Navy picks pair for shipboard network support

Program will bring service into next-generation command and control

Defense contracting giants Northrop Grumman Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. will assist the Navy with its Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) program under separate contract awards. CANES is designed to streamline and consolidate Navy information technology networks aboard its ships, and will facilitate naval progress in employing new technologies.

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The initial awards cover infrastructure development for the program, while additional future awards are expected in the spring for follow-on procurement. Northrop Grumman's contract is potentially worth $775 million, and Lockheed Martin's is potentially worth $937 million, Navy officials said.

“The primary goals of the CANES program are to build a secure afloat network required for naval and joint operations, and consolidate and reduce the number of afloat networks through the use of mature cross domain technologies and common computing environment infrastructure,” according to the Navy’s contract award announcement released March 4.

The implementation of CANES will help bring next-generation command and control to the Navy, integrating servers, workstations, and networking systems with the Navy’s shore-based Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) and the naval portion of the Global Information Grid.

“CANES will help move the Navy from platform-centric to information-centric,” said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting.

The Navy faces a number of challenges as it tackles CANES, beginning with the disparate systems and physical plants associated with a range of types ships afloat. The Navy historically has had a lot of decentralized decision-making and acquisitions, resulting in an inventory of vessels and systems that is not necessarily uniform, Suss said.

“These ships are all different. You can’t take commercial off-the-shelf technologies and just apply them,” Suss said.

Additional challenges arise from the limited bandwidth at sea as well as the transitions between afloat and shore-based systems, for which consistency is necessary in order to sailors and their systems to plug-in at port, Suss added.

CANES’ progress “reflects the growing importance of IT infrastructure and systems in warfare,” Suss said. “It’s going to improve command and control operations and effectiveness.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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