NT 4.0 (ALMOST) SINKS THE US NAVY The Aegis missile cruiser, USS Yorktown, experienced some software glitches with its new PC systems running Windows NT last year. To be exact, the U.S. Navy had to tow the ship back to port. The ship was part of a pilot program to install PCs to reduce manpower, maintenance and costs. However last September, after some "bad data" was fed into the system, the ship was crippled during maneuvers because of massive system failures. According to Government Computer News, a database overflow caused the ship's propulsion system to fail. "We are putting equipment in the engine room that we cannot maintain and, when it fails, results in a critical failure," said Anthony DiGiorgio, a civilian engineer with the Atlantic Fleet Technical Support Center in Norfolk. According to DiGiorgio, it took two days of pierside maintenance to fix the problem. In a GCN interview, DiGiorgio was critical of using Windows NT on a Navy ship. DiGiorgio, who has worked on Navy ships for the past 26 years said, "Using Windows NT, which is known to have some failure modes, on a warship is similar to hoping that luck will be in our favor." The military has typically relied on UNIX based system for computing, however in March of 1997, both Pacific and Atlantic fleets selected NT 4.0 as the standard OS for both networks and PCs. Ron Redman, deputy technical director of the Fleet Introduction Division of the Aegis Program Executive Office, said there have been numerous software failures associated with NT aboard the Yorktown. "Refining that is an ongoing process," Redman said. "Unix is a better system for control of equipment and machinery, whereas NT is a better system for the transfer of information and data. NT has never been fully refined and there are times when we have had shutdowns that resulted from NT. Because of politics, some things are being forced on us that without political pressure we might not do, like Windows NT," Redman said. "If it were up to me I probably would not have used Windows NT in this particular application. If we used Unix, we would have a system that has less of a tendency to go down." In the end, what you ask caused such a colossal failure on the Yorktown? According to a military memo, "the Yorktown lost control of its propulsion system because its computers were unable to divide by the number zero."