The U.S. navy has spent $9.6 billion for R & D of the futuristic Zumwalt class destroyers named after Admiral Elmo Zumwalt. The ship is worth $3.5 billion with stealth capacities and enhanced survivability and fire power. Enabling all this and more is an off-the-shelf Linux server hardware. There are more than 6 million software code lines.
All Guns Blazing
Specialist engineers had assembled as well as pre-tested the operating systems on board the ship in Portsmouth’s Raytheon owned center. The under-construction USS Michael Monsoor is next in line to be fitted with the same system. The center boasts of a replica of Zumwalt’s operating center from where various operating procedures like launch of missiles, guns and the control of the warship’s sensors will all be carried out.
Screens Big and Small
USS Enterprise, the fictional ship had features that resemble Zumwalt than the real ships of the navy at present. The consoles will all have touch screens with software to take on any of the operator’s needs. The forward bulkhead will be fitted with big screens wherein one can see tactical missions at sea, land and air displayed.
Ruggedization to the rescue
The ships that were fitted with computer systems earlier had to switch off entire non-tactical systems if the guns were to be fired. If it is not done, the systems would crash due to shock and vibration. To overcome this problem, the computer systems were ruggedized individually. The drawback is the escalation of the cost as well as the more sophisticated maintenance routine.
Linux in EMEs
Engineers have succeeded in solving the problem by putting to use the off-the-shelf hardware comprising IBM blade servers that run Red Hat Linux. They have put the hardware in a server room that was ruggedized. Raytheon had built these self-contained data centers which are known as Electronic Modular Enclosures (EMEs). The ship has 16 of them in all.
Pre-integration in Maine
The sixteen EMEs were shipped to bath, Maine, in order to be installed on Zumwalt after they were configured and pre-tested. The EMEs are not exactly compact at 35 x 8 x 12 feet. This method employed by Raytheon has resulted in reducing the cost of hardware. It also has enabled Raytheon to pre-integrate the systems. This procedure was resorted to when they realized that the cost will go down when compared to doing it in the shipyard. Also, that they did not have the constraints of time.
Typically, an EME processes systems that tend to damp shock and vibration, power protection and cooling systems. The possibility of the radar and other transmitters of radio frequency in the ship interfering with the operations is done away with by electronic shielding.
Voice Over IP
The ship’s internet network is called Total Ship Computing Environment and the EMEs tap into them. The TSCE connects the systems over internet protocols. Communications, sensors, weapons and engineering systems etc. all come into its ambit. The internal communication on board the ship is based entirely on voice over IP. The only exceptions are the traditional phones for emergencies.
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Thank you, TiA
- Zumwalt-class destroyer visited by Sec. Hagel (upi.com)
- Raytheon awarded $75 million for DDG 1000 program (nosint.blogspot.com)
- General Dynamics, Honeywell, Raytheon pick up $243M in Pentagon work (bizjournals.com)