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The Fourth US Navy Collision of the Year Was Ultimately Caused By UI Confusion (arstechnica.com) 220

Yesterday, the U.S. Navy issued its report on the collisions of the USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain this summer, which was the fourth U.S. Navy collision this year. "The Navy's investigation found that both collisions were avoidable accidents," reports Ars Technica. "And in the case of the USS McCain, the accident was in part caused by an error made in switching which control console on the ship's bridge had steering control. While the report lays the blame on training, the user interface for the bridge's central navigation control systems certainly played a role." From the report: According to the report, at 5:19am local time, the commanding officer of the McCain, Commander Alfredo J. Sanchez, "noticed the Helmsman (the watchstander steering the ship) having difficulty maintaining course while also adjusting the throttles for speed control." Sanchez ordered the watch team to split the responsibilities for steering and speed control, shifting control of the throttle to another watchstander's station -- the lee helm, immediately to the right (starboard) of the Helmsman's position at the Ship's Control Console. While the Ship's Control Console has a wheel for manual steering, both steering and throttle can be controlled with trackballs, with the adjustments showing up on the screens for each station. However, instead of switching just throttle control to the Lee Helm station, the Helmsman accidentally switched all control to the Lee Helm station. When that happened, the ship's rudder automatically moved to its default position (amidships, or on center line of the ship). The helmsman had been steering slightly to the right to keep the ship on course in the currents of the Singapore Strait, but the adjustment meant the ship started drifting off course.

At this point, everyone on the bridge thought there had been a loss of steering. In the commotion that ensued, the commanding officer and bridge crew lost track of what was going on around them. Sanchez ordered the engines slowed, but the lee helmsman only slowed the port (left) throttle, because the throttle controls on-screen were not "ganged" (linked) at the time as the result of the switch-over of control. The ship continued to turn uncontrolled to port -- putting the ship on a collision course with the Liberian-flagged chemical carrier Alnic MC.

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The Fourth US Navy Collision of the Year Was Ultimately Caused By UI Confusion

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  • Damn developers... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Thursday November 02, 2017 @05:44PM (#55479561)

    See? This is what happens when the project team is made up of "full-stack" developers - no one knows how to code a decent UI... That, and the whole thing was written in Angular...

    • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @05:54PM (#55479609)

      This is what happens when people get too caught up in method A that they forget about method B. The ship has a steering wheel. If the trackball method seems out of whack for even a second, someone should grab the physical wheel while the video game steering is diagnosed.

      • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @06:57PM (#55479867)

        Actually...

        As I understood the article, the issue was that the physical wheel that controlled the rudder can be moved electronically between multiple locations. The same is true with the throttles. The problem here was the physical control location got switched accidently and they lost track of where it went.

        A good UI would have two key features. First, it would have a visual indicator at ALL possible control locations where the one primary physical control was currently configured. Second, it would provide some kind of warning both when the primary control location was changed and when any physical control which was not primary was being moved.

        • EADS (Score:2, Troll)

          by Latent Heat ( 558884 )

          Who knew that the Airbus Consortium designs ships for the United States Navy?

        • by LesFerg ( 452838 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @07:57PM (#55480113) Homepage

          Yes but if you had more than one control, and one stopped working, wouldn't your first thought be to try the other one?
          I can't accept everybody just ran about waving their hands in the air shouting "we've lost steering control".

          I agree it is reasonable to expect an indicator of which device is active, and preferably each inactive device should have an indicator to show which one was in use, couldn't take more than a few Arduino's and some LEDs. heh.

          • by rwise2112 ( 648849 ) on Friday November 03, 2017 @08:22AM (#55482067)

            Yes but if you had more than one control, and one stopped working, wouldn't your first thought be to try the other one? I can't accept everybody just ran about waving their hands in the air shouting "we've lost steering control".

            I agree it is reasonable to expect an indicator of which device is active, and preferably each inactive device should have an indicator to show which one was in use, couldn't take more than a few Arduino's and some LEDs. heh.

            Good points. Even better would be a button 'take control here'.

            Either way the system is too complex. They are confused while just sailing along. Can you imagine if there was a war on, and they were getting shot at or something!

        • You also need the frigging Christmas Tree at each station, a pendant of lights that shows everyone on the bridge who has what controls. Say Red for throttle and Blue for steering or whatever, and white for offline.

          • by fisted ( 2295862 )

            Blue for steering.

            Can't do, pretty sure blue is already reserved for the standby/power indicator (mandated encoding seems to be: standby: blindingly bright blue, power on: even more blindingly bright blue)

            • by Puls4r ( 724907 )
              Which is exactly why the stack lights should have WORDS on them..... so that there isn't any confusion.
        • by John.Banister ( 1291556 ) * on Thursday November 02, 2017 @10:49PM (#55480655) Homepage
          Most of the civilian boats on board which I've worked have a button at each station: "give control to this station right here." You don't have to find the station that has control to release it. You just take it where you stand. I can understand that the Navy might want to temporarily disable that sort of capability (perhaps using a physical key at the station from which control cannot be taken) if they had immediate concerns about hostile actors on the bridge, but not to have the capability at all seems destined to cause just this sort of problem.

          On boats with this system, the "take command" button is lit on the station that currently has command. Also, they generally require the controls at the incoming station to be in "neutral" before command can be taken - the response to the change to neutral is delayed enough on changing stations that you can switch the steering back to autopilot and move the throttles quickly back to the position from the former station without hassling the course or propulsion engines.
    • by Inviska ( 4955697 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @06:05PM (#55479649)

      I'd much rather have a programmer design the user interface than a UX designer. With a programmer you usually get a logical, well constructed interface that follows standards and offers easy access the software's functionality. Meanwhile, most UX designers turn up and say, "let's recreate the interface with flat design, remove all the colours, hide all the options, remove all customisation, spread the buttons all over the place, and after we've finished let's redesign the whole thing again next year."

      I've used Windows and commercial applications all my life, but in recent years I've found myself using free open source software far more, and Windows 10 has me moving to Linux. This isn't for idealogical reasons, but with free software the developer generally creates the user interface, so you get something that's usable. Commercial software tends to bring in UX designers who have a nasty habit of taking good software and rendering it totally worthless.

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @06:49PM (#55479821)

        With a programmer you usually get a logical, well constructed interface

        Gimp is an obvious counterexample.

        • Heh, I just installed Gimp a few minutes ago and used it for the first time in 3 or 4 years and, yep, some things don't change.
      • by MikeMo ( 521697 )
        I find that developers make UIs which are perfectly understandable and logical to *them*, but they already know how everything works. As a result, they make the worst possible of all UIs.
      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        A UX designer should focus on utility and functionality, but if the PHB's decided they "need" a dedicated UX designer, it usually means they want eye-candy, and that's what they hire for.

        As far as commercial versus open-source, I usually find the commercial UI's more friendly, I have to say. Windows OS UI's indeed do suck, but because we have to use them at work, we just learn and memorize our way around the swamp.

      • but with free software the developer generally creates the user interface

        what fantasy world are you living in? this is the one area where Linux and most OSS projects fail so fucking huge it is unbelievable, the inconsistent nature and usability issues across all the main OSS projects is astounding.

      • by Aereus ( 1042228 )

        Then they're a shitty UX designer. Logical layout, common workflow patterns, and readability etc. should be primary concerns in UI design.

      • I'd much rather have a programmer design the user interface than a UX designer. With a programmer you usually get a logical, well constructed interface that follows standards and offers easy access the software's functionality.

        For systems such as ship control, I'd rather have the UI designed in consultation with the end users so the designers can understand the operator's needs and how they operate the system and design the UI accordingly. If you don't understand how a system will be used it's easy to get caught up in what is logical to you but doesn't work in the real world.

        Years ago, I was involved in a control room design project. The programmers made nice digital readouts of plant parameters, all located on various screens. U

      • I'd much rather have a programmer design the user interface than a UX designer.

        Fuck NO!. I agree in the consumer field UX designers need their balls chopped off, but the only thing worse is to let programmers run amok. We had that for many years in industry and the resulting UI clusterfucks have lead to countless incidents. In the mean time critical industries and HMI interface specialists who support them have been doing many years of research and perfected models of operator interaction.

        The UX designer: No need for visual indicators. Oh the steering control should look like the main

      • "let's recreate the interface with flat design, remove all the colours, hide all the options, remove all customisation, spread the buttons all over the place, and after we've finished let's redesign the whole thing again next year."

        Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your UX Designer is actually just a low-rate Graphic Designer.

        Fire him/her and get an actual UX Specialist, such as one certified by the Nielsen Norman Group [nngroup.com].

        • It's as if interior designers started calling themselves architects and this went on until people forgot what an actual architect was.

          Then you get doorways that you have to crouch down and turn sideways to go through. But aren't the walls a lovely colour!

      • I'd much rather have a programmer design the user interface than a UX designer.

        I'd rather have an ergonomist/human factors wallah do it, but then I actually know what the fuck I'm talking about.

    • Actually, this seems like the UI was fine. Nowhere in TFS does it say the UI didn't match reality. It just said people got confused and fucked up when the UX screwed them over. I fucking abhor the term "UX", but this is a rare case where it actually applies.

      The helmsman sent all control (not just throttle) the the other station. It's not clear from TFS if this was due to a bad UI or not.
      The system did something unexpected when it reset the rudder position. This is bad. Control transfer shouldn't chang

      • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @07:52PM (#55480093) Journal

        > The helmsman sent all control (not just throttle) the the other station.

        And neither he nor the anyone else looking at the situation didn't realized all control had been sent away, because the UI didn't gray out of the inactive controls or anything. Two people looked at it and couldn't tell it had been inactivated. Guess which controls are disabled here:

        https://upload.wikimedia.org/w... [wikimedia.org]

        > The second helmsman throttled down only one engine.

        When he too couldn't tell that a) he had control of steering or that b) the engined weren't ganged. Again, try to figure out which controls are ganged and which aren't:

        http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_IOWi... [blogspot.com]

        It's not hard to make it obvious.

      • The UI on control station B (let's call it) clearly didn't PROMINENTLY indicate to that operator that they had both the steering control and throttle control.

        It also didn't PROMINENTLY show that only one throttle and propellor (of the left and right one) was being adjusted rather than both.

        These facts should be visually direct and hit-you-over-the-head prominent on that ui. Bright big colored things in the corresponding shape of the real thing.

        Also, the fact that the other console A (that formerly had contr

        • A => C : station C rudder control resumes at whatever setting station C already had the last time it was used, regardless of the rudder setting on whatever console transferred to it.

          Pretty huge fail - it could have been days since Station C had control (assuming I understand right). Current heading should override all previous settings. Person who gained control should be alerted to the current data when they get control.

      • If the UI caused confusion about which station had what control then it's a situation known as "design induced human error." It means the UI design sucked rocks.

    • I'm pretty sure that Zumwalt uses Angular.
    • There was actually an icon to show that the station didn't have full control. However it was light medium grey on a medium light grey background and looked like a turnip.

  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @05:48PM (#55479581)
    Yes, the displays could be improved, but there were many issues involved. The proper crew members were not on the bridge. The captain had let them sleep an extra hour, so the most experienced crew were still at breakfast. The crew involved were not experienced enough to make quick changes to the ship configuration in a critical situation. Lesson learned, don't get in a critical situation you know will happen with the back up crew. Another good point - don't have just one set of high quality bridge crew-members.
    • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @05:51PM (#55479603)

      A better point might be to not have an elite team and a standard team, but to mix and match between the different shifts so there's always a couple of highly experienced guys around.

      • Because ships sail around all the time, you get overconfident in your abilities. Suddenly it is critical that you do something you rarely do, and you realize you're not as experienced as you think you are. Due to the long range of modern weapons, even ships sailing in tactical formations are far apart. It gives you plenty of time to think before you have to make a move. The leadership of the ship needs to train on things like this during the course of normal operations, so the crew gets experience with it.
        • by Shinobi ( 19308 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @06:16PM (#55479695)

          One of the issues that has been highlighted is how little bridge watchkeeping experience US Navy officers(including CO's) can rack up in their careers, hour counts that wouldn't even qualify them as a 3rd mate on a commercial coast freighter, much less anything really big:

          https://www.usni.org/magazines... [usni.org]

          And from another article, published more recently:

          "Mitch McGuffie, a former U.S. surface warfare officer who served in an exchange with the U.K. Royal Navy for two years as a bridge officer, said that other navies place a higher value on navigation and ship handling than Americans.

          âoeI was the go-to office of the deck on my first tour, and I thought I knew a lot of stuff. And then I went to the Royal Navy and I went through their navigator school, and it was the hardest class that I have ever gone through, with a 50-percent attrition rate,â he said.

          British sailors specialize in a specific discipline at sea, unlike the U.S. surface warfare officers that are generalists. As a result, narrow specialties like navigation or bridge watches maybe given short shrift.

          âoePeople squeak through the system. They may be great officers and they may great engineers, but they might not have had a lot of time handling ships in busy waterways,â McGuffie told USNI News in an interview.
          âoeWe have guys that are commanding ships right now that have 400, 500 hours of bridge watchkeeping time in their career.â

          In contrast, as the bridge officer on a Royal Navy frigate for a six-month deployment, McGuffie stood watch for more than 2,000 hours â" all of them logged."

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by tomhath ( 637240 )

            In contrast, as the bridge officer on a Royal Navy frigate for a six-month deployment, McGuffie stood watch for more than 2,000 hours â" all of them logged."

            The guy averaged 77 hours per week? I find it hard to believe he was actually on watch while the ship was underway that much.

            In my experience (US Navy for four years) the biggest problem is that the enlisted men who stand duty on the bridge (lookouts, helmsmen, etc.) are not the brightest people you'll ever meet (to put it very politely).

            • by Shinobi ( 19308 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @06:52PM (#55479833)

              In the Royal Navy, officers are specialized for their roles, so as a bridge officer, yes, he'd spend most of his duty time on the bridge.

              And if they ran the Traditional 2 Section RN dogged watch, he'd have spent on average 36h on watch every 72 hour period. Which would give you 2160h watch hours logged.

              • by tomhath ( 637240 )
                That assumes the ship was at sea the entire six months. Unless they're fighting a war I don't know about it seems very unlikely a ship would be out that much.
        • I'd like to offer another explanation. In hindsight, It seems like any idiot on the bridge could have over-ridden the auto-piloting controls and manually steered the ship in a direction other than directly at The Alnic.

          What happens in real life, in real time, during an emergency, is that people freeze up and don't always think to do the rational thing. Are more seasoned sailors less likely to fail in a high stress situation? Absolutely, and yet, for every Sully, there's a dozen well-trained individuals wit

          • I think that even the manual controls are by-wire - and that was part of the problem. Your set of controls has to be the active ones before they do anything.

      • A better point might be to not have an elite team and a standard team, but to mix and match between the different shifts so there's always a couple of highly experienced guys around.

        Almost sounds like the solution to the US two party system woes!

    • Lesson learned, don't get in a critical situation you know will happen with the back up crew.

      It is a warship - critical situations can and do occur without notice! You should be expecting the unexpected at all times - ie should not have the ship at sea without competent people at the helm.

      Heads should roll here, as well as at the contractors and whoever signed of the thing as fit to go to sea..

    • That and inexperienced navy captains. They're just passing for a brief stint on their career path and never build up the experience for the job.

    • If the displays require that level of training and expertise to run in a critical situation, then the root cause has nothing at all to do with the crew. That should be relegated to a side issue for continuous improvement.

  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Thursday November 02, 2017 @05:49PM (#55479583)

    It means that the navigation UI was overlaid by the Solitaire UI,

  • Whether or not it's a UI-issue, it seems to me whoever was on the bridge was simply confused about all that is going on and a variation of the mythical man-month. Splitting controls across multiple officers in multiple locations is harder to manage than just having a single person responsible. I understand the need for fail-over but that doesn't mean you can simply distribute higher loads.

    Not knowing whether you are dealing with a human error or a mechanical issue is another one of those things that just re

    • Splitting throttle control from steering was a well intentioned move, executed (and verified) very badly.

      I believe this kind of separation of the two types of controls used to be fairly common, in the days of old physical levers and such controls.

      In any case, after mistakes were made, the next problem was that no one was able to come quickly at correct "state awareness", and that is down to both bad training, bad procedures or procedure following, AND terrible UI design on the computerized control consoles.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @05:51PM (#55479595) Journal

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    Who's controlling it?

    What's "it"?

    The ship!

    You are, right?

    Only the rudder.

    Whose controlling the propellers then?

    I thought you were.

    No, I thought you were!

    Let's ask Mikey. Mikey, are you controlling the propellers?

    I was earlier, but I thought you guys took control of them. See, the red icon is on.

    That's not a red icon, that's the object we are about to collide with...

  • It sounds a little like the Titanic and the suggestion the it hit the iceberg because of confusion between the use of Tiller Orders and Rudder Orders.

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @05:54PM (#55479611) Journal
    Just design, humans, contractors and internal gov/mil policy.
    Who would have expected not having a good design and testing that design with crews would have been an issue?
    How to do a "navy".
    1. Your crews have to have skills. Find the best people to work in your navy. Give them the wages, support and education they need.
    2. Read up on how other winning nations did the "navy" design over the many, many years.
    Saying a ship is new or a different "design" is no excuse.
    The UK built its Dreadnought https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] having to consider new designs and new ideas. The new parts got made with skill and people worked very hard to get the new design ready.
    Any unexpected issues got corrected by real engineers and top experts before they became an issue for the navy.

    Find the experts, test things a lot, have good crews and ensure the skill sets are ready.
    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      Gee, you make it sound so easy.

      2. Read up on how other winning nations did the "navy" design over the many, many years.

      Great idea. The US Navy has no experience at all, does it?

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Any well funded navy should have enough experts to study most of the more common crew issues by 2010.
        Human issues should have been studied and finally understood in the 1970-90's.
        Lack of sleep, needed skills, GUI design is not some unexpected new science that needs a few more decades to get ready....
        Is it budget cuts so the number of crew at any time with skills has been reduced?
        The GUI and systems are now too complex given budget reductions to the time to learn and understand the tasks?
        The crews do no
    • I'm thinking the issue is not enough simulator time for the bridge crews myself...

      Please tell me somebody had actually practiced the "We lost control of the rudder" scenario more than once and that the fault analysis tree and check lists included a "Determine where the rudder controls are supposed to be" step..

      What? NO simulator? Are you guys nuts?

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Commercial airlines found the funding and human performance professionals to work out what helps with their crews decades ago.
    • Who would have expected not having a good design

      Everyone. The dumber question: who would know what good design looks like? That ultimately is the key problem here. Everyone is aware of the importance of design but there petty few that are actually aware of what "good" looks like.

  • by Shinobi ( 19308 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @06:06PM (#55479655)

    Despite Ars Technica's single-minded view on the incident, there were multiple levels of failure, including but not limited to:

    Insufficient lookouts
    Overcrowded bridge interior
    Insufficient training(What Ars Technica neglects(possibly deliberately) to mention is that parts of the crew on watch on the bridge were on temporary assignment from the cruiser Antietam, which according to the report has a different control system)
    Contrary to protocol, the CO issued orders, without announcing that he was taking direct control, and then didn't keep a firm grasp of the situation.
    Insufficient bridge watchstanding experience in general in the US Navy officer corps, partially due to the generalist nature of US Navy surface officers, rather than the specialization found in the Royal Navy for example. As highlighted by a USN officer: "âoePeople squeak through the system. They may be great officers and they may great engineers, but they might not have had a lot of time handling ships in busy waterways,â McGuffie told USNI News in an interview.
    âoeWe have guys that are commanding ships right now that have 400, 500 hours of bridge watchkeeping time in their career.â

    In contrast, as the bridge officer on a Royal Navy frigate for a six-month deployment, McGuffie stood watch for more than 2,000 hours â" all of them logged"

    The Fitzgerald was both better and worse. The OOD had 0 situational awareness, ignored technical tools such as AIS that'd have given him sufficient situational awareness, ignored warnings by the junior OOD, insufficient lookouts posted(none on starboard side), the OOD had no knowledge of the TSS(despite being based out of Yokohama!!!!), and the TSS was not mentioned in the navigation briefing.

    And, as on all USN surface warfare ships, non-pilots seem to be chronically sleep-deprived.

    So, you have systematic issues at multiple levels, of which the UI was just one small part

    • by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @06:31PM (#55479741) Homepage
      Contrary to protocol, the CO issued orders, without announcing that he was taking direct control, and then didn't keep a firm grasp of the situation.

      I've been in the US Navy and I've served Bridge Watches. Any time the Captain gives a direct order to the helm, or directly orders a change in speed, he automatically has the con, and retains it until he says otherwise. This is so that there's no time wasted in an emergency when the time saved may make the difference between a collision and a near miss. Yes, most of the time he goes through the proper protocol for taking over, but he's the only person who doesn't have to, and it's his decision whether or not there's time to jump through the hoops.
      • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

        Yeah, but as I mentioned, he didn't keep the grasp of the situation, and never handed conn back either, which causes confusion, which is part of the protocol breach.

        • Not keeping a firm grasp of the situation was a problem, of course. Not handing the con back wasn't. Once the Captain takes control, he has the con until he says otherwise, and he can keep it as long as he thinks he needs to. Nobody's going to question him if he keeps it longer than expected, although he might have to answer for his actions if he returns the con before the emergency is over.
          • by Shinobi ( 19308 )

            Yeah, but according to the report, after issuing the order about about reducing speed, he seems to have remained quiet, yet not handed Conn back, which leaves the crew in a confused state(or, more likely, it'll turn out to be like on the Porter recording that leaked, with massive confusion, everyone talking over each other etc).

    • Insufficient training(What Ars Technica neglects(possibly deliberately)

      I would deliberately not mention that too. If you require specific training for something as simple as deciding which direction you're pointing and how fast you're getting there then there's something very VERY wrong with the interface.

      The rest of what you talk about is a critical disaster management strategy. The fact that they were able to get to that position was the disaster initiator. You can't eliminate human error, so you don't consider it a true root cause of failure.

  • I wonder, what kind of Naval Collisions are unavoidable accidents?
    • by Ecuador ( 740021 )

      Exactly my question.
      And also, the helmsman had difficulty controlling both course and speed??? Of a ship with a top speed of 30knots??? Is the crew related to the Spaceballs' assholes?
      I mean no matter how "complicated" the UI is, this was still not a space shuttle, and people were actually piloting those...

    • Perhaps ones that happen during warfare or immediately after a meteor strike or a rogue wave, or during an occurrence that was beyond the capability of the human mind to prepare for in advance. Sometimes it's necessary to prioritize other goals above avoiding accidents. Other times, accident causing problems come from out of a blind spot you didn't know you had.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 02, 2017 @06:12PM (#55479679) Homepage Journal

    WTF is this, star trek?

    They don't need reconfigurable controls, do they? Wouldn't it make more sense to have discrete controls? They can be electronic displays if that's your thing, but probably shouldn't be.

    • Makes a pretty good UI.

      This sort of thing has crashed airplanes. When they went from yokes to joysticks. There was the air France one where an idiot pilot held the joystick back and the other pilot had no way of knowing.

      Crude and simple works.

      That said, on traditional naval boats, the helmsman working the wheel had no idea of where the ship is going. Often cannot ever see out the front. Look outs tell the officer, the officer tells the helmsman a course, and the helmsman is just like an auto pilot. Thi

      • But how hard can it be to handle them together? Presumably the helmsman has had some training and practice before taking primary responsibility.

        I assumed that by now we would have drones flying station around all military vessels, providing external camera views being among their duties. Alas.

      • by Pikoro ( 844299 )

        In an Airbus aircraft, if the aircraft receives input on both yokes, there is an audible warning of "DUAL INPUT". Also, holding down the autopilot disconnect switch of either yoke causes a "PRIORITY LEFT (or RIGHT)" audible warning so everyone is aware who has control. And if the FWS system fails (that's the one that gives audible warnings), there are still visual warnings which alert the same thing.

        Also, in the case of dual input, the control systems average the inputs. For example, if the captain gives

        • by Pikoro ( 844299 )

          Sorry. s/yoke/joystick/g;

        • What I don't get is how averaging the inputs would ever make sense.

          • The only thing that really makes sense is to have physical controls with force feedback that makes it obvious if they are doing anything. In my mind the ideal would be to be able to set every redundant control to either be off or on, with the FF being used to show when a control is disconnected (just flops around when thrown) or slaved together with other controls (rotates/slides in sync with the controls at other stations.) You obviously need a way to assign control of a function to a specific station so t

            • Controls without feedback are manageable - A320 is a very safe airplane and nowadays the most common aircraft in its class. Fly by wire and envelope protection are one of the reasons why it is so safe and like previously mentioned, there is a clear warning about dual input.
              It is the averaging of the input that doesn't make sense. I cannot think of any situation where this "feature" would be of any use.

  • by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @06:59PM (#55479871) Homepage
    I was part of the team that shipped the first ECDIS' [wikipedia.org] to the the Navy over 20 years ago. Electronic Chart Display and Information System are the marine equivalent to aircraft automated flight navigation controls. ECDIS was in response to the Valdez finding a rock and folks asking why can ships' navigation systems do that planes can do? The charts are "smart" and will not let you plan a route over too shallow of an area. I know our product was on the Enterprise and Constellation 20 years ago. Why are they not on these smaller ships? FYI, back then the navigator on these nuclear aircraft carriers (yes there was a specific officer assigned to this) also had a sextant, watch, paper charts and compass, just in case.
  • by Radical Moderate ( 563286 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @07:21PM (#55479963)
    I guess it sounds good in theory to have controls that can be configured to allow a single person or multiple people, as needed, drive the ship. Until this happens. What's the point? One less body on the bridge, saving a few bucks? On a warship that costs billions of dollars, a few redundant personnel at the controls seems like cheap insurance.
    • by LesFerg ( 452838 )

      I would electrify the controls which are not enabled, then if somebody tried to use the wrong one there would be instance feedback without relying on visual indicators.

  • by thygate ( 1590197 ) on Thursday November 02, 2017 @07:29PM (#55480003)
    I'm pretty sure the Officer of the Deck's name was Zapp Brannigan.
  • ..in the kitchen. Look, the organization of a bridge crew and the controls of a naval ship are archaic, a vestige of a passed age when all those controls were mechanical.

    You don't need all those damn people on the bridge anymore. Even Star Trek has it all wrong, you just don't need that many people with the ways we can control everything via a computer workstation. Having all these people just introduces delays in ship's response time to the Captain's orders, and human error.

    So there you go, DoD, there's

  • They brought in some material UI "clean" designers - and all the fucking things they need to interactive with, have UNLABELLED icons and they're all the same bloody colour.

    Also there's animations anywhere and everywhere they can put them.

  • A book written 20 years ago [amazon.com] explains it.

    In their terms, (computer) + (ship) = (computer)

  • but it's hard to imagine after months or years using a system that is this flawed that there had not been previous occasions somewhere in the fleet where a misunderstanding of this nature occurred and everyone had a good laugh about it because they didn't hit anything.

    My point is that after these issues occurred in the past the crew should have been aware of this pitfall and done something to mitigate it, even if it meant putting a line of masking tape over the screen of the console that had no control - I

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