Ensign Ryan Landeen wears a conning officer virtual envi-
ronment (COVE) headset as he navigates a virtual ship dur-
ing a training exercise Nov. 16 as part of the Basic Division
Officer Course at the Surface Warfare Officer School in
Norfolk, Va. The COVE can be programmed to replicate
myriad ships and environmental conditions, allowing Sailors
and Coast Guard boat crew members to practice ship-
handling skills in a controlled environment.
According to NAWCTSD’s Finn Kilsgaard, “We’ve
taken math models into the tactical realm.”
Kilsgaard said the COVE system can train a single
person, a single team or many teams.
“It’s very scalable,” he said.
NAWCTSD systems engineer Ryan Aleson said the
video wall uses 46-inch screen monitors to provide
watch standers a 360-degree view. Virtually any kind of
vessel can be introduced into a scenario, from a pontoon boat to a combatant.
The bridge has a full communications suite so students
can practice radio communications with each other.
“Later, in the critique, they can talk about what they
were trying to communicate,” he said.
Instructors monitor student performance. The COVE
system offers a key assessment tool.
“Every action is recorded, so you stop in the middle
of an event, or wait until it’s done and reply the entire
scenario,” Aleson said. “You can finish, then step
back, have a God’s-eye view from a third-person per-
spective, and see how a situation developed and learn
The Transit Protection Training System (TPTS) can
be configured to train Navy, Coast Guard or any mar-
itime enforcement agency for escort duties.
“It can go anywhere,” Aleson said. “We have a
library of a couple of hundred entities. We own the
data rights of all of our ports.”
The two Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection
Units (MFPUs) work in partnership with the Navy to
escort and protect afloat Navy vessels transiting to and
from the naval bases at Bangor and Kings Bay. The
MFPUs are single-mission units with personnel specifically trained to conduct these escorts and vessels specifically designed or uniquely equipped for the mission.
The MFPUs each have a 14-station COVE simulator
to train patrol commanders (PATCOMs), gunners,
boat coxswains and crew members.
“In addition to the training and qualification, the simulation allows us to take real-world events and re-create
them,” said Cmdr. Thomas Sullivan, who commands
MFPU Bangor. “If we had a unique situation unfold during today’s escort that was experienced by one PATCOM
and his team, he can come back, regurgitate the information, and we can re-create that entire scenario with an
multiple-boat package plus OPFOR [opposing forces]
tomorrow so that every PATCOM can live through it.
This way, we can all discuss the situation, review best
practices and determine the best course of action. We
couldn’t re-create all that on the water.
“We do this evolution very often, so it’s less for mission
rehearsal and more for a hot wash-up,” Sullivan said.
One station has multiple screens for a 360-degree
in-the-round view for the PATCOM. The 13 generic
training stations can be a good guy or a bad guy. They
can be a 64-foot special screening vessel, an 87-foot
patrol boat or OPFOR. With recent upgrades, forces
ashore can join in the scenario.
“OPFOR can be anything. They can be clueless
boaters. We can also have aircraft in the scenario. And
we have a lot of fishing,” said Ted Lindstrom, ports,
waterways and port security manager for the
Thirteenth Coast Guard District in Seattle.
“We are connected with the Washington State
Department of Natural Resources, and we know where
the fishing zones are and when they’re going to be
busy. Tribal fisheries will do a 24-hour ‘salmon opener’
in their waters,” Sullivan said. “So we’ll have fishing
boats all over that area, with nets.
“Puget Sound is a big waterway with a lot going on,”
he said. “We stay on top of it.”
“We have both high-fidelity simulation — where some-
body is at one of the stations actually driving a vessel —
and low-fidelity ‘maritime noise.’ District [Thirteen] uses
the simulator as part of the unit’s annual Ready for
Operations assessment as it can provide a better evaluation
than on the water exercises or drills,” Lindstrom said.
“Our staff is working with NAWCTSD to upgrade
the simulator. Our next evolution of training will bring
in the navigation team from the Navy vessel to practice