War Instructions United States Navy 1944


Chapter 4. Individual Ship Readiness

Section I. Conditions of Readiness

400. To maintain an appropriate degree of readiness which will be satisfactory to all types of ships, the following considerations are basic:
    (a) Ships are prepared at all times, at sea and in port, to take effective action against any possible attack, even by surprise.

    (b) Provision is made for adequate rest for all personnel, to the end that they may discharge their various duties efficiently when on watch, accomplish necessary maintenance, and be fit for battle at all times.

    (c) The organization provides for the minimum shifting of personnel, and there is no diminution of fighting power in transition from a lower to a higher condition of readiness.

    (d) The organization is sufficiently flexible to allow minor adjustments from time to time to meet special situations, without serious disruption to the normal ship's routine.

    (e) There is an equitable division of labor among all members of the ship's company in meeting requirements of the prescribed condition of readiness. To this end, it is expected during condition watches that certain personnel will be assigned to stations other than their regularly assigned battle stations.

401. Rigorous and detailed standardization of battle bills and condition watch bills for each type of ship is not practicable. Standard organization bills and related instructions promulgated by higher authority serve primarily to build a proper and efficient organization, and are so regarded. Consonant with this and the considerations in paragraph 400, definite and detailed conditions are established which cover the readiness of armament, material, engineering, ammunition, aircraft, communications, and other matters as appropriate. These conditions include a highest readiness condition with all hands at battle stations, and other conditions of lesser preparedness suitable to assume in high or low visibility and in consideration of the possibilities of surface, air or submarine attack.

402. The currently effective conditions of readiness are found in appropriate publications. Responsible commanders in prescribing conditions of readiness strive to bring their commands into action at the peak of fighting effectiveness by striking a common sense balance between security and rest.

Section II. Darkening Ship

403. The officer in tactical command issues instructions regarding darkening ship and the navigational or other lights, if any, to be displayed.

404. Unless otherwise directed every ship is completely darkened from sunset to sunrise. When a ship is darkened, suitable and frequent inspections are necessary to insure that she is effectively darkened both as viewed from other ships and from aircraft.

405. A ship that is not effectively darkened is promptly informed by adjacent vessels.

406. Smoking and the use of flashlights may disclose the presence of a ship which is otherwise effectively darkened. Suitable measures are taken to prevent these practices on exposed decks or other places from which such lights might be seen by an enemy.

407. When a ship is darkened the ship's bell is not struck to indicate time; bugle calls, band music, and loud speakers are not sounded on the top side, and other noises which might disclose the ship's presence are eliminated. The whistle is used as through the ship were not darkened unless the officer in tactical command directs otherwise.

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Section III. Lights

408. Navigational lights are ordinarily not used when ships are darkened. Unless otherwise prescribed, running lights (masthead, side lights, and stern light) or side lights alone are turned on only in case of emergency and then only during the period of the emergency and only by those vessels that will probably have to maneuver. Range lights are not used at any time when ships are darkened.

409. Instrument lighting is so adjusted as not to show outside of the ship. Red or other approved colored screens are used so as not to impair the night vision of personnel on watch.

Section IV. Speed Requirements

410. When in waters where the enemy may be expected, it is desirable to have boiler power for maximum speed, but special considerations, such as fuel conservation and the disposition of screening forces to prevent surprise encounter, may make it necessary or possible to modify this requirement. The officer in tactical command, in consideration thereof, orders an appropriate engineering condition. In dispositions containing aircraft carriers the officer in tactical command gives consideration to requirements for "wind over the deck" when prescribing boiler power.

Section V. Material Casualty

411. A material casualty which impairs the ability of a vessel to maneuver or to keep up with the other vessels of her unit, or seriously reduces her fighting efficiency, is reported at once by the ship concerned ot the commander of her unit, stating whether the derangement is temporary or of a more serious character.

412. If the derangement is not temporary, the commander of the unit gives his immediate superior adequate information to enable that officer to issue appropriate instructions, and further report to higher command, if necessary.

Section VI. Exhaustion of Fuel and Ammunition

413. A ship reports at once to her unit commander, if there is a probability of her supply of fuel becoming exhausted before arrival at destination, or before completion of the operations in which she is engaged. Depending upon the situation, her unit commander arranges for refueling or, if practicable, asks for instructions from competent authority. If approaching fuel exhaustion renders it impossible for a ship to remain longer at sea, and if instructions from competent authority are not or cannot be received, such ship proceeds to the nearest available fuel supply, reporting as soon as possible the action taken.

414. A ship reports at once to her unit commander if there is probability of exhaustion of the ammunition supply of any battery. As soon as practicable after action, ships report to their unit commander the percentages remaining of ammunition, torpedoes, bombs, depth charges, planes, fuel, speed, personnel, and any other factors affecting performance of the ship.

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