Thursday, August 28, 2008

RAND: An Examination of Options to Reduce Underway Training Days Through the Use of Simulation

An Examination of Options to Reduce Underway Training Days Through the Use of Simulation

By: Roland J. Yardley, Harry J. Thie, Christopher Paul, Jerry M. Sollinger, Alisa Rhee

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.

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