US Navy Utilizes Virtual Reality At Sea

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Flight deck crews on aircraft carriers perform carefully coordinated operations to launch and recover planes safely from and to busy aircraft carriers. Their operational skills are based on intensive training and instruction. The US Navy is embracing modern technology to train aircraft carrier sailors of tomorrow, today, in a virtual reality-based method, described by the Navy as “high-velocity” learning.

Virtual reality enables immersive training. By donning virtual reality goggles, a student enters the alternative, yet, practically authentic world of an operational 100,000-ton aircraft carrier at-sea. It’s designed to meet the instructional needs, expectations, and skillsets of tech-savvy young sailors who grew up on XBox and Wii, and iPhone is the environment they are the most familiar with.

The system, called “C-ARTS” or “Carrier-Advanced Reconfigurable Training System.” Using state-of-the-art animation, along with augmented, virtual, and mixed reality learning tools, C-ARTS allows sailors to practice and perfect the flight deck operations they’ll perform for real when they deploy, according to The sailors get all the simulated hands-on training they need, at a fraction of the cost of actual underway operations, all from the comparative safety and comfort of being on dry land.

The VR training program is the result of a collaboration between the Office of Naval Research Global TechSolutions program and the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division. The system is “an expandable framework of game-based immersive 3D technologies that allows for individual, team or multiteam training events,” according to ONR. 

Two trailers set up near the carrier piers at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia were recently inaugurated, where USS Gerald R. Ford personnel can go to hone their skills. Two more mobile labs are in place at Newport News Shipbuilding, Virginia for the Kennedy sailors to use.

“Now we’ve brought the training to them, so the opportunity for them to step off the ship, come over here, get the training and get right back, it’s so convenient,” said RADM Roy Kelley, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic.

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