Simulation and Training

ONR generates a 3D simulator for submarine training

The military’s use of virtual environments and simulations for training can include some pretty exotic scenarios, but they’re also addressing things such as the seemingly mundane but very necessary job of operating and repairing emergency generators aboard Virginia-class nuclear submarines.

The Office of Naval Research’s TechSolutions program has created a diesel generator simulator that enables sailors to use 50-inch touch screens with 3D software called the Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System to access and simulate parts of generators aboard the advanced Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines.    

The training model is expected to save the Navy up to $27 million in cost avoidance because generators will not have to be built to train soldiers on repair. The service expects to use some of its savings to expand training capabilities.

The interactive simulation enables maintenance personnel to fiddle with knobs and get a true sense of the machinery. “The improvements include expansion of the Machinery Room where the simulators will be placed, allowing greater immersion and multiple-mission scenarios that until now had been largely confined to the classroom,” according to a release.

“This will be a big help for the fleet, getting sailors more training time and providing potentially significant cost savings,” said Jessie Thomas, ONR Command Master Chief. “It has been challenging for all the sailors who need training on these generators to get enough work time on the actual boats—particularly given that the subs can be out to sea for extended periods.”

The 3D model has gained high praise for its practical implications as well. “The beauty of the system is that it should reduce the amount of lab time, while increasing the scenarios the instructor can put the studentsthrough,” said Darrell Conley, project manager for Virginia diesel program at Naval Air Warfare Training Systems Division. “The software can be loaded on any MRTS 3D trainer in the fleet, allowing any boat to schedule required training.”

Not only does the TechSolutions program take suggestions from sailors regarding technology solutions, its generator simulator is part of ONR’s response to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert’s Navigation Plan 2015-2019, which, in part, calls for “development and fielding of live, virtual and constructive training environments to provide more realistic training at a reduced cost.” 


About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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