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GW's Combat Systems Tests Defense Weapons During Sea Trials

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070908-06
Release Date: 9/8/2007 1:23:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jennifer Apsey, USS George Washington Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- As USS George Washington (CVN 73) (GW) conducted sea trials Aug. 27-30, Sailors from the ship's Combat Systems Department were busy testing weapons systems in preparation for GW's return to the fleet as a fully operational unit.

Many of GW's weapons systems were either upgraded or replaced with newer ones during the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier's recent $300 million, 11-month Planned Incremental Availability plus Docking.

Various tests were done to check each system's reliability and accuracy.

"Everything is new so we have to test not only our new gear but everything that was touched [by technicians] during our time in the shipyard," said Senior Chief Fire Controlman (SW/AW) Alex Gnatiuk, Combat Systems maintenance manager. "We are working with civilians who are experts on the new systems. It's on the job training and we're learning as we go."

One addition is GW's new ship's self defense system console (SSDS), a series of new computers and consoles in the combat direction center that detects anything from submarines to aircraft. The ship also received a feature known as the cooperative engagement capability (CEC), which allows the ship to interact more effectively with other ships in the battle group.

Additionally, GW received upgrades to the close-in weapons system (CIWS) mounts. The mounts were changed to Block 1 Bravo, which provides new surface capabilities as well as fixed-wing aircraft defense and optical sighting.

"The CIWS tracks the target coming in and tracks the bullets going out," Gnatiuk said. "Within 10 rounds it will hit the target. It's intended purpose is to disable the airframe so that it crashes into the ocean before it gets to us."

To assess accuracy of all control systems and radars, Combat Systems' Sailors conduct detect, track and engage (DTE) events on a target, where all ship's sensors are used to detect a target at the furthest range possible then track it as it gets closer.

"We run DTE's every time we go out and are close enough to get aircraft services," Gnatiuk said. "All this has proven that our new Capstone installation we [received]in the shipyard is working properly."

Before performing DTE's, alignment checks must be performed on the equipment. During these alignment runs, Lear jets fly out to the ship making multiple runs at various speeds, enabling Combat Systems to test the accuracy of their detection devices. This allows them to gather data so the system recognizes the difference between where the radar thinks it's supposed to be and where the target actually is located.

"We then enter data into the system and it acts as a correction to the system," Gnatiuk said. "This way it always knows where to point at any given target."

"As long as the alignment run goes well and we get enough information we try the DTE's," Gnatiuk said.

Gnatiuk believes that the more training they have with the weapons systems, the more confident the crew will become.

"Everything we are doing is in preparation for where we will be in six months," Gnatiuk said. "We all work together to ensure we are protected and carry out the mission of the GW."

Along with the SSDS, CEC, and CIWS, GW installed the new SPQ-9 Bravo, both an air and surface search radar.

"It's going to provide us weapons coverage so any area of the ship will be covered by two different weapons for self defense reasons," said Lt. Cmdr. Ralph Roe, GW's Combat Systems maintenance officer.

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