Atlantic Fleet prepares ship-to-shore network

NORFOLK Va. - The Navy's Atlantic Fleet (LANTFLT) which is headquartered here has embraced the Pacific Fleet's Information Technology for the 21st Century project which will provide a seamless ship-to-shore computing system.

LANTFLT has developed a coordinated plan to use IT-21 to upgrade its entire infrastructure on shore from local-area networks (LANs) serving the headquarters compound here to metropolitan-area networks (MANs) planned for the Tidewater Va. area and bases in the Mediterranean and Middle East said Ruth Ewers the fleet's deputy director for command control communications and computers (C4).

The on-shore infrastructure will work with upgrades slated for major ships in an Internet Protocol-based network that should tie together the fleet staff with shipboard users who may be an ocean away as though each was a client on an office LAN. Getting Rid of the Stovepipes Besides using an ocean-spanning wide-area network to tie together users on shore and on ships the new architecture eventually will help eliminate stovepiped information systems.

"Individually stovepipes are a good thing but in the aggregate they're killing us " said Gerry Mullins the fleet's director of C4 on-shore infrastructure. LANTFLT launched the first of its ashore IT-21 projects this summer: an ambitious effort to lease all the components of the LAN serving the fleet headquarters. "It just takes us too long to turn over the technology " Mullins said.

This Secret LAN designed to run through high-speed Asynchronous Transfer Mode switches will eventually provide service to 25 buildings 850 PCs 30 Global Command and Control System nodes and 75 Joint Maritime Command Information System Nodes said Dorothy Hennigan the fleet's director for C4 resources.

Hennigan said LANTFLT received a heavy response from industry to the leasing project and this should delay the award of the contract. Hennigan expects the fleet to award the contract by the end of this month about a month behind schedule.

Sam Katz director of information technology at LANTFLT headquarters said the leasing program focuses on the command's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network "because we do most of our business on the SIPRNET side."

Once the winner of the leasing contract starts installation Katz said he plans to take the older SIPRNET equipment and install it on the Nonclassified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNET) which has about 400 PC clients. One reason LANTFLT needs to upgrade the headquarters LAN Katz said is the proliferation of bandwidth-hungry World Wide Web pages within the command with various staff organizations hosting more than 350 home pages.

LANTFLT also relies on the current router-based LAN for message delivery and the fleet plans to "migrate all tactical and nontactical systems to the LAN " Katz said. "They'll all be collapsed into one big network." The headquarters LAN and those serving other LANTFLT commands scattered throughout the Tidewater area feed into the MAN which Mullins said also needs an upgrade to an ATM-based network that will eventually provide voice video and data to pierside connections for use by ships when in port. The ashore and afloat sides of LANTFLT systems come together in the Unified Atlantic Fleet Regional Network Operations Center (NOC) said Merrill Witzell an IT-21 system engineer for LANTFLT.

"All afloat IP router-based networks go through the NOC " Witzell said. The NOC feeds traffic either into the MAN or into long-haul networks operated by the Defense Information Systems Agency. Witzell said LANTFLT has 11 ships tied into the NOC although the IT-21 plan envisions the NOC serving as the central node for a larger number of ships.

Lt. Cmdr. Laura Boehm the officer in charge of the NOC called it the "jump-off point to the fleet " with all traffic to and from afloat users first passing through a firewall which deters hackers and intruders.

LANTFLT inherited the NOC from a Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration '94 technology demonstration project and then converted it to operational uses. The fleet also set up similar mini-NOCS in the Mediterranean and Bahrain Boehm added.

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