In all the science fiction TV shows and movies we see, it all seems to depict a future in which everything we seem to interact with is either made using a touchscreen display or a hologram. As it stands, a lot of our gadgets are already making that transition, but it seems that as far as the US Navy are concerned, physical controls are still the best.
This is following an accident that took place back in 2017 in which the USS John S. McCain had a collision which resulted in 10 Navy sailors being killed. Part of the reason behind the collision was due to the use of a touchscreen interface in which it seemed that its design was overly complex, which coupled by the seemingly lack of training resulted in the accident.
As a result, the US Navy will now be ditching the touchscreens used in its destroyers over the course of the next 18-24 months, where they will be replacing them with more conventional helm controls and physical throttles. The changes will affect all DDG-51 class ships that use the Integrated Bridge and Navigation System.
According to Program Executive Officer for Ships Rear Adm. Bill Galinis, “When we started getting the feedback from the fleet from the Comprehensive Review effort – it was SEA 21 (NAVSEA’s surface ship lifecycle management organization) that kind of took the lead on doing some fleet surveys and whatnot – it was really eye-opening. And it goes into the, in my mind, ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’ category.”