Improving Navy Ship Design for Nearly 40 Years

Total Ship Open Systems Architecture

In 1975, Jack Abbott embarked on the development of a new concept within the U.S. Navy - "Open Systems Architecture" (OSA) - a system design approach that establishes key interface boundaries between the functional elements of the ship and the modular components within each element. These interfaces are designed to accommodate different commercial product designs and/or future military technologies that provide the same or improved functional capabilities. Recognizing the benefits of such an approach, over the next 26 years, Mr. Abbott continued to promote the concept of OSA or "modularity" and in 2001 the Navy announced it was launching a Future Surface Combatant Program aimed at "acquiring a family of next-generation surface combatants" including the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) which is equipped with modular "plug-and-play" mission packages. Today, under the leadership of Mr. Abbott and a cadre of experienced engineers AOC is a proud partner on the LCS program and looks forward to continuing support on the Future Surface Combatant Program.

Technical Architecture Development

Technical Architecture (TA) is analogous to the building codes of the housing industry. For ship development applications, these codes include the zone, module, and component interface standards (both military and commercial) needed to create the necessary functional partitioning to make modularity work for "capability swapping" and different mission requirements.

AOC has developed many of the processes by which these standards were developed for the U.S. Navy. Additionally, in support of the Total Ship Open Systems Architecture team at NSWC Carderock, AOC has guided Technical Architecture development for key Navy ship programs including the DDG 51, the DDG 1000, and the ONR X Craft. For the past eleven years, AOC has been a key developer of the Technical Architecture for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program. This architecture is being applied to both the LCS Freedom variant built by Lockheed Martin and the LCS Independence variant built by Austal and their associated Mission Modules to enable a "plug and play" approach to LCS mission capabilities. In addition, as a part of a Phase II SBIR contract, AOC developed a modular fuel storage unit(MFSU) to stow and dispense various fuels (gasoline, diesel, etc.) in interior cargo spaces.

Interface Verification and Validation

Essential to the success of implementing an Open System Technical Architecture is the need to verify and validate the interfaces between the removable/interchangeable modules and the basic system (ship platform for Navy applications). Verification ensures the design of interfaces between the module and the platform are correct (through drawing reviews), and validation ensures the as-built interfaces work correctly through inspections and tests.

AOC has extensive and proven experience in Interface Verification and Validation (IV&V) as part of its vast support to the LCS program. Specific AOC capabilities include authoring specifications, generating procedures and performing engineering reviews and field tests.

Interface Configuration Management

Configuration Management (CM) is the process of establishing and maintaining consistency of a product's performance, and tracking physical and functional attributes within its design and operational requirements. In addition to tracking the baseline requirements of an engineering system, CM includes all change management activities that alter the product baseline. These changes include hardware and software changes, functional changes and requirement changes as the need arises. Interface Configuration Management (ICM) is applied to the physical interfaces between the ship module stations and the modular mission systems, as well as the functional interfaces between the Seaframe and the Mission Package, which include exterior/interior communications and software Command and Control (C2).

AOC's Interface Configuration Management team has significant hands-on experience in the following key areas:

  • Identifying interfaces that require configuration control
  • Supporting change review teams and change control boards
  • Maintaining accurate Configuration Status Accounting (CSA) of items under configuration control
  • Documenting IV&V audits as required

Interface Control Document

AOC developed the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Interface Control Document with Navy engineers and managers to provide a technical architecture between the Seaframes and Mission Packages by providing common interface requirements. AOC Configuration Management (CM) is responsible for configuration control of all interfaces specified in the ICD.

The LCS is a focused mission ship that can be rapidly reconfigured through the installation of various modular Mission Packages (MPs). The value of the LCS modular concept is derived from the Navy's ability to rapidly change MPs amongst the Seaframes and to allow for the development of future capabilities with minimal production effort. Enabling rapid reconfiguration through the use of mission module interface standards as specified by the Interface Control Document is the primary goal of the Mission Systems and Ship Integration Team (MSSIT).

Implementing this same strategy, Interface Control Documents can be developed for other DoD acquisition projects in order to take full advantage of the modular open architecture concept.

Configuration Status Accounting

The MSSIT Configuration Status Accounting (CSA) tool is the MSSIT database application created and maintained by AOC engineers. The database records the identification, applicability and status of each change submitted against ICD requirements. All comments, action items, and decisions are recorded and compiled into status. The application is a customized database tool, tracking every aspect of the interfaces between the Seaframe and the Mission Packages including requirements, verification and validation statuses and integration statuses. This tool also provides the capability of predicting integration success and supports configuration analysis of proposed warfare suites to ensure compliance to weight, stability and performance requirements.

The Navy needs to ensure mission package compatibility with LCS Seaframes at delivery and over the lifecycle of the program. AOC supports this need by tracking and reporting configuration data including CSA information and Integration issues using two configuration management tools: the MSSIT database application and the MSSIT report library (also maintained by AOC). CSA is the capture, storage and access to configuration information needed to manage production and associated information effectively. The MSSIT database can be tailored to various different DoD programs to support configuration management.