The humorous “Trunk Monkey” auto dealership commercials, which have gone viral on YouTube and other websites, helped make a
serious point about flexible and adaptable surface combatants at the International Quality & Control Centre
2014 Surface Warships conference held at the Royal
Navy Dockyard at Portsmouth, England, Jan. 30-31.
Naval officers and industry experts gathered to
share ideas and concepts for designing, building, manning and maintaining naval combatants today and into
the future, but also to challenge assumptions and look
at problems and challenges in new and different ways.
So what does the “Trunk Monkey” signify in the context of warship design, construction and operations? In
one of the series of TV spots for Suburban Auto Group
in Oregon, a driver of a new car apparently cuts off a
man driving a pickup. The man from the truck gets out
and begins screaming at the driver of the car.
“You want a piece of me?” he
Flustered and fearful, the driver
pushes the “trunk monkey” button.
The trunk opens and a chimpanzee
climbs out, sneaks up on the screaming man and clubs him over the head
with a tire iron. The truck driver
crumples to the pavement.
Relieved and satisfied, the man
looks down at the monkey and says,
“Alright, back in the trunk!”
The lesson, of course, is that
remote systems can be deployed
when needed from surface combat-
ants with precisely the warfighting
capability required for a particular
mission, and that such capability
can be easily installed, updated,
modified or exchanged. Just change
the chimp, or the tire iron.
The opening keynote address by
“We find ourselves elusively chasing the best capability available when the ship is built. But each time we
thought we knew what we wanted, we changed the
requirement. Capability declines over the life of the
ship compared to the threat and the original capability
when commissioned,” he said.
Through modularity, Rowden argued, ships could
be kept current and combat relevant by changing modular components rather than a time-consuming and
costly midlife overhaul that guts the ship.
“We need to modernize them, but we can’t afford to
take a ship out of service for a year to remove and replace
the entire combat system, and spend months testing it
before the ship can be deployable,” he said.
Fast, Flexible &
Surface Warships 2014 attendees share ideas,
challenge assumptions for surface combatants
By EDWARD LUNDQUIST, Special Correspondent
Plug and Play
The world’s navies have learned that remote systems can be
deployed when needed from surface combatants with precisely
the warfighting capability required for a particular mission.
■ The U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship gets its capability
through containerized mission systems, vehicles, sensors and
weapons, connected with standard interfaces, to address
focused missions of anti-submarine warfare, mine warfare or
■ The Royal Navy’s Type 26 frigate has space for a variety of
modularized payloads and is intended to be operated with
manned and unmanned off-board systems.
■ Sweden and Denmark have emphasized building or adapting
ships to operate far from home waters to participate in international
coalitions, such as anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean, and be
interoperable with other ships in multinational task groups.
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 34 SEAPOWER / MARCH 2014