This is it
So I asked. I even poked a blogger of the right rating. But no. So, what is this thing?
Well, to truly appreciate just how detailed you can get with this identification, and to truly comprehend how totally the submarine fleet has abandoned configuration control, read the Full Post. If you just want to know what the dern thing is, click on the Full Post and scroll to the bottom ;-)
Read the Full Post
So, the switch box in question has 5 selectable positions and a whole lot of spares. The key is the first 4, for Unit 4001 and Unit 4002. The reason each has two stations is for their upper and lower displays. That's right, campers, it is a display switch. But for what, you ask?
Well, for those of you who spent a decent number of time in the cone underway probably remember the ASVDU (Auxiliary SONAR Visual Display Unit) that the OOD could use the keep an eye on the goings on in the SONAR shack. Well, recently the sub fleet has been upgrading its SONAR systems with something called A-RCI (Acoustic Rapid COTS [Commercial Off The Shelf] Insertion). Yeah, an acronym within an acronym, isn't the military grand? Well, A-RCI, being an evolutionary program, is not a one-shot and you are done kind of deal. It has multiple phases, and multiple hardware and software builds. It is the different phases that are the key here.
Phase I: This is just an add-on cabinet that did Towed Array Processing. It was basically a proof of concept for COTS SONAR processing.
Phase II: Two of the stacks in the SONAR shack are replaced with COTS stacks, which are for Towed Array Processing. (basically)
Phase III: All the stacks in the SONAR shack are replaced with COTS racks, and they handle Sphere, Hull Array, and Towed Array Handling
Phase IV: This is the High Freq. COTS upgrade, but for BSY-1 and BSY-2 only. The BQQ-5 guys are out of luck here. It replaces the HF unit in control with a COTS rack, and adds a different HF sail array.
Ahhh, but think back to the ASVDU. It was for monitoring the legacy SONAR system. So how would the intrepid OOD keep track of those SONAR techs hiding out in the shack? Well, A-RCI gave the OOD a nice flat panel (or a couple, depending on the phase and hardware build) with which he could check up on the A-RCI systems inthe shack. For Phase II it just monitored the two COTS stacks (Units 4001 and 4002), while the ASVDU continued to monitor the legacy stacks. That is why the switch had 10 slots on it, though - so it could monitor the four stacks in control plus two other aux sonar displays if it was used on a Phase III boat. However, on a Phase II boat, it had a lot of spare slots, like the one pictured.
So, the switch box above is for the A-RCI conn display on an A-RCI Phase II boat. As a side note, it would be completely against work practices and drawing specs to rig up that box so that the spare slots could be used to disaply Fire Control displays. Plus it would really tick off a SONAR LCPO that dirty Fire Control data might be displayed on his equipment. However, an OOD might appreciate such a sailor-alt, since then to see Fire Control solutions when the conn is rigged for black he would not have to stick his head out from behind the curtains and stare at the too-bright Fire Control displays, but could instead check them on a nice, properly dimmed flat panel. Not that any boat would ever rig something like this up. Nuh-uh. That would be just *wrong*