies entirely on open-source and government off-the-shelf technology and consists of several integral components, such as automated procedure execution; advanced calibration procedure development; and both afloat and ashore calibration asset management. Program managers say these key elements complement one another and help align Navy systems commands, fleet users, technical agents, type commanders and ashore calibration activities. In conjunction with the surface fleet roll-out of MCMS, with support from leadership in NAVSEA’s Logistics, Maintenance and Industrial Operations Directorate, Rear Admiral Joseph Campbell and senior executive James Brice, NAVSEA began to install the ashore portion of the system in fiscal year 2010 at several calibration laboratories. The ashore iplementation is being supported with funding from Rear Admiral Richard Berkey at U.S. Pacific Fleet and Rear Admiral John Orzalli at U.S. Fleet Forces Command. The full system capability, including the lab management function, will be up and running at all NAVSEA enterprise calibration laboratories during fiscal years 2012-2014.
Halverson says Corona’s approach is exactly what the Navy needs and why the METBENCH team received the award. “You’ve got more effectiveness, more efficiency. That’s a win-win scenario.” Halverson said. “And it’s innovative. It’s showing what can be done when people think a little outside the box.”
Calibration requirements date back some 5,000 years ago with the calibrated cubit of ancient Egyptians. Navy measurements and calibration, too, are steeped in history, having a unique double-mandate found in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, where people like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson established the need for America to standardize weights and measures, and to provide and maintain a Navy. What Pharaohs and Founding Fathers knew is that calibration is foundational to key aspects of society, from building to agriculture. And its role continues today, where calibration spans nearly all facets of modern society, from gas pumps to fighter jets to weight standards used in international trade. With the success of the Navy’s solution to manage its maritime metrology requirements, the future holds vast opportunities for continued efficiencies and increased capabilities – not only for Navy but the sister services and possibly even the private sector. Like a pyramid constructed thousands of years ago using a cubit, calibrated foundations can stand the test of time. For what the Corona team built, its commander couldn’t be happier with the results.
“We are extremely proud of what this dedicated METBENCH team has accomplished,” said NSWC Corona Commanding Officer Captain Jay Kadowaki. “It demonstrates what can be accomplished when you’re working on a mission as important as the Navy’s.