Australia’s 12 new Project SEA 1000 Attack class submarines are forecast to cost some $50 billion, with about one-fifth of that amount due to be allocated to the all important combat system.
So making sure that very complex system works for its human operators is a priority.
Lockheed Martin Australia’s John Towers is leading the human systems integration program. He says it’s his responsibility and that of his team was to ensure the design of the combat system allowed operators to perform at the optimal level.
That ranges from physical design of combat system elements through to task design – the level of cognitive effort which needed to be applied to any task.
“We are responsible for ensuring that is not excessive and they have the right information at the right time in the right format to perform the tasks that we are expecting them to,” Towers told ADBR at the PACIFIC 2019 International Maritime Exposition on October 8.
Quite how that was done was through a well-established engineering methodology for human factors, he said. That started with establishing a baseline of understanding based around the combat system on the Navy’s six Collins-class submarines.
“We have done sea rides, observed training and interviewed submariners and what that helps us do is get a starting point and baseline to establish early task models,” he said.
“We develop high level scenarios and then the underlying work flow and roles and role interaction, heavily leveraging in the first instance off Collins but mindful it is going to evolve with new functions and optimisation of operations.”
Next step is simulation, using a commercial simulation tool. “We have invested heavily on human system integration on the program to the point where we have a really well established best practice for these activities and it has given us an opportunity to really leverage that and start developing some of our own tools that take it to the next level.”
That will be followed by physical design, currently using some cardboard mockups of workstations, and bringing in the Navy and looking at lines of sight.
“We are building a very representative combat system simulator,” Towers said. “As part of that we will start getting submariners into the lab, having them dynamically work with the combat system and we will extract performance measures of how well they are doing.”
But with the first of the Attack class boats not due to be in the water for more than a decade, the final design of the combat system and the submarine control room is still some time away.