The Submarine Force achieved a major step toward FORCEnet capability July 1, with the completion of the first of three steps toward full Internet Protocol, or IP-based, communications, achieving forcewide IP connectivity.
This is an important step for the Submarine Force and the fleet.
“The submarine architecture is a baseline to begin this process,” said Vice Adm. James D. McArthur Jr., commander, Naval Network Warfare Command. “The Submarine Force, due to its size and particular communication paths, is leading the charge."
A key concept and enabler of FORCEnet is the ability to share and exchange information quickly and easily across diverse platforms and distances. Legacy systems have enabled part of this vision but limit the type of information (usually text) and are point-to-point exchange events. Transition to IP-based information exchange removes these limitations and offers other benefits, including path independence, increased capability and return on investment.
Submarines will have full access to IP-based services, including tactical information exchange, Web browsing, e-mail, file transfer, etc., while operating at sea, a task that was extremely cumbersome, if not impossible, in the recent past. This is the first step toward completing the migration to full IP-based communications and eventually achieving FORCEnet objectives.
For the submarine, IP-based information exchange has distinctly improved capability. The installation of Automated Digital Network System enables all submarines to connect to the SIPRNET via a reliable radio frequency (RF) path, namely Extremely High Frequency and Ultra High Frequency. IP Connectivity links existing shipboard tactical and non-tactical networks to the worldwide fleet and shore network infrastructure.
For the submarine crews, it means better communication with their families back home. The crew can send personal email via the Sailor-mail system. Previous communication with families was limited to Familygrams, 50 word telegrams sent from home. Each crew member received
eight to 10 of these Familygrams per deployment due to the physical limitations of the legacy systems used for transmitting these messages.
The Submarine Force IP transition plan will be integral to the Chief of Naval Operations-directed Fleet Assured IP plan. This initiative toward the common architecture of RF links and network paths will be important for the submarine’s future success as a member of the fleet and as a joint warfighter.