14 July 2014

All Sailors Could Have Tablets Within Five Years


Sailors might not have to wait in lines for computers or deal with limited web access for much longer. Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike Stevens is pushing to put a tablet computer in every sailor’s hand, starting with a pilot program this fall.

Stevens hopes the pilot involving 200 sailors will secure his goal of  connecting tablets to shipboard networks within five years. The upcoming pilot will test three different types of devices at Recruit Training Command (RTC) Great Lakes, Illinois. Recruits will be issued new tablets and begin tapping away during boot camp training and instruction sessions.

There’s about one computer for every five sailors on a destroyer, so it’s difficult for sailors to get all their online work done. The devices could allow sailors to complete training or work, stay in touch with friends, or study for online courses without the long computer lines  that make sea duty more frustrating.

Officials are working through the rules for how sailors can use their issued tablets, including what can be put on them and how to maintain and repair them. RTC officials want to set up a Wi-Fi network so they can take full advantage of the pilot test, but they might not have it up in time for the first test.

Eventually, the tests will involve sailors working together in the cloud and virtual environment and other more advanced operations.

The ultimate vision is for these devices to be issued throughout their time in the Navy — from boot camp to ‘A’ school and then on to ‘C’ school to eventually out to the fleet.

It’s time for the Navy to take advantage of the mobile technology. The Army has used similar devices, and tablet testing has been done on aircraft carriers and submarines  with e-readers for maintenance checks. Plus, some ships are already outfitted with Wi-Fi hotspots.

Sailors are annoyed with the growing number of training and survey requirements. Managing their service records and careers takes Internet access, and that’s hard to get in the fleet. It may add to costs, but handing out tablets to sailors would truly improve accessibility and set them up for success.

Do you see sailors walking around ships with tablets in hand one day? What benefits do you see from having personal devices for Internet access? Do the benefits outweigh the added costs?

Weigh in on the discussion here and connect within the military network.

Image Copyright: US Navy

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