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Innovative Flexible Equipment Support Infrastructure


US Navy Destroyers need an equipment support infrastructure for several shipboard electronics and command spaces for a Common Processing System (CPS). The purpose of the flexible infrastructure (FI) is to provide equipment configuration flexibility and the ability to complete Command Center System modernization and upgrades at reduced cost (by 30 to 60 percent ) (Ref 1) compared to fixed-system modifications. Costs are associated with changes in doctrine, organization, training, material, personnel, and facilities. The innovative designs developed will allow the Navy to incorporate a reconfigurable, modular support structure for large cabinets and consoles in the remaining DDG 51 class ships as well as have it considered for back fit in existing DDG 51 Class ships. DDG 51 Destroyers are continuously upgraded for numerous reasons including; new mission capability, response to new threats, or to add advanced technology to increase reliability (Ref 2). These upgrades involve the addition or substitution of new cabinets, displays, and electronics resulting in long periods in shipyards for re-outfitting of support structures in new configurations. During this time, ships are not available for deployment. An infrastructure that will allow equipment cabinets to be moved or replaced without welding would reduce significant work in the upgrade package. Support structure cutting and re-welding is labor intensive, time consuming, and very costly. The current FI systems found on other ships are designed with very specific bolt-hole patterns. Presently, DDG 51 Class cabinets and consoles do not align with the existing FI bolt-hole patterns and the solution so far has been a heavy adapter plate. Although technically feasible, current adapter plates are undesirable because they are very heavy, restrict access for bolting, and protrude beyond the dimensions of the cabinet causing a tripping hazard and increase the height of the cabinet. The total height of the cabinets is limited to 75 inches, consequently, when the FI replaces the existing deck structure, it must not cause cabinet height allowances to be exceeded. Increased height cannot be tolerated without significant ship redesign of the existing deck heights. This topic seeks innovative solutions to produce a light-weight, affordable, and flexible support structure that can accommodate very heavy cabinets and reduce installation costs by more than 30% in comparison to the current legacy structure. Current FI systems used on other ships are designed to handle cabinets of 150 pounds per square foot. A significant number of the cabinets on DDG 51 Class Destroyers are heavier than this. Typical shipboard computer racks and cabinets are 19 inches wide by 24 inches deep by 59.5 inches high (Ref 3) and weigh up to 2,000 pounds. While the FI must accommodate the weight of cabinets, it must not add weight to the ship when it replaces the existing deck structure. It is anticipated, however, that by not utilizing the adapter plates and potential use of lighter material for use in the flexible structure itself, the overall flexible system will help in reducing the total ship weight. The design of any support infrastructures, adapter plates, or modifications to the ship must meet ship specification requirements for underwater shock (MIL-S-901D), EMI (MIL-S-461F), and safety (NAVSEA DDS 078-1). Additionally, modifications to the existing ship design need to be minimal in order to prevent increased modification costs of ships to deploy FI on new and existing ships. In addition, the FI must have minimal weight and component costs and be easy to install. PHASE I: The company will develop a concept for an affordable, innovative equipment support structure that will meet the requirements described above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the design concept through material selection and testing, as well as, analytical modeling and simulation with anticipated cost analysis. The approach/analysis should demonstrate the structural design has the capability to meet load requirements at the same or reduced weight compared to the existing deck structure. PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II Statement of Work (SoW), the company will develop prototype FI for evaluation. Prototype FI will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II SoW and the Navy requirements for a weight neutral and innovative equipment support structure. The FI will be evaluated in a mock-up of the CPS to ensure that it meets load, re-configurability, height, cabinet mounting, and weight requirements. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype FI into an initial design that will meet Navy needs. Transition of the technology for Navy use will include documentation that describes all installation, maintenance, and repair practices and procedures and meet Shock, EMI, and safety requirements. PHASE III: The Navy expects the company to support transition of the FI to Navy use aboard DDG 51 Class ships. The company will produce production components for evaluation in the Combat Information Center and the Combat Systems Equipment Room on board DDG 51 to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. Additionally, the company will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use.
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