Navy christens new Network Operations Center

The Navy stands a good chance of obtaining the budget it needs to complete an enormous shiptoshore automation project about five years ahead of schedule.

NORFOLK, Va.—- The Navy's Atlantic Fleet opened a new network facility here today that will boost the performance and security of network services available to ships at sea.

The Network Operations Center (NOC) serves as the interface among deployed forces, Navy networks here in Norfolk and the Defense Departmentwide Defense Information Systems Network. The majority of the carriers and large-deck amphibious ships based here and deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf have high-bandwidth satellite equipment that ties them into the NOC.

Capt. Nancy Brown, commander of the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station, Area Master Station, Atlantic, said, "The new NOC features higher-capacity servers that provide the new center with increased security capabilities and the ability to manage bandwidth better."

RM1 David Ryman said new equipment in the NOC includes three high-powered firewall servers serving secure and unclassified Internet Protocol networks; those servers are based on 300 MHz Pentium computers from Dell Computer Corp. These systems replace a single Hewlett-Packard Co. server that, with its slower speed and throughput, delayed data traffic going to the fleet, Ryman said. "We were running out of memory on the old firewall," he said, "and this affected the ships we were supporting."

The new center also should reduce network congestion with new Web caching systems, said Lt. Cmdr. Laura Boehm, the officer in charge of the NOC.

Cache is a type of readily accessible storage reserved for frequently required information. Web caching should significantly reduce bandwidth demand by deployed forces by storing popular Web pages in a cache on a PC behind the firewall, Boehm said. This will permit ships to "grab information" from the centralized cache much faster than "going out on the Web" every time they want something new. Boehm estimated that 50 percent of the bandwidth demands from deployed forces is Web-related.

The NOC also features two new virus scanners running Norton anti-virus software that checks traffic on the secure and unclassified networks. "This is the first time we've had the capability to scan electronic mail going to the fleet for viruses," Ryman said. The virus scanners also run on Dell servers.

In addition to serving the satellite-linked forces, the NOC for the first time will provide frigates and other small ships with the ability to dial in to the network through International Maritime Satellite links, Brown said.

NEXT STORY: Raines leaving as OMB director

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