It’s hard to reconcile the somewhat goofy bridge scene above with the wicked looking warship below, but they represent the same yet unbuilt U.S. Navy design called a Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). Picture an aluminum and steel 127m (417’) trimaran capable of sustained “sprints” at 47 knots and tight manuevering—even in shoal water—with waterjets and steerable thrusters. While flying last week I met an enthusiastic General Dynamics engineer who gave me the Web address of this fascinating project. Of particular note to electronics geeks is the design’s “flexible information technology backbone that allows ‘plug and play’ integration.” Apparently the Navy has imposed “open architecture” requirements and GD’s solution “leverages industry standards and non-proprietary interfaces.” I guess that explains all the Dell monitors on the mockup bridge, and I wonder if they are using NMEA 2000? And wouldn’t the LCS design make a hell of a megayacht, though Larry Ellison—no relation—would have to settle for something shorter than his current ride. (More pictures here).
When Navionics Platinum chart cards come out this summer, 3D photo mapping will come to boat plotters. Platinum (still not much on the Web yet) is really going to turn some heads, as it did during the Miami Boat Show. If you want to see what the eventual possibilities are, take a look at NASA’s free program World Wind. It’s not quite as user friendly as Keyhole, but has higher resolution photography for much of the U.S. The screen shot above (bigger here) shows a Hilton in Clearwater Beach, Florida, where I’m attending a magazine meeting this week. In World Wind I was able to check out the beach and marinas, etc. before I got here. You’ll understand why posting may be irregular this week!
“Let us now praise consumer electronics—the iPod, Palm Pilot, the computer and even the not-so-lowly TV set. Why? Because while virtually everything else in yachting becomes more costly, marine electronics consistently provide more value for your money, in large measure due to the use of the billions of dollars invested in consumer product technology.”
That’s how Chuck Husick begins his latest at Yachtingnet, an interesting look at new trends. Chuck’s piece led me to learn more about Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) screens, like the prototype shown. Note that someone at Yachtingnet, probably not Chuck, mistakenly captioned the Airmar WeatherStation as wireless; it’s not, though it’s a fascinating product.