ad info

 
CNN.com  technology > computing
    Editions | myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Feedback  

 

  Search
 
 

 
TECHNOLOGY
TOP STORIES

Consumer group: Online privacy protections fall short

Guide to a wired Super Bowl

Debate opens on making e-commerce law consistent

(MORE)

TOP STORIES

More than 11,000 killed in India quake

Mideast negotiators want to continue talks after Israeli elections

(MORE)

MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 


WORLD

U.S.

POLITICS

LAW

ENTERTAINMENT

HEALTH

TRAVEL

FOOD

ARTS & STYLE



(MORE HEADLINES)
*
 
CNN Websites
Networks image


Navy sails high-tech seas

PC World

July 13, 2000
Web posted at: 10:54 a.m. EDT (1454 GMT)

(IDG) -- You can hear waves beating against the steel hulled bow of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS McFaul as Navy Petty Officer Terrance Leggon types an e-mail message and checks for new ones. He's on a break from staring bleary-eyed into sonar scopes scouring the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

MORE COMPUTING INTELLIGENCE
IDG.net   IDG.net home page
  PC World home page
  Read the second part of this article
  Join the Navy, play videogames
  Is telecommuting answer to state woes?
  Reviews & in-depth info at IDG.net
  E-Business World
  TechInformer
  Questions about computers? Let IDG.net's editors help you
  Subscribe to IDG.net's free daily newsletters
  Search IDG.net in 12 languages
  News Radio
  * Fusion audio primers
  * Computerworld Minute

It's a Sunday night, 50 miles off the Connecticut coast aboard the 2-year-old Navy destroyer, which is slicing its way up the coast's dark waters. Petty Officer Leggon is reading e-mail from his wife Trisha back home in Norfolk, Virginia. She sent a message about her new job and their three children.

"I e-mail my wife twice a day," he says. During long tours of duty at sea, e-mail makes all the difference. "The last ship I was on, we got e-mail once a month."

The Internet is making huge waves for sailors at sea. Now, 350 crewmembers of the USS McFaul stay connected to the rest of the world through e-mail and the Web. But that's only one example of how technology is reshaping the Navy and the lives of sailors.

The 500-foot, 8900-ton USS McFaul preceded the historic Tall Ships parade up the Eastern seaboard this week, to Boston from New York City. The destroyer is part of Operation Sail 2000 and its presence is meant to show off the U.S. Navy's military might.

Say Goodbye to Popeye

Navy information technology these days is much more than Popeye counting cans of spinach. Swabbies today do everything from operate local area networks to point Tomahawk cruise missiles using sophisticated weapon systems.

While computers aboard the McFaul seem less than state of the art, the Navy's capability to tie together dozens of subsystems is an impressive feat. The result is technology that controls one of the most sophisticated weapons systems in the world.

For example, the brains of the McFaul's advanced Aegis radar-and-weapons system are five hulking circa-1980s Lockheed Martin computer servers. However, Aegis culls data from dozens of newer radar and weapons subsystems onboard. After compiling that data, it can scan a 500-mile region and track hundreds of targets simultaneously.

Tech-Savvy Sailors on Board

E-mail isn't the only technology touching the lives of sailors. Aboard theMcFaul, supply orders are completed online, an intranet keeps crew informed of ship duties, and sailors can take computer classes online.

Crewmembers can access any Web site within the ".mil" and ".gov" domain. But they are banned from all but ten non-government Web sites. CNN, ESPN, and Excite.com's Blue Mountain Arts electronic greeting cards are among the sites cleared for Navy surfing.

Sites like eTrade, Hotmail, and adult sites are deemed either inappropriate or a security risk, says Joe Faretra, McFaul's Electronics Technician First Class. Along with the advantages of having a network onboard come its trappings, he says. Though the McFaul has never been shot at, the Melissa virus and another "worm" viruses have penetrated the ship's hull as e-mail attachments.

Because weapon systems are not linked to the ship's Windows NT network, the McFaul has never lost its military readiness as a result of a computer virus, Faretra says. Perhaps the Navy learned its lesson in 1998. That's when the USS Yorktown had to be towed back to port after a newly installed Windows NT server failed and affected the ship's missile cruiser's propulsion system.

Computers' Importance Grows

The Navy hopes computers will reduce manpower, improve maintenance, and lower operating costs. Its new mission is to build "Smart Ships" that are increasingly reliant on computers.

The USS McFaul is one of several Navy vessels picked to test new technology. By August, the destroyer and crew will be equipped with 150 Palm handheld computers. The McFaul will also be retrofitted with dozens of infrared Palm syncing stations, so the crew can upload maintenance reports and download orders from superiors.

By 2007, the Navy hopes to build new DD21-class destroyers to replace ships like the USS McFaul. The yet-to-be-built USS Zumwalt will be the first of the class. This ship will equal the USS McFaul in size, but will exceed it in firepower and brains. And instead of a crew of 350, the USS Zumwalt will have a crew of 90--humans, that is; its computing population will likely exceed that of the USS McFaul.




RELATED STORIES:
Navies showcase smart-ship technology
July 4, 2000
Army wants to harness power of the Matrix
May 2, 2000
Hacker-controlled tanks, planes and warships?
March 21, 2000
The navy goes network
March 23, 1999
To USS Carl Vinson sailors: 'You've got mail' E-mail, that is
January 7, 1999

RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
Read the second part of this article
PC World PC World
Truckers log on
CIO
Do you want e-mail everywhere?
PC World
Interplanetary Internet opens space portal
FCW
Ricochet wireless modem: now bouncing off your walls
PC World
Join the Navy, play videogames
FCW
Fixed wireless operators oppose cruise ship Internet
ComputerWorld
Is telecommuting answer to state woes?
Civic.com

RELATED SITES:
The official Web site of the USS McFaul
Operation Sail 2000
About the USS Yorktown

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

 Search   

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.