The Royal Navy has started the rollout of next generation command & control systems, based on SpliceCom’s Maximiser OS based IP PBX, to train its submariners. Working closely with SpliceCom Community Partner iCS Communications and prime contractor British Aerospace Systems (BAe), the developer of telephone systems has delivered specially modified versions of its S8000 Soft PBX and PCS 582G touch screen IP Phones to meet the Royal Navy’s exacting requirements.
The process started when the Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a tender for equipment to replace the Royal Navy’s existing Sub-Surface Training System (Trainers), which was viewed as obsolete. In particular, on-going maintenance of the purpose built PC based VoIP solution utilising touchscreens was becoming an ever-increasing issue and having a significant impact on training for submariners.
Although an existing Command & Control system from Speakerbus was under consideration, discussions between BAe and iCS identified SpliceCom’s Maximiser OS based Soft PBX with PCS 582G touch screen IP phones as the basis of a far more flexible solution. “The feature-rich SpliceCom feature set allowed the basic concept of the proposed new training system to be tested using standard “off-the-shelf” products,” explained iCS Communications’ Founder and Managing Director, John Gillborn. “iCS then acted as the intermediary between BAe and SpliceCom to agree, define and timeline the developments required to enhance the IP PBX and IP phones to meet the MoD requirements. SpliceCom’s flexibility as a company and our close relationship with them as a business partner, were key to making this happen,” continued Gillborn.
Developments centred on the adaptation of the PCS 582G IP Phones to work as “headless” comms clients with specific specialist headsets, the addition of Push-To-Talk (PTT) functionality and interconnects for multiple (Binaural) audio inputs to be used simultaneously.
The initial rollout was for three training sites, each one consisting of SpliceCom’s Soft PBX with 30 modified PCS 582G touchscreen extensions, plus spares. Each site was allocated 3 weeks to strip out the old system, install the new and successfully complete Site Acceptance Training (SAT). Following the successful completion of these tasks, within the allocated time, the systems were handed over to the MoD to commence training.
“The Royal Navy’s training suites are used for “real world” simulation,” said Gillborn. “The communication system is a fundamental part of this, providing the senior ranks with an open channel that the whole bridge listens to. This bespoke multi-party command & control system fuses off-the-shelf British technology with SpliceCom’s in-house development skills to deliver a solution that is simply not available at this level of functionally or price.”
“By using the SpliceCom system to fulfil this role, we have achieved this in a way that is easy to deploy, simple to use, quick to diagnose and maintain, without the need to completely close the Trainers as was the case with the older systems. Fast start times and easy “on the fly” configuration makes this system a pleasure to work with,” said Steve Johns, MTS Area Manager for British Aerospace Systems.
“There are already plans for the deployment of a 4th site, but now the initial systems are in place and being used by the Royal Navy there is a lot of interest from other training facilities and maintenance teams within BAe and the MoD. We recognise that this will be a slow process, but there is a lot of promise for this product over the next 2 to 3 years. The bottom line here is, if there’s a system requirement that’s a little out of the ordinary, and there’s a real business need with a realistic budget in place, you’re far more likely to achieve it with a SpliceCom system,” concludes Gillborn.
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