A new U.S. Navy self-sufficiency program is teaching sailors how to address fiber-optic issues onboard a ship traveling far from shore.
The Naval Sea Systems Command said Monday that the Fiber Optics Test and Repair (FOTR) program will certify fiber technicians and verify their capability to resolve problems in shipboard infrastructure while deployed.
Under the FOTR effort, sailors will receive initial fiber instruction from schoolhouses in San Diego, California, and Norfolk, Virginia, for their certification. They must then renew their certification every 18 months through an inspector from the program lead Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.
"This program reduces the risk of a situation where the equipment is down or the ship is without warfighting capabilities because of a fiber optic issue," explained Matt Castel, the head of the Navy's Fiber Technology and Interconnect Branch.
Master Chief Terry Russell, a key member of the program's working group, added that the COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the need for such a program that has long been an interest among the fleet.
The FOTR program held a pilot in the latter part of 2020, during which officials verified the fiber training and proficiency of fiber technicians onboard five ships from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.
"We’re already seeing the return on investment as ships have been able to repair major system causalities on their own utilizing the fiber training and program we have stood up," said Russell.
Naval officials credited a similar circuit board self-sufficiency effort, the microminiature electronics repair program, for the fast deployment of the FOTR.