(For Engineering watches, read this)
The Officer of the Deck (OOD) is in charge of the operation of the ship in normal steaming. The OOD underway stands watch on the Bridge, overseeing the officer watches on the Bridge and the navigation of the ship. During formation operations, the OOD has to keep a lot of things going in his or her head, including station assignments, keeping an ear peeled to the two or three communications nets that are piped to the Bridge, and watching for merchant and civilian ship traffic. When the moment a ship is commissioned until it is decommissioned, there is someone standing watch as OOD. The OOD signs the Deck Log, the official watch record of the ship. Before the institution of the Surface Warfare pin for officers, you were not fully qualified until you were qualified to stand watch as an OOD in formation steaming, or OOD(F). The OOD “has the Deck.”
The Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD) is an officer who is in training to become an OOD. The JOOD is usually the conning officer, who gives helm and engine orders, the ship moves to the orders of the conning officer, who has the “Conn.” The JOOD usually is the one talking on the Bridge voice radio tactical nets and, in the day before computerized plotting equipment, the JOOD kept track of surface contacts by marking the scope face of a radar repeater with a white grease pencil.
There is only one conning officer. If the OOD or the Captain, for that matter, wants to give orders to the Helsman or Lee Helmsman, they have to first say: “This is the Officer of the Deck (or Captain), I have the Conn” and then they can give orders.
The Junior Officer of the Watch (JOOW) watchstation is normally manned only during special sea details and intensive maneuvering, such as when refueling at sea. This is often little more than a wet-behind-the-ears ensign, whose main job is to shut up and learn. The JOOW assists the OOD and the JOOD.
Quartermaster of the Watch (QMOW) writes the Deck Log under the direction of the OOD. The QMOW maintains the navigation plot.
Boatswain Mate of the Watch (BMOW) supervises all enlisted Bridge watches, except the QMOW. The BMOW is the one who handles the ship’s announcements over the general announcing system (the 1MC).
Watchstanders under the BMOW:
Helmsman- Steers the ship to the orders of the conning officer.
Lee Helmsman- Works the Engine Order Telegraph (EOT), which transmits engine orders to Main Control. The Lee Helmsman wears a sound-powered headset in the 1JV circuit, connected to the Throttleman in Main Control.
Status Board Plotter- Maintains the Bridge status board, used mainly for plotting information on surface contacts. The Plotter wears a sound-powered headset on the 1JA circuit, the Plotter gets contact information from CIC for plotting. The lookouts are on the 1JA.
Forward Lookout- Usually stands watch on the Flying Bridge, the open-air bridge one level above the Bridge itself. The Forward Lookout keeps an eye for visual contacts, both air and surface.
After Lookout- Stands watch on the Fantail. The After Lookout’s job is to watch for people falling overboard, to throw a life-buoy and smoke float, and to pass the word to the Bridge.
Messenger of the Watch- Is the gofer for coffee for the Captain and wakes up the next set of watchstanders.
Combat Information Center (CIC or Combat) Watches:
Tactical Action Officer- TAOs are usually Department Heads who have been to TAO School, which is a part of Department Head School. This watch is stood in wartime steaming. The TAO has full weapons authority if the Captain is not in CIC. The TAO is the only watchstander who does not answer to the OOD.
CIC Watch Officer- the CICWO oversees the operation of CIC. Depending on the intensity of operations, the CICWO may be a very experienced officer or an ensign who has just learned how to find CIC.
CIC Enlisted Watches:
CIC Watch Supervisor: Oversees the other CIC watchstanders.
Surface Scope Operator: Mans a radar repeater and marks all surface contacts. The SSO is the CIC phone talker to the Bridge.
Surface Plotter: Runs the Dead-Reckoning Tracer, a light table with a sheet of tracing paper over the glass. There is a lit compass rose, which indicates the ships position. The surface contacts are plotted on the trace so it is easy to see the flow of contacts.
Maneuvering Board Plotter. “Mo Board” is a sheet of paper about 16" square that has a compass ring on it, with distance rings. This is a true-motion plot with the ship in the center; the Mo Board Plotter uses the call-outs of the SSO to determine the course, speed and closest-point- of-approach of surface contacts. The JOOD or JOOW will also keep a Mo Board plot. Being able to keep track of several contacts on one sheet of Mo Board is a hard-earned skill.
Other watches in CIC depend on what is going on. For Anti-Submarine Warfare, the NC-2 plotter is manned. The NC-2 is like the DRT, except the NC-2 has lit markers that are tied into the active tracking station in Sonar Control. There may be aircraft controllers on duty for ASW or Anti-Air operations. A scope operator will man the air-search radar scope repeater when required; his watchstander will have a set of headphones on that feed to another watchstander who stands behind the large vertical plot, the plotter has to write backwards. An electronics warfare technician will run the ESM/ECM gear; the WRL-1, which was replaced by the SLQ-32. The “Whirly-One” was a manually operated system and it took a very experienced operator to get the full potential out of the WRL-1. The SLQ-32 was the first fully-microchipp’d piece of gear on a lot of ships, which required far less skill to run. EW techs hated the SLQ-32, not for the least because the detection antennas for the WRL-1 were up near the top of the radar/antenna mast, while the detection antennas for the SLQ-32 were just above CIC for a vertical difference of at least 50'. As a result, the WLR-1 had a far greater detection range, provided the EW knew his job.
Depending on the ship, the watches in Sonar Control may range from two STGs, the Sonar Watch Supervisor and an operator, to as many as ten watchstanders. The "why” gets into matters that may still be classified.