The Supply Community and the CNO Rapid Innovation Cell

BY LT. CMDR. CHRIS O’CONNOR, SC, USN, STAFF OFFICER, STRATEGIC PLANNING AND COMMUNICATIONS DIVISION AND LT. DAN WALKER, USN, HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER, NAVAL SUPPLY SYSTEMS COMMAND

SC and CRIC CVN 74

Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Joshua Hensman performs a function test with Google Glass aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). –Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Frost

In 2012, Adm. Greenert gave a small group of innovative thinkers from the officer and enlisted ranks an opportunity to rapidly develop innovative technology or processes for Navy use. This group, coined the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO’s) Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC), seeks to take advantage of opportunities that are outside the Navy mainstream, empowering innovators with flag leadership advocacy and financial resources to develop prototypes that can be rapidly transitioned to the fleet.

CRIC has grown in the past few years and has developed several successful programs that will benefit the Navy in areas such as shipboard additive manufacturing (Print the Fleet), unmanned undersea systems (Silent Nemo), and aviation maintenance software (SMART).

Ground Floor

A Supply Corps officer was on the ground floor of this effort. Lt. Jackie Kvinsland, who is participating in the Women in Submarines program, was assigned to Navy Warfare Development Command, and became an action officer for CRIC. She was the second project manager for the OCEAN AR (augmented reality) project until Lt. Dan Walker took the reins this year. The vision of this project was to use Google Glass to build an application that was crowd sourced from the Fleet while demonstrating the prototyping of a “government off-the-shelf” system that is divested of proprietary software and can be updated near real-time over the wire.

OCEAN AR was recently demonstrated on board the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) showing how AR can support maintenance and Anti-Terrorism Force Protection applications. Additional features demonstrated were Quick Response code scanning, picture and video streaming, remote spot check, task authoring with smartphone, and one-way video chat via a wearable displays connected in a stand-alone wireless mesh network.

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Generation 2 and Generation 3 “CRICsters” at Naval Warfare Development Center on 30 June 2015.

Charting a Course

The OCEAN AR team recently published “Augmented Reality in the U.S. Navy, A Road Map” that identify the future of AR within the next five to 10 years and identifies the obstacles in terms of technology, policy, training, infrastructure and outreach education that limits AR integration. Several use cases were also identified to include Work Instructions for Maintenance, Data System for Watchstanders, and Audit and Inspection.

Supply Community Representation

The third year of CRIC inductees has substantial Supply Community representation. Lt. Walker’s project has important implications to many aspects of shipboard life, which include the maintenance, supply, and logistics duties that our Sailors carry out on a daily basis. Joining him in this CRIC cohort is Lt. Cmdr. Chris O’Connor, whose CRIC efforts are centered on advocating Cargo Replenishment Unmanned Aerial Systems on board deployed ships in order  to ensure critical supply delivery in a future of smaller, more distributed Fleet assets.

CRIC is not Officers Only

One of the founding members of the team and the driving force behind the SMART program is AT1 Rich Walsh. Following the trail he blazed, LS2s Mike Crowley and Robert Kennedy joined CRIC this year with their project “Scan to Issue.” Their efforts are a perfect example of grassroots innovation, where users of a process or technology find a problem with the status quo. In their case, as Supply Department Sailors on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), they used bar code scanners to receive and inventory parts, but continued to use a labor intensive logbook entry system to issue parts. The Scan to Issue project aims to resolve this procedural discrepancy by using the same scanner system to issue parts to work centers, which should be faster and less error prone.

Participation with the CRIC is a collateral duty consisting of about 20 junior officers and enlisted, normally serving for a two-year period with high flag-level visibility, project management opportunities, and occasional travel requirements to support projects and innovation initiatives.

November/December 2015