An Examination of Options to Reduce Underway Training Days Through the Use of Simulation
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U.S. Navy surface combatant ship crew training involves a combination of shore-based, onboard pier-side, and underway training. Underway training is expensive, however, and it increases wear and tear on operating equipment. Furthermore, constrained budgets and increasing recapitalization costs have forced the Navy to examine various methods — such as increased use of simulators — to reduce the annual operating costs of the fleet.
Technological improvements have increased the fidelity and realism of simulators, and simulation is being used more widely for training within the U.S. Navy, in other navies, and in commercial shipping companies. Although the Navy’s surface combatant community currently uses simulators in its training regimen, an increased use of simulation could potentially improve training efficiency, sustain training readiness, and reduce underway days. Focusing on the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class of surface combatants, RAND examines the training requirements of surface forces, determines where credit is granted for the use of simulation, estimates what training is done underway, examines simulation technology, and identifies areas where simulation could be substituted for underway training without any decrease in readiness.
The authors find that although most exercises are done underway, many could be done in port with or without the use of simulators. Accordingly, the Navy should consider (1) investing in shore-based engineering simulators, (2) directing that exercises that can be done in port be done in port, and (3) accelerating the upgrades that are slowly providing DDG-51–class ships with an embedded engineering training capability.
Table of Contents
Overview of Navy Surface Combatant Training
Underway Days and Underway Training at the Unit Level
Which Exercises Must Be Done Underway and Which Could Be Done In Port
Engineering Simulators Offer Opportunities for Increased Proficiency and a Potential Reduction in Underway Training
Additional High-Frequency Exercises that Can Be Done In Port
Findings and Recommendations
List of Surface Exercises Required for Surface Combatants
Survey of Available Simulators
Surface Propulsion Training Devices