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The University of Southampton

New facility to develop submarine command teams of the future

Published: 14 July 2014

The University of Southampton has launched a new research facility that will help to develop the submarine command teams of the future.

The Command Teamwork Experimental Test-bed (ComTET) is a full-size model of a submarine control room with command posts and computer simulations that can be adapted for a variety of scenarios.

The facility was built as part of a three-year contract, awarded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) via the Defence Human Capability Science & Technology Centre (DHCSTC) framework, to undertake novel research that will lead to the development of new ways of working for submarine command teams. It is managed in collaboration with partners from the Royal Navy, Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and Dstl.


Commander Bruce Russell from the Royal Navy, who officially opened the facility last month, said: "It is fantastic to see the facility transformed from an empty room into a really exciting experimental test bed, which will allow us to model submarine control rooms of today and develop them for the future. I would like to knowledge the hard work of the Southampton team, particularly Aaron and Daniel, for building this facility from scratch. I'm very pleased with what I have seen and I look forward to seeing the research develop and shape future science and technology work."

Future submarine command teams face the challenges of increasing amounts of data coupled with reduced staffing brought about by increased automation.  The future of effective command decision making in these teams will be dependent upon high-quality empirical evidence from well-controlled experimental studies, with high statistical power, that can clearly demonstrate the benefits and pitfalls of new team structures, allocation of system functions, ways of working, communication media, interfaces, job aids and work design.

ComTET director Professor Neville Stanton, from the University's Transportation Research Group, says: "The spirit of the work is to follow a planned programme of research developed with the stakeholders, while retaining the flexibility to respond to particular needs of the Navy's maritime capability. While the work is submarine focused, the findings will generalise to command teams on other platforms."

Professor Stanton has two full-time research staff working on the project: Dr Aaron Roberts and Daniel Fay.  For more information, contact

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