Pacific Fleet's IT-21 completion delayed

The Navy's shipboard systems modernization program, Information Technology

for the 21st Century, will not be completed in the Pacific Fleet until fiscal

2005, the fleet's commander said last week.

Upon launching the program in 1997, then-Pacific Fleet Commander Adm.

Archie Clemins outlined an ambitious rollout schedule in which IT-21 would

be completed in fiscal 2001. But because of funding shortfalls and the busy

deployment schedules of the fleet's 190 ships, the schedule has slipped,

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander in Chief Adm. Thomas Fargo said during a speech

last week at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's

TechNet Asia-Pacific 2000 conference in Honolulu.

"My job, as I see it, is to bring this horse home," said Fargo, who

took command from Clemins in October 1999.

IT-21 was intended to bridge the technology gap between the Navy's onshore

installations and its ships. But now, the IT-21 program may get folded into

the Navy Marine Corps Intranet procurement, which means that the Navy would

purchase voice, video and data services from contractor Electronic Data

Systems Corp. for its ships.

Ron Turner, the Navy's deputy chief information officer for infrastructure,

systems and technology, said last month that department officials are trying

to determine if IT-21 is within the scope of NMCI.

To adjust to the schedule slip while still getting "a meaningful IT

capability to the fleet as quickly as possible," Fargo said Pacific Fleet

officials developed a minimum IP capability to provide some form of wideband

satellite communications, a local-area network, the ability to send classified

and unclassified e-mail, and key information management on board.

IT-21 has given Navy ships better interoperability and readiness, with

the installation of Asynchronous Transfer Mode networking equipment and

Microsoft Corp. Windows NT 4.0 software. In addition, all sailors have e-mail

access, which Fargo called the Navy's greatest morale booster during the

past 15 years because it's easier for them to communicate with family members

and loved ones while deployed.

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