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Title: Human System Integration Aspects of the Redesign of the Launch and Recovery Console aboard the Littoral Combat Ship

Author(s): Darryl Updegrove and Eric Pierce

Abstract: The stern watercraft launch and recovery system used aboard the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), Independence variant (LCS 2 and LCS 4) was designed specifically to automate function typically performed manually by multiple sailors, put all controls into the hands of one person, minimize functions for smooth and easy operations while reducing learning time/training. Developmental design was performed with a prototype control panel and simulated shipboard environment and physics-based model of the watercraft. Lack of a suitable prototype ship or system meant that integration testing was performed aboard LCS 2 (USS Independence) with little to no real data on the suitability of the controls and features. Procedures were developed and verified/validated while the system was being put through initial operational testing. Not surprisingly, problems were encountered that had to be overcome for safe and efficient watercraft handling. Outline of the key points to be made in the paper Although the system was design to minimize controls required for normal operations, the control panel has a significant number of controls used for setup, casualty conditions, or adjustments to the automated features. Testing demonstrated that many of these controls were actually required for normal operations. Because the use of these controls was considered non-operational, their efficiency of use was not optimized. As testing continued it was determined that a significant amount of time during launch and recovery operations was spent switching between operational controls use, and adjusting the system before the next step. Besides the time delay, the complexity of operations increased significantly, procedures had to be rewritten to great levels of details, and the risk of mismanagement of controls/damage to equipment was increased. The decision was made to redesign the control system and control panel to improve efficiency and implement lessons learned. Recently the new control panel was tested aboard LCS 2 with operational test force personnel witnessing operations. Whereas before the OPTEVFOR evaluation was the system was a high risk to ship’s capability, the redesign resulted in the risk being closed. Operational time decreased, user interaction decreased, learning curve increased, and the overall evaluation was that the human systems integration redesign effort was a success. Conclusions/Recommendations Although simulations can help reduce or remove design problems before operational testing, many times a simulated environment does not fully address the actual issues that are experienced. Likewise, the use of subject matter experts to evaluate their own designs never evaluates adequately the learning curve, which is a key nuance in developing proper training curricula. In this case, it took actual operations at sea, with over 1 year from the time testing began until a suitable fix was identified, funded, developed, installed, and tested. However, the final result was found operationally suitable to all involved stakeholders.