Innovation event explores future submarine control capability

Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), LSIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, Innovation

Tactical Advancement New Generation (TANG) organisers L-R: Dave Blakely, Sarah Rigsbee, Cheryl Smith-Gander, Commander Patrick Alfonso, Tony Patron, Commander Gareth Marjoram, Josh Smith and Adam Sbrana at Sir James Stirling Mess Annexe, HMAS Stirling, Western Australia. (photo: LSIS Richard Cordell)
Tactical Advancement New Generation (TANG) organisers L-R: Dave Blakely, Sarah Rigsbee, Cheryl Smith-Gander, Commander Patrick Alfonso, Tony Patron, Commander Gareth Marjoram, Josh Smith and Adam Sbrana at Sir James Stirling Mess Annexe, HMAS Stirling, Western Australia.
A joint Australian/US innovation event that discussed and explored current and future submarine technology was recently held at HMAS Stirling.
 
The four-day submarine Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG) event brought together a number of military and civilian stakeholders to brainstorm and share ideas and concepts designed to improve the control capability of Navy’s future submarines.
 
TANG Director Mr Josh Smith said similar events had been held across the globe and had proved a valuable tool in tackling challenges such as improving the operability of submarines.
 
“Over the past few months we’ve been working side-by-side with the Royal Australian Navy, Defence Science and Technology Group and other stakeholders to figure out who it is we should be talking to in order to get the most valuable information for future design concepts,” he said.
 
“Together, we’ve been conducting research and talking to the war-fighters, those who live and breathe the submarine life, to get their opinions because we find the best ideas usually come from the end-user.
 
“We also work closely with the stakeholders that actually have the authority to take action on the ideas, as well as various technology companies from Australia and the United States to see what’s possible; whether that’s artificial intelligence, augmented reality or some other emerging technology.
 
“Once we’ve carried out all that research with our partners and sponsors we can frame-up workshops like the one at HMAS Stirling.”
 
As well as presentations from stakeholders and industry experts, the TANG event, which is the second to be held in Australia, involved a number of team activities and challenged participants to conceptualise the ideas they came up with.
 
“Essentially, this workshop is a tool to get ideas from the war-fighters, so for the past few days we’ve tried to inspire them as much as possible,” Mr Smith said.
 
“There’s been a lot of hands-on demonstrations, and the opportunity for participants to immerse themselves in ship-design, and interact with various cutting edge technology.
 
“And now, after three days of brainstorming, the groups are coming up with their own rapid prototype concepts, which involves the use of basic materials such as foam core, popsicle sticks and posters to articulate those ideas.”
 
Mr Smith said previous submarine TANG events had produced valuable, tangible results that have been incorporated into existing submarine technology.
 
“Earlier US TANGs have led to plenty of ideas that have been incorporated into the advanced development process,” he said.
 
“For example, the non-penetrating periscope on the Virginia Class Submarine, which saw the heavy-duty military grade joystick replaced by a Microsoft Xbox controller which is a lot lighter and more manageable.”
 
At the end of the event, workshop ideas and concepts that are deemed worthy of further exploration will be presented to Navy authorities for possible incorporation into future submarine designs.