NAPLES, Italy – One of the most low-tech pieces of equipment on one of the Navy’s most high-tech ships is being replaced.
The “Ouija Board,” which has tracked aircraft movement on aircraft carriers since World War II, is being phased out of the sea service in the name of technological development.
It is the simplest of systems aboard nuclear reactor-powered ships. In a room next to the flight deck, with a window overlooking part of it, a handler officer watches over a tabletop model of the carrier. The officer’s assorted crew move models of jets, helicopters and other assets around the model deck to match the movements of the real-life counterparts lumbering just outside.
Updates are documented by sailors on the deck and delivered to the Ouija board’s operators. Small bolts are placed upright or on their sides to signify whether an aircraft has received fuel.
The Ouija board’s computerized replacement is currently only onboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, where its performance will be evaluated this summer. Plans are to install the new system on all carriers by 2015, according to Marcia Hart-Wise, a spokeswoman with Naval Air Systems Command.
It wasn’t broke. Quit trying to fix it. It’s not like it’s driving down the costs of buying ships.