- By Bob Brewin
- Apr 04, 1999
ABOARD THE USS KITTY HAWK—IT-21 ON THE BRIDGE. Sitting high above the complex ballet of aircraft and crew on this aircraft carrier's flight deck, Capt. Matt Touhy's eyes do not stop moving as he guides the ship through the flight operations off the coast of Saipan (the largest of the Marianas Islands) in the Western Pacific. One second he checks a just-landed Tomcat, the next he focuses on a Hornet moving toward a catapult, and the next he pauses at his computer screen to check an e-mail message.
E-mail has made its way to the domain of a job that required multitasking long before the phrase entered the lexicon, and the already well-occupied Touhy finds his bridge connection to the ship's recently installed Navy-standard IT-21 network a real plus. Besides overseeing flight operations, Touhy manages a business involving 4,000 workers with a computer terminal that sits on a shelf built around his captain's chair. "I spend 14 to 15 hours a day up here when we're at sea,'' Touhy said, "and this is the way I communicate with the rest of the ship.''
Touhy did make what he called an "ergonomic fix'' to his bridge IT-21 terminal, replacing the boxy monitor with a slimmer one so that he could see the action better. "This lowers the physical profile,'' said Touhy, who added that the smaller monitor makes it easier for the others who stand watch on the bridge to look out the windows behind him at landing aircraft.
JET BLAST AND SILICON. The Kitty Hawk network runs on high-powered Asynchronous Transfer Mode switches, and the ship's automatic data processing crew reported a rough shakedown cruise because the systems were designed to work in a stable office building, not in one of the toughest environments on Earth.
"Office buildings don't vibrate and roll,'' said Master Chief Petty Officer Darren Miller as he explained some of the problems the crew faces in keeping the switches operating. Lt. Mark Bibeau, the ship's ADP officer, wondered if the people who designed the Kitty Hawk network "had ever been on an aircraft carrier'' because the designers decided to locate "one of the switches in the jet engine shop."
THE DOW IN THE BOW. To conserve bandwidth, the Kitty Hawk ADP crew surfs the Internet and then posts up-to-the-minute news, weather and sports scores on the ship's intranet, which cuts down on traffic to external sites over the ship's T-1 Challenge Athena satellite link. Prominently featured on the Kitty Hawk intranet home page is a box that carries frequently updated stock market indicators, including the New York Stock Exchange Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Radioman 2nd Class Chuckie Hall, who helps trouble-shoot the Xylan Corp. switches, explained, "There's a lot of interest on board in the stock market.''
It sure is a new Navy.
THEN THERE WAS ORDER. April 1 marked the 106th anniversary of the establishment of the rank of chief petty officer in the Navy. Admirals may get all the fame and glory, but chiefs, as the saying goes, really run the Navy. As anyone who ever met a truly salty chief well knows, they are not shy about their talents and capabilities.
During a tour of the Kitty Hawk's highly digitized photo shop, the Interceptor asked Leading Chief Mahlon Miller what existed before the establishment of the CPO rank. Miller provided a very chief-like one-word answer: "Chaos!''