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The Most Decorated Ship of the Second World War

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The problem of using assigned personnel efficiently in order that al hands may get sufficient sleep is probably the biggest order that a night carrier faces. If operations are not scheduled around the clock, in the combat zone it may be expected that there will be sufficient bogies to keep everyone awake a large part of the time. During these times at GQ when there is not an imminent attack, the night crews must be allowed to caulk off in any places available or to proceed to their living spaces. The problem has been met by this ship as outlined below.

Officer Personnel

Since the major effort of the night carrier is to be put forth at night, the number one officers in each job are on duty at that time. The Air Officer is the Fly Control Officer. The Air Plot Officer is in charge of Air Plot, etc. There must be at least two officers qualified to take over each job within the Air Dept. Thus the Assistant Air Officer is the Fly Control Officer and the Assistant Air Plot Officer is the Officer in Charge of Air Plot during the day, while the "boss men" in these jobs are sleeping during daylight hours. Considerable day work may be expected even if not scheduled as the night carrier will be depended upon very often to take aboard sick planes from day carriers, particularly during the mornings.

As a result of the above, there are several positions that require more than the normal officer complements. The Catapult and Arresting Gear Officer must be on hand for all launchings and landings and there must be two such officers.

As a general rule it will be found that there is only one LSO aboard who is qualified for night landings. While planes are operated in small groups at night, it will be found that the continuous strain of short intervals between landings will soon tire the one LSO very quickly. It is therefore necessary to qualify his assistants as quickly as possible and he must have two assistants both of whom are day-qualified. One of these takes the duty from midnight to noon and the other from noon to midnight, acting as assistant during night landings while being qualified and as the LSO during day work. It is estimated that two months of normal night work are required to properly qualify an already day-qualified LSO in night landings.

Regardless of operations, the administrative and paper work, as well as the personnel work of the Air Department, continues. This necessitates the services of an experienced, competent officer with an administrative and a personnel-work background. On this ship a lieut. comdr. is assigned to the job. He works from noon to midnight in order that he may have contact with both the Assistant Air Officer during daylight and the Air Officer at night. The system has worked well and is being kept in operation. While in the operation area the deck is kept ready to operate at all times insofar as possible. Except during Flight Quarters, however, full crews are not kept on station. "Condition 14" is set at these times.

An officer is kept on watch in Air Plot keeping the Ready Rooms supplied with up-to-the-minute navigation data. During the night this officer is one of the two Assistant Air Operations Officers assigned with their primary duty as such. During daylight the photointerpreter, the aerological officer and his assistant, and the ACI Officers (when available) are used to stand those watches. During all Flight Quarters, the officer in charge of Air Plot for that period must be present.

During Condition 14 an officer is always on watch in Fly Control. Officers used for this watch are Division or Junior Division Officers of the Air Department whose normal duties can mostly be carried out by telephone. Those officers take the same watch each day in order that they may be familiar with the usual routine for that particular period. Their relation to the Air Officer (Assistant) is the same as the OOD to the Captain. They are qualified control officers for landings and launchings and are apprised of all policies to be followed in order that they may make proper decisions on any questions arising during their watches. The value of this qualification has been proven several times when the normal control officer has been caught in the head, etc. for emergency landing, or launch of planes in condition ten or eleven. Officers standing these watches include the Air Ordnance Officer and his Assistant, the Gasoline Officer and his Assistant, the V-2 Division J.O., and the Assistant Hangar Deck Officer. Each watch is of four hours duration.

As has been stated, the maintenance problem is an acute one on a night carrier. There must be an officer on duty at all times for each type of plane operated for each phase of maintenance. The Maintenance Officer himself must have an assistant who can take over the duty for one of the twelve-hour periods. The Maintenance Officer is usually on during the daylight since most upkeep work is carried out in the off-operations period.

It was found necessary to augment the Officer personnel of C.I.C. Officer requirements are at a peak during night time because of the necessity for constant radar-radio control of every plane in the air and intricacy of night interceptions. In the daytime the CV(N) is called on for as many or more interceptions than are the day carriers. The CV(N) is usually in position to handle them well due to the absence of the usual day operational problems and the comparatively high state of training of her intercept officers.

Without a Flag embarked a total of eleven officers is considered essential: Fighter Direction Officer, Assistant Fighter Direction Officer and nine watch officers, at least six of whom should be qualified night controllers. With a Flag embarked it has been found highly advantageous to have four additional officers assigned to handle the ship's information circuit in C.I.C. and, during alerts, in Flag Plot. These officers may be in training and assigned on a temporary duty basis.

Except where indicated otherwise, twelve-hour watchs are usually run from 0600 to 1800 and 1800 to 0600.

The only technical change in personnel deemed necessary is the addition of enough radar officers and technicians to maintain the planes. In the case of the complement of this ship it is four officers (two per type plane), 2 ACRT, 13 ART1c, and 13 ART2c. If these are available in the group, they should be transferred to the ship as soon as the group reports aboard.

Enlisted Personnel

The general consideration that there must be two persons for every job applies to enlisted personnel as well as to officers. In general, day crews are on from 0600 to 1800, night crews from 1800 to 0600. It is a must that crews not be broken out in the off-duty hours except in actual emergency. Such circumstances as a forced landing while the deck in not clear do not form a sufficient basis for breaking them out, for the time necessary for the men to hit the deck, dress, and get on station preludes their doing any good since the crews on duty will probably already have finished the job by the time they arrive on the deck. A tired crew is an inefficient crew, an inefficient crew is a menace on deck, particularly at night, and this problem must be borne in mind at all times if extended operations are to be successfully undertaken.

Space limitations preclude doubling up on crews and operations must be carried out with a normal complement. The ratio of the numbers of men assigned is five at night to four in the day. In special crews, such as the catapults and arresting gear crews, one extra crew is provided to continually rotate the crews on duty for one relief in three. This makes a fairly rugged watch list for these men but by judicious juggling of the watch list on the part of the officer in charge of the crews, the men have been able to get sufficient sleep to carry on.

In connection with the above, each officer in charge of an activity within the Air Department has been allowed a free hand to handle his own watch lists as necessary to keep the personnel efficiency of his men to an acceptable standard. General directives only are promulgated by the Air Officer.

Feeding the crew during night operations is a problem that is solved by serving a hot meal from 2330 to 0130. With a schedule of launches or landings every hour or two hours, it will be found necessary to allow certain crews to leave their Flight Quarters stations to eat. Here again the individual officers in charge of various crews must be allowed wide discretion. The only considerations are the normal handling of operations, the ability to man all fire stations during operations, and no delays because of manpower shortage. A system of "head-of-the-line" chow passes is in effect. These passes are handled by Air Plot and are given to the men necessary via the officers under whom they work. The Master at Arms honors these passes, collects them, and returns them to Air Plot at his earliest opportunity for re-issue. Care must be taken to see that this privilege is not abused or the "head of the line" will become longer than the regular chow line.

A further change from usual routine is the serving of the big meal of the day for the crew as the evening meal instead of the midday meal. All hands are at this meal since the time is an overlap of both the day and the night crews.

Reveille for the night crews is usually held at 1500.

The chart following[1] shows the various condition watches stood in the Air Department. In some cases officers names are entered in the various columns as the photograph was made from the working chart in use aboard.

Except for General Quarters which is always an all hands evolution, condition watches for the Air Department are run separately from the remainder of the ship and depend entirely on the necessity of maintaining planes, pilots, and the deck in readiness. Condition 14 is normally set after each condition at night and Flight Quarters sounded 30 minutes prior to the following launch/land operation.

[1] The indicated chart has been omitted from this document due to its lack of suitability for presentation on the Web.

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