Virtual Modeling of Communications Equipment

Submarines are called upon to perform many different missions. Their ability to move quietly, without detection, into troubled areas throughout the world against potential enemies of the United States makes them a valuable asset to the defense of our country.

USS Virginia (SSN 774) is newest class of submarine in the U.S. Navy fleet. Virginia was designed as a multi-purpose platform. Her mission includes direct battle group support, open- ocean anti-submarine detection and tracking, and Special Operations Forces (SOF) support (U.S. Navy SEALS, USMC Recon, U.S. Army Rangers, etc.). The Virginia class has been designed to fight a different war scenario than her predecessor submarines. She is well suited for coastal and littoral defense operations in shallower coastal regions.

In order to accomplish the multi-mission capability, rapid equipment change-out must be effected for the limited space inside the submarine. In addition, many of the components used for connectivity and communications are Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) units. COTS components are linked together through commercial routers and LAN systems to provide a state- of-the-art communications suite which can be updated quickly as technology moves forward.

BC Engineering and Design (BCED) was tasked with developing fixtures, brackets, and mounts that would accommodate the COTS equipment while providing shock and vibration functionality as required by U.S. Navy shipboard installation standards. Engineers at BCED worked closely with EDO personnel to design a fold-away work table that would work as a laptop station or a multipurpose bench on the SOF equipment rack. The design was well received and incorporated as a permanent design change rather than the initial temporary installation.

Figure 1. shows a complete arrangement of equipment including a folding shelf that can be stowed out of the way when not in use. Figure 2. is an equipment drawer mounted on slides. The slide mount allows rack-out for routine maintenance and trouble- shooting of problems as well as reconfiguration. The equipment chosen for the installation was commercial grade computer power supplies and routing components used in most business and industrial applications.

Engineers at BC Engineering and Design used Pro/ENGINEER® software to model the components and develop the fixtures, drawers, and folding shelf. The design was reviewed by Electronics Technicians at ITT for operability and for developing an installation plan. BC Engineering and Design personnel created the individual component fabrication drawings, bills of material (BOMs), and assembly drawings. BCED engineers provided Weight and Moment data for each design modification.

After the parts were fabricated a test installation was performed in a laboratory environment at ITT. Minor design changes were incorporated and the drawings were updated before installation on the submarine. The overall affect was an increase in efficiency, time and cost savings.