Video game-like virtual reality system part of new training for sailors at Naval Station Norfolk


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s sailor training like you’ve never seen it before, catered toward the younger generation.

It’s called the Carrier-Advanced Reconfigurable Training System, and officials held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening Friday morning.

“The concept here is to bring the training, the systems, the type of training our youth of today are used to. Everybody is comfortable working with an iPhone, iPad, or in a computer environment,” Rear Admiral Roy Kelley.

One of the most innovative parts of C-ARTS is this virtual reality training program.

Sailors assigned to the USS Gerald R. Ford are using the new technology to train for their time at sea.

“It’s a major game changer for us in training our sailors,” said Rear Admiral James Downey, the Navy’s program executive officer for aircraft carriers.

It may look like one of the new video game systems, but it actually mimics everything the sailor has to do to launch and land fighters off the deck.

“For having been out on the Ford for the last couple hundred launches, it’s very realistic, the depiction of the ship is the ship. It comes from the product model of the design of the ship. The timeline is exactly what we’ve seen,” Downey explained.

The hub of advanced technology also includes 3D printers to practice repairs, and a station designated for fiber optics.

The training lead for CVN-78 class ships, Kelly Schneider, says the Navy’s legacy of personnel training was sending a sailor to some far off place to do their studying.

However by the time they got back, which could be a month later, they forget what they were taught — so this facility closes that time gap and makes training more effective.

“Having them come in C-ARTS, practice that, the muscle memory, it is a remembered. I know I remember how to do it, so when the Ford gets underway and they’re out at sea firing that shot firing that airplane, it wasn’t six months ago or 4 months ago last time they did it they could’ve done it in C-ARTS yesterday,” Schneider said.

Two other units are also located at Newport News Shipbuilding, walking distance to Pier 3, where the John F. Kennedy is under construction. A fifth classroom is planned for Naval Station Norfolk next spring.

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