The CIC, Part II: Combat Systems Stations

IMG-20130320-00091Here, again, is my diagram of the CIC.  One of these days, in my copious free time (gratuitous Tom Lehrer reference), I’ll master a graphics program and start turning these things out in a manner that looks like a professional did them.  Or, you guys can get all your friends to buy these books by the bushel basket bazillions and I can pay someone to do it.  Until then, you’re stuck with the white board drawing.  At least the drawing has historical significance of a kind, because this very drawing is the means by which I found the correct arrangement of the stations by trial and error.  Those little boxes for the consoles aren’t drawn on the board, but are little strips of erasable, write on magnetic “tape” that allowed me to peel and stick the stations to try different things easily until I came up with the present arrangement.

But I digress.

As we saw on the page devoted to the Command Island and the Trench, the Trench or the Combat Situational Stations contain the people the skipper turns to when he wants to know what is going on:  where is the enemy, what’s he doing, what can he do, what are our weapons doing to him, etc.  Meanwhile, the Combat Systems Stations, located on a raised area of the deck behind the Trench, are where he turns to defend the ship and bring the fight to the enemy.  The people in the Trench have named these raised stations “The Veranda,” perhaps to imply that serving there is both leisurely and lordly.

It is neither.

Here’s a rundown on each of the stations, moving from left to right from the Commanding Officer’s perspective.

Countermeasures (CMRS):  Countermeasures consist of any active measures, short of actual boarding and sabotage, undertaken to degrade the performance of enemy systems.  They range from the astonishingly simple, such as the release of reflective metal particles (chaff) to create false sensor returns, to the staggeringly complex, such as hacking enemy computers and loading them with confusing or destructive instructions.  The Countermeasures Officer and the men in his Back Room (crew assigned to the Countermeasures Back Room are known as “Henchmen” in recognition of their goals of misdirection and deception) have a number of systems available to them that jam enemy sensors, send confusing and deceptive sensor returns, frustrate missile lock on scanners, prematurely detonate enemy weapons, and otherwise make life difficult for the Krag.

Stealth (STLH):  Stealth is the set of technologies and procedures designed to hide one’s vessel from the enemy.  Stealth measures can be divided into two categories:  passive and active.  Passive stealth consists of reducing the ships detectability by means that do not involve the expenditure of ship’s power.  Closing shutters on viewports, turning off running lights, shutting down systems that give off magnetic fields that an enemy can detect, are all passive stealth measures, as is the ship’s overall stealthy design and its non-reflective hull coating.  Active stealth includes systems that expend ship’s power for concealment.  The most important of these is TESS, the Thermal Energy Sequestration System, a complex, ship-wide system for containing the heat generated by engines, equipment, and human beings, and storing it in a massive heat sink located near the center of the ship.  TESS also includes a powerful cooling system designed to chill the ship’s hull to ambient temperature (usually just above absolute zero, roughly -273 degrees C, the temperature of interstellar space).  Thermal sequestration perhaps the most important aspect of active stealth, as a warship’s heat provides an easy means of spotting it silhouetted against the cold background of space.  The system also includes several radiator fins that, when extended, are used to radiate into space the heat stored in the heat sink.  The heat sink’s capacity is limited, however, and the ship can remain stealthed only for a limited time (which varies depending upon which ship’s systems are in use at the time).

The Cumberland and other ships of her class have the ability to emulate the electronic signature of other vessels such that, in combination with her stealth systems, the ship can appear to enemy sensors as an entirely different ship type.  The ship’s emulation systems are managed from the Stealth console.

Weapons (WEAP):  This is the console from which the ship’s offensive weapons, missiles and pulse cannons, are fired.  The Weapons Officer, acquires the targets, aims the weapons, arms them, fires, and evaluates their effect on the enemy.  He is also responsible for reporting to the commander the status of all weapons systems, organizing workarounds to keep them functioning in the event of battle damage or other casualty.  Contrary to popular belief, it is the Weapons Officer and not the Chief Engineer who commands the personnel who operate, maintain, and repair all weapons and weapons-related systems on board.  If a fire control console needs repair, the repair is performed by members of the Weapons Department, not men from Engineering.

Point Defense (PDEF):  Like modern warships, the Cumberland possesses several systems designed for defense against incoming enemy missiles.  These systems include powerful electronic signals to disrupt the missile’s computers and guidance mechanisms, Terrier anti-missile missiles, and high energy rail guns that fire electromagnetically accelerated projectiles at relativistic speeds.  Missiles travel at such high speeds that the actual aiming and timing of the firing of these weapons must be managed by computer; nevertheless, they are activated and managed by the officer who mans this station.

Fighter (FGHTR):  The Cumberland is equipped with SWACS, the Space Warning and Control System, an integrated suite of sensors, communications, and computers that allows a ship to develop a detailed tactical picture of friendly and enemy dispositions in a large volume of space and then use that picture to coordinate and control friendly fighter ships for maximum effect against the enemy.  When the ship is being used in this capacity, this console is manned by a senior commissioned officer (typically the XO) and a senior noncommissioned officer to direct the friendly fighters.

5 comments on “The CIC, Part II: Combat Systems Stations

  1. Pingback: Writing Military Science Fiction: Eras & Examples Part 1 | Stunt Word

    • This is a very kind mention in the commenter’s Blog about writing science fiction. He seems to be of the opinion that I work out minute details of how the ships work. I have no idea where he got that impression!

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