Ahmet Berat İLHAN, MSOR / email@example.com
Information Systems Subject Matter Expert, HAVELSAN
Submarine Combat Information Centre (CIC) Concept, developed by HAVELSAN, is designed to be compliant with human perception and comprehension abilities and expectations, allowing face-to-face communication, minimising human error and increasing commander’s control and performance. Maximizing the situational awareness within CIC, through a design with workflow processes, is also targeted as the primary concern.
CIC: The Brain of the Submarine
Submarines are managed from the CIC, and as such, it could be called as the brain of the submarine. Within the CIC, Command Control Systems (CCS) and Combat Management Systems (CMS), and their supporting subsystems and devices are present.
As in many fields, “future submarines” will inevitably contain many interconnected technological features such as, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, deep learning, big data, decision support, Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous systems, augmented and visual reality, touch and mimic control, and similar human-computer interaction methods as these features continuously expand their reach.
However, in system designs, it is often ignored that said smart technologies and software with smart features ultimately must interact with humans, especially in complex systems like CIC, which contains a set of subsystems.
As technology marches on, the relationship between man and machine is ever more important. The ergonomic features of new systems not only concern the physical environment. They also concern the mental perception of the systems, ease of use and ease of control. Perception, comprehension, and concentration capabilities of the operators must be considered in order to design successful systems.
In the majority of current applications, the command and combat systems within CIC consist of a “system layout” comprised of subsystems and devices complying with physical size limitations and technological requirements.
However, when CIC is considered with the Commander’s viewpoint in mind, when the perfectly fine subsystems are taken as a whole, obstacles that affect communication between the Commander and the operators may appear. For example the operators are sitting at their workstations with their back towards the Commander, the Commander may have difficulties in seeing the monitors with the operator seats in the way, or the Commander may have to move between stations repeatedly.
Even though working as a team in need of high coordination and being physically so close in CIC, having limited face-to-face communication is another area of conflict with human perception.
This is exactly where the human-environment interaction, as important as human-machine interaction, manifests itself.
Submarine CIC Concept, developed by HAVELSAN with human-environment interaction at the forefront, is designed to meet all kinds of combat, machine, and internal management needs of the submarine.
As 40-50 years pass between the first design drafts of a submarine to its obsolescence, the design is expected to meet the personnel, operation, and logistic demands over the next 50 years, making a futuristic vision grounded on reality a must in deciding the design and the technology that will be used.
As such, a realistic-futuristic design perspective has been adopted by HAVELSAN, as the fundamental approach in creating the concept design, with “designing the future” as its goal.
The realistic part of submarine CIC design approach is based on human-environment interaction while human-machine interaction plays the same role for the futuristic part, all the while considering the current and near-future technologies.
Increased Control for the Commander and Better Personnel Communication
Prior to the design process, the location of CIC in various classes of submarines and the difficulties encountered in CIC internal layout were taken into account, the problems were identified, and design principles to reduce or eliminate the identified problems were developed.
In the design of CIC, it is aimed to create a working atmosphere that is compatible with the physical and conceptual needs of the operators that will enable the personnel to perform their duties effectively through reducing the human error to a minimum.
CIC has been given a separate and isolated structure so that the activities in other parts of the submarine do not disturb the concentration of CIC personnel.
The Submarine Commander, just as an orchestra conductor, is located at the center of the consoles which are placed in a circular layout and facing towards the center to increase his/her dominance over CIC.
In other words, a layout that is based on an orchestra layout is designed to facilitate the control of the submarine Commander to the whole CIC, to reduce personnel error to the minimum, and to maximise the communication between the personnel by allowing face-to-face interaction and establishing eye contact with each other for easier perception of ongoing events.
Physical space is a valuable and limited resource in submarines that must be managed efficiently. In the design, the layout has been optimised to use the limited area as efficiently as possible.
Taking the advantage of the technology console structures and positions are modified to allow face-to-face communication. Multifunctional Consoles have basic, user friendly and space saving design. Consoles are compatible with personnel requirements, including reflectable two-sided console screen and safety and physical conveniences.
Another limited resource is the personnel of the submarine. As acquiring submarine personnel is a difficult, risky, and costly process to maintain, utilising technology to reduce the needed personnel to a minimum while fulfilling all the complex tasks needed to run the submarine effectively has been considered a design constraint.
Preliminary Work for Unmanned Submarines
The design also demonstrates a hybrid submarine design with a minimum number of personnel, a design between the current submarine models and completely autonomous systems. As such, it provides a comprehensive infrastructure readiness for unmanned submarines.
In case of technologies developing to make unmanned submarines operationally possible, especially developments in acoustic communication technologies, the designed CIC can be set up in a suitable platform or a land-based command centre to remotely control the unmanned submarine.
Architecture Suitable for All Information or Crisis Centres
The design is suitable for usage within various platforms other than submarines or even various land-based information or crisis centres as it implements a physical layout compatible with human perception and comprehension capabilities and expectations.
Similarities Between Submarines and Spaceships
When the illustrations of the designs are first seen, the most common reaction is that the design resembles a spaceship. The main goal of the design is providing situational awareness within CIC through improving the communication capabilities of the personnel, especially the Commander, both between each other and their surroundings, however, the design also resemble the bridge of a spaceship one often sees in science fiction movies.
In today’s operational area, the leading platforms capable of performing in a 3-dimensional environment with long mission endurance are submarines. Submarines are expected to perform a wide range of tasks, and they include systems to execute said missions, and they are also capable of meeting most of the social and logistical needs of the personnel.
As submarines are capable of performing long-term missions and meeting the operational and personnel needs that is required for said missions, especially in a 3-dimensional and dark environment, it would not be wrong to think submarines are similar to spaceships or space stations in science fiction.
Submarines existed long before the spaceships, and this fact should not been overseen. In other words, perhaps the spaceships resemble submarines instead of the other way around.
In this respect, “it looks like a spaceship” reaction given at the first glance is actually very justified as described above.
Benefits of the Design
- CIC has been given a separate and isolated structure so that the activities in other parts of the submarine do not disturb the concentration of CIC personnel.
- The Submarine Commander is located at the centre of the console, device, and systems, placed like a maestro in an orchestra, which increases his/her control over CIC.
- A layout compatible with the duties, responsibilities and work processes of the CIC personnel has been provided.
- The Commander and personnel can easily make unobstructed and continuous eye contact with each other.
- Three large multi-functional screens are used where the required data such as the Tactical Maritime Picture (TMP), periscope image, damage status etc. in various console, device, and systems are collected and then presented, either combined or individually.
- The large screens have a wide viewing angle and are easily visible to a maximum number of personnel.
- To provide for the most effective access to the data or information needed, screen selection capabilities are present.
- In the centre of the CIC, a horizontal console integrated with the Command Console is used which can display the TMP and host planning and briefing activities around it.
- The horizontal console is also designed in an ergonomic way where the Electronic Map (WECDIS) layers can be displayed, allowing both the Commander and the relevant CIC personnel to use it at the same time.
- Control functions of console, device, and systems, warnings and notifications have a lean design.
- Easy access to information is provided with the Double-Sided Console Screen Display.
- Data entry tools such as joysticks, roll balls, various touch/push buttons, etc. are designed in an ergonomic and user-friendly way.
- In the design of the consoles, safety elements (e.g., seat belts or handles), and amenities (e.g., consuming tea and coffee during the shift and eating rations) were taken into consideration.
- The design aims to optimise the layout and utilise the limited area as efficient as possible.
- The design provides a comprehensive infrastructure readiness for unmanned submarines.
- The design is suitable for usage within various platforms other than submarines or even various land-based information or crisis centres.
For more detailed information on HAVELSAN’s CIC Concept, click on the link