Navy to Showcase MRTS Submarine Training System at West 2016

Non-submariners can get a rare sneak peek into the bowels of a submarine’s control centers during the upcoming sea services conference in San Diego next week. Well, sort of. It’s not a peek into an actual boat's radio control room, for example, but an opportunity to see and touch equipment that simulates a variety of shipboard systems.

Don’t feel cheated, however. The display features the same equipment submariners themselves train on. The Navy plans to showcase its new 3-D, Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System (MRTS) at West 2016 at the San Diego Convention Center on February 17 to 19. The 5,000-pound MRTS system features multitouch liquid crystal display screens that precisely simulate the real thing, experts say.

The technology makes the most of commercial-off-the-shelf hardware and software components, and a single trainer can shift between multiple applications within minutes to provide sailors the capability to use a device that offers photo-realistic virtual training on several different systems in a single day, says Bruce Rasmussen, training MRTS lead at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic.

The MRTS provides a virtual alternative to more expensive training systems and lets the Navy migrate away from using actual tactical equipment at its training sites—saving millions of dollars, Rasmussen says. For example, tactical training equipment for a common submarine radio room used to cost the Navy about $22 million, plus $5 million to modernize and another $500,000 a year to maintain. “Imagine how many students were touching that— flipping switches, turning knobs—it breaks,” Rasmussen says. Today’s MRTS devices cost about $1.2 million and can be developed and operational within nine months.

The Navy has 11 devices up and running at seven submarine training sites. The simulators align with the Navy’s N