precommissioning facilities at the shipbuilding centers
in Pascagoula, Miss., and Bath, Maine; overseas at Rota,
Spain, and Bahrain; and the littoral combat ship (LCS)
training facility at San Diego. The larger Naval Reserve
Officers Training Corps programs have them, and
Mayport Naval Station, Fla., will receive one soon.
They have evolved during the past 10 years. Brandl
likens it to the difference between a brand-new Xbox
360 or PlayStation 4 and an old ColecoVision video
“The reason we’ve invested so much in the
COVE trainer is it truly represents ship-handling,”
Robertson said his job is to prepare ensigns to become
commanding officers at sea one day. The cost of getting
this done would be prohibitive if he were to rely solely
upon real-world shipboard training.
“Take an 8,000-ton destroyer, and do some live
evolutions. Get the ship underway, get it back to the
pier. The cost would be phenomenal for an eight-hour
period alone, in fuel costs, time, the supporting cast of
Sailors, and certainly wear and tear,” he said.
“With COVE, I can do that all for just hundreds
of dollars for an eight-hour period. A [trainee] could
make eight to 10 mooring evolutions. Multiply that by
every surface ship in the entire Navy, and you can see
where the cost savings are,” Robertson said.
This simply could not be done if Robertson were a
ship’s captain assigned to find training time for every
ensign in his crew. It would be impossible, he said, to
build the proficiency the Navy wants from its officers
were it not for the virtual training.
As far as the COVE system has evolved since its inception, Robertson said that even the earliest versions
Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Midshipman 2nd Class Alex Petroy, an incoming junior at the University of Southern California,
virtually cons a ship at sea Aug. 11 using the Naval Seamanship & Shiphandling Conning Officer Virtual Environment (NSS COVE) during the 2016
NROTC National Shiphandler of the Year competition at the Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) in Newport, R.I. The three-day event consist-
ed of using NSS COVE simulators at SWOS and participating in several virtual reality conning and ship-driving scenarios.