NAWCTSD, NSTC leaders plan future of Navy's largest simulator

The commander of Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) hosted members from the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) at a Battle Stations 21 Life Cycle Management Plan (LCMP) Summit here Jan. 22-23.

Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne welcomed Capt. Steven "Snak" Nakagawa, NAWCTSD commanding officer and staff members, to Recruit Training Command (RTC) and the Navy's largest simulator, USS Trayer (BST 21), to discuss the way ahead in the training of recruits during their final test, known as Battle Stations.

Held on board Trayer, a 210-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class destroyer replica located at RTC, Battle Stations is the culmination of eight weeks of training by recruits. It is a 12-hour test of a recruit's skills in 17 shipboard evolutions, including fighting fires, stopping floods and transporting casualties.

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"We wanted to hold this summit to strengthen and continue to forge this long lasting partnership we have with NAWCTSD," said Mewbourne. "Clearly NAWCTSD continues to have a lot to do with the Battle Stations simulator but if we are going to keep it the way it looks today and operating the way it is today we have to invest in the future."

Mewbourne said the summit's main mission was to come up with a structure and the funding to go with it to make sure Battle Stations and the Trayer simulator continues to train today's and tomorrow's recruits -- making them better Sailors for the fleet.

Mewbourne said the summit participants needed to look at proposing modular changes to keep up with the changes of the Navy and the new platforms that come on line. He pointed to the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and the new Ford-class carrier. He also compared maintaining USS Trayer and Battle Stations to how amusement parks maintain and upgrade attractions.

"I'm really proud of our team and what they did to create Trayer and Battle Stations 21 back then, the combined team, to include all the contractors from the entertainment industry," said Nakagawa, whose headquarters is located in Orlando, Fla. "It's still (Trayer and Battle Stations) a national asset. It's not just about the hundreds of thousands of Sailors that have already been through and the hundreds of thousands that will go through in the future, but it is a national asset that the Navy is very proud of. The stewardship that this group of people did before and is still doing and will do in the future is something to be very proud of on both sides of the table here (at the summit)."

NAWCTSD is considered one of the cornerstones of the National Center for Simulation which means NAWCTSD and its partners from Orlando and Hollywood have been part of Trayer and Battle Stations 21 since the ship's design and construction in the early part of the last decade, around 2002, and right up to the ship's commissioning on June 18, 2007.

Within the Naval Air Systems Command in Orlando, the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division is the Navy's source for a full range of innovative products and services that provide complete training solutions. This includes requirements analysis, design, development and full life cycle support. Of significance is NAWCTSD's ability to provide continuous learning across a wide variety of applications (aviation, surface, undersea, etc.). NAWCTSD integrates the science of learning with performance-based training and measurement of training effectiveness focused on improving the performance of Sailors and Marines. They continually engage the warfighter to understand challenges, solve problems, create new capabilities and provide essential support.

"The warfare center was the executive agent to purchase, to create, to design, to develop USS Trayer," said Nakagawa.

Trayer and Battle Stations 21, the culmination of basic training and a recruit's last evolution in boot camp, was a "creative culmination and connection of the requirements from the (Navy's) training community with the themed-entertainment industry and what they could do in creating this fully immersive suspension of disbelief, evaluation and training tool like nothing else in the Navy," Nakagawa said. "It was a little bit of a reach out on faith that we could make it work and it has, in fact, done that very well and is completely doing its mission."

Nakagawa added that periodically getting together with his staff, NSTC and RTC for meetings and discussions will go a long way in ensuring Trayer and Battle Stations continues to meet its mission in the future.

Scott Barnes serves as NAWCTSD's onsite engineering agent to RTC, providing such life cycle support tasks as configuration management, problem analysis, overhaul coordination, and system modification, for Battle Stations 21, the USS Missouri Small Arms Marksmanship Trainer (SAMT), and the Recruit Basic Firefighting Trainer, USS Chief.

Barnes called the summit a good idea because "it enables all the partners in the program to look to create ways to deal with obsolescence, how we deal with overhaul requirements and how we deal with modification requirements to meet all the training objectives."

Barnes said that Rear Adm. Mewbourne asked NAWCTSD to come to Great Lakes and assist in the development of support documents and the summit went a long and good way to identifying the requirements and coming up with ways to attack and support the requirements.

"We were able to come up with a total lifecycle support plan. And when you talk about lifecycle, you are talking cradle to grave and coming up with a full package deal for the sustainment and modernization of Battle Stations 21," said Barnes.

The group also had a chance to tour Trayer as Battle Stations was being conducted for more than 300 recruits set to graduate on Jan. 24. They were able to see the beginning of the training on the night of Jan. 22 and the end of the training the early morning of Jan. 23. This included a capping ceremony where recruits officially become Sailors by changing out their Recruit ball caps and donning their new Navy ball caps indicating their successful completion of Battle Stations aboard Trayer.

Before recruits graduate from boot camp, they spend an entire night on board Trayer loading stores, getting underway, handling mooring lines, manning general quarter stations, stopping floods and combating shipboard fires. It is as close to being underway as a recruit can get before they receive orders to their first ship. It is also the final evaluation of a recruit's reactions in tight situations and a chance for the recruit to see how far they have come in their training.

Battle Stations 21 uses lessons learned from actual events, attacks and mishaps at sea. The 2000 terrorist attack on USS Cole (DDG 67) in Yemen, mine damage to USS Tripoli (LPH 10) in Desert Storm in 1990 and the missile attack to USS Stark (FFG 31) in the Persian Gulf in 1987 have all been incorporated into the training curriculum, along with past and historic at-sea accidents, like the fire on board USS Forrestal (CV 59) during the Vietnam War in 1967.

With the guidance of NAWCTSD, Trayer was designed by award-winning Hollywood set designers and has state-of-the-art special effects technology. There are scenes and flats on the pier that can be changed to make it look like the ship has pulled into a new port.

Trayer sits in a pool of more than 90,000 gallons of water and there is a lighting system to make it look day or night on the pier. The scenery and setting is the first thing the more than 80 recruits from each division see before boarding the destroyer for their "underway" time.

RTC is primarily responsible for conducting the initial Navy orientation and training of new recruits. The command is commonly referred to as "boot camp" or "recruit training" and has been in operation at Great Lakes since 1911.

Boot camp is approximately eight weeks, and all enlistees into the United States Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms, firefighting and shipboard damage control and lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. Since the closure of RTCs in Orlando and San Diego in 1994, RTC Great Lakes is today the Navy's only basic training location, and is known as "The Quarterdeck of the Navy." Today, more than 39,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.

Source: Naval Air Systems Command
Date: Jan 30, 2014