“It’s extremely easy to drive, even when your park-
ing it or you’re pulling it off a pier getting underway,”
said Haugan, the lead bridge instructor who has served
aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale,
guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and aircraft car-
rier USS Carl Vinson. “Easiest ship I’ve seen so far.”
At his direction, instructors changed the weather
and winds blew snow and fog across the screen.
“I’m a big fan of autopilot,” Haugan said, noting a
screen marks the expected course and enables periodic
checks and adjustments. “This is now my helm; I’m
telling it to do it.”
Students often find the training and visuals very
realistic, he added.
“It’s a very good system. It helps a lot, especially
with the minimal manning ... to focus on other responsibilities,” he said.
For many LCS crew members, those responsibilities in-
clude operating the ship’s crane to recover mini-subs and
other remote vehicles that are critical to its mission pack-
ages. Gaming technology developed
by Cubic is incorporated in the LTF’s
mission bay trainer to train Sailors on
the Launch-and-Recovery system.
Carr said the hardware is an exact
replica of what is on the ship, with
interfaced consoles, or “haptic” box-
es, with joysticks to control the over-
head cranes in the aft part of the ship.
“We are building courseware so
the Sailors first learn how to use the
box, and everything the box does,”
he said. “They actually will see the
full impact of what they are doing
and then eventually use the haptic
device on the live platform.”
The prototype simulator uses
“virtual ship” technology to give students the feel of actually operating
the crane. In a darkened room, Chief
Mineman (SW) William Holbrook
“stood” in the back of Independence,
30 feet above water, and operated a
crane to capture the 8-ton remote
mine-hunting system displayed on a
large screen. The new LTF will have
more space to accommodate a larger
mission bay trainer.
“This is amazing,” said Holbrook,
an instructor. “This one requires a
lot of hand and eye coordination.”
He can interface with the combat
systems lab to launch and recover.
The LTF continues to build its instructor base in house, Shifflett said,
with instructors as well as LCS teams
using simulators during off hours. So
far, the prototype simulator is making a difference. A mission that must
be completed in 50 minutes was taking crews 110 minutes to be done, he
said, but after teams used the trainer,
“they captured the vehicle well within the 50-minute window.” ;