Navy installing first CANES system

Strategic report

Navy personnel on Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius discuss blueprints for the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services program.

The Navy’s next-generation shipboard tactical computing system is expected to set sail in the spring aboard a San Diego-based destroyer, the first of 23 ships scheduled to receive the system in an initial deployment.

Installation of the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) system aboard the U.S.S. Milius began Dec. 17 and is expected to take 18 weeks, Navy officials said. At least seven other vessels are slated to have CANES installed by October, with the balance installed in fiscal 2014.

Northrop Grumman Information Systems is handling the initial shipboard installations under a $638 million contract awarded in February 2012. A full-scale production decision is expected by the end of fiscal 2014, which would lead to the new system being aboard 192 vessels by 2020, officials said.

The process of installing CANES, which replaces five legacy networks and greatly enhances information security, had been delayed in part by ongoing wrangling over the federal budget.

CANES program managers hope the continuing crisis won’t further delay the process. A last-minute deal delayed the $500 billion in automatic cuts to Pentagon spending that were to take effect Jan. 2, but only for two months, and the department is operating through the first months of fiscal 2013 under a continuing resolution that runs out in March.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus warned on Jan. 13 that IT spending and spending on future operations would be reduced unless a more permanent solution to the budget crisis is found before the “fiscal cliff” is reached.

“Obviously we’re a little concerned with the fiscal cliff and what that could do to funding,” said Michael R. Twyman, defense systems division vice president and general manager for Northrop Grumman Information Systems.

CANES is being developed in tandem with a new shore-based IT system, the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), as part of the Navy’s plan to have an integrated computing environment in place by 2016.

It’s “a major upgrade to the network and the computing capability” aboard Navy ships and “is being developed to the very highest levels of [information assurance] requirements,” Twyman said.

As such, there’s some urgency to increase the pace of installations , since the legacy networks are no longer capable of handling increased shipboard bandwidth requirements and can’t provide adequate cyber security in today’s high-threat environment, Capt. D.J. LeGoff, the Navy’s CANES program manager, told reporters in a Dec. 21 conference call.

“We’re trying to get those platforms that have the oldest and most problematic networks replaced first,” he said.

The installations are being scheduled to coincide with regular maintenance availabilities for the U.S.S. Milius and other targeted ships so as not to further delay them from being available for deployment, LeGoff said. He added that officials hope to find ways of accelerating the process further.

“We’re going to look at every avenue we can to shorten availabilities and get to more ships faster,” said Rear Adm. Jerry Burroughs, the Navy’s program executive officer for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence.

Connectivity aboard Navy ships around the world is provided by the Commercial Broadband Satellite Program, which provides increased broadband access to handle the increased networking capabilities. Intelsat General manages the program, now in the third year of a five-year, $543 million contract.

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