Virtual Well Deck Operations Trainer: Line Handling

Navy SBIR 24.1 - Topic N241-036
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command
Pre-release 11/29/23   Opens to accept proposals 1/03/24   Now Closes 2/21/24 12:00pm ET    [ View Q&A ]

N241-036 TITLE: Virtual Well Deck Operations Trainer: Line Handling

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Human-Machine Interfaces

OBJECTIVE: Design and develop a virtual Well Deck Operations Trainer replicating an L-Class ship well deck environment able to support and train various surface craft and shipboard crews on duties and responsibilities associated with embarking, debarking, and emergency procedures of expected connectors (i.e., Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), Ship to Shore Connector (SSC), Landing Craft Utility (LCU), small boats).

DESCRIPTION: There are currently limited training resources that develop individual and collective proficiency for handling craft inside an L-class ship well deck. In a review of data regarding the Well Deck Watch Stations training, it becomes clear that there is a need to standardize and enhance the existing training approach. The current process involves On-the-Job Training (OJT) along with a Personal Qualification Standard (PQS) and Job Qualification Requirements (JQR). However, additional training is sought to maximize effective OJT. The establishment of a training continuum. either virtual or on a scaled temporary on demand basis. that emphasizes performance in a controlled environment is required to support expeditionary readiness.

A Well Deck Line Handler Trainer would be part of a training continuum utilized prior to conducting training/operations aboard Naval shipping at sea, so that time and training value can be maximized. The Well Deck Operations Trainer, either virtual or on a scaled temporary on demand basis, shall provide live form and function capabilities associated with well deck operations to meet individual and collective training standards. The proposed solution should provide line handlers, supervisors, and small craft operators an opportunity to train under realistic conditions in a controlled environment before underway operations on an L-class ship. The well deck, as much as possible, shall replicate the material and working conditions of an L-Class ship to prepare individuals and crews for live shipboard operations. The LPD 17 Class well deck is 188 feet long and approximately 50 feet wide at mid well, increasing to 59 feet at the sill, or stern of the ship. Vertical clearance in the well is 31 feet. The trainer should be able to replicate ballasting requirements for various craft to include maximum 8-10 ft at the sill for LCU operations. To support training requirements, the Well Deck Operations Trainer should provide embark and debark procedures that replicate recovery and emergency procedures for craft expected to conduct wet well operations. The trainer should include a catwalk where line handlers are stationed, as well as replication of day and night operations. Training should be structured to replicate skill components required of the integrated working environment utilizing the building block approach.

The culmination of block training would be conducting line-handling duties aboard L-class shipping under normal operating conditions. The phased approach is a cost-effective solution that maximizes prime time skills development ensuring a high level of competency.

The design, development, and implementation of a Well Deck Trainer will provide a location for teams to train, rehearse, and refine Required Operational Capabilities and Projected Operational Environment (ROC/POE) and Mission Essential Tasks (METs) that directly relate to amphibious requirements.

PHASE I: Develop a conceptual design to meet the requirements in the Description. Through modeling and simulation, or other means, demonstrate the feasibility to develop a concept that meets the needs of the Navy. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I efforts and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), develop and deliver a prototype. Demonstrate the capability of the prototype to recover and secure an LCU in a controlled environment incorporating line-handling practices. Construct one task trainer prototype for testing. Support the Navy for test and validation in accordance with Navy regulations and requirements. Navy technical leads will validate the prototype to ensure compliance with training certification requirements. Refine the design of the Well Deck Operations Trainer for the training and qualification of line handlers and small craft/boat crews to conduct wet well procedures.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology to Navy use. Following testing and validation, implement the final prototype at multiple sites in Fleet concentration areas.

This technology will help the Navy meet the critical needs of increased warfighting capability for L-Class ships and expand the Amphibious Warfare Mission Area(s). Rescue boat crews from civilian fire and law enforcement rescue units will also benefit from this training.


  1. Whalen, T., De Vore, M., COMNAVSURFPAC/LANT Instruction 3340.3F Wet Well Operations Manual, 12 Oct 2021. COMNAVSURFPAC - 3340.3D.pdf - CNSF (
  2. Naval Education and Training Command, NAVEDTRA 43220-5C Personal Qualification Standard for LPD 17 Deck Operations, 30 Aug 2021.
  3. Naval Education and Training Command, NAVEDTRA 43114-E Personal Qualification Standard for Landing Craft Utility (LCU), Oct 2012.
  4. Naval Education and Training Command, NAVEDTRA 43152-M Personal Qualification Standard for Forces Afloat Small Boat Operations Aug 2019.

KEYWORDS: L-Class Ship; Well Deck; Embark; Debark; Wet Well Operations; Small Craft launch and recovery


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 24.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its Navy 24.1 SBIR Topics pre-release on November 28, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on January 3, 2024, and now closes February 21, (12:00pm ET).

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Topic Q & A

1/23/24  Q. In addition to training delivery, is there a requirement for the proposed system to send notifications of training completion, or otherwise automatically generate/communicate training reports?
   A. The solution should provide some form of after action to indicate the level of proficiency. Additionally, the scenario, and personnel conducting training should be included as a way to track training. As of now, communication of the training should be determined by the managers or requirements when training solution is established as a program of record.
1/23/24  Q. Is it desired that the solution be usable underway, including any real-time interactions with other participants? This question relates to available data bandwidth aboard L-Class ships.
   A. Solution should be able to be used while underway and include real-time participants as a way to increase variability of the scenario/event. If VR is used this may be problematic as inclusion of LCU/small boat into the scenario may be harder to coordinate. Initial planning should focus on a training continuum that prepares the ship's crew to receive a live craft.
1/23/24  Q. If training is required for small craft, will it be limited deck hands (line handlers) or is training also required for boat coxswains?
   A. Limited to line handlers only.
1/23/24  Q. Should proposed training focus solely on line handler tasks for L-Class personnel or will tailored training also be developed/delivered for deck hands on each class of small craft (LCU, LCAC, SSC, small boat)?
   A. Proposal should focus on LCU. Small boats will be secondary, but the same principles will be applied. LCAC and SSC do not require line handling.
1/23/24  Q. Do we need to account for the physical requirements (catwalk, etc.) in a physical solution or can they be modeled in a 3D video/VR solution?
   A. 3D video/VR solution should replicate the catwalk as much as possible as this is where the majority of the work is executed.
1/2/24  Q. Will performers be provided with images, videos, scans, or access to the L-Class ship environments?
   A. Yes
1/2/24  Q. Is the goal of the topic for the performer to focus on the creation of the virtual environment or on the training approach in Phase I?
   A. Virtual environment
1/2/24  Q. Is there a particular platform (headset, etc.) you're anticipating for this effort? Are you interested in a multi-platform approach (VR for initial training and AR for operational support)?
   A. No specific platform
Training associated with line handling is, for the most part, conducted under live conditions. There should be a way to conduct training that enhances performance prior to live execution. A multi-platform approach would ensure KSA development.

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