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Dear Mr. Schuh,
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The ship compartment known as the Central Station during the World War II era later became known by the more descriptive as Damage Control Central. Central Station was the heart of a warship’s damage control efforts. During World War II, one of the engineering officers (in later years formally designated the Damage Control Assistant (DCA) would be stationed in Central Station along with a number of enlisted men. The ship’s damage control organization consisted of a number of repair parties stationed throughout the ship. Repair 1 covered the main deck of the ship, Repair 2, covered the forward part of the ship, and so on. The repair parties acted as the eyes and ears of Central Station, and each party had a phone talker to pass information to Central.
Central was equipped with a complete set of isometric charts of each deck of the ship--three-dimensional depictions of every compartment. Using the information delivered by the repair party talkers, the Central talker would mark the charts using standard symbology to depict whether a compartment was on fire, flooding, contained smoke, or other emergency condition. Central also may contain a stability model, a miniature version of the ship on which weights could be placed to depict the ship’s stability in a flooded state (you can see one of these in use near the end of the classic 1956 Navy flick Away All Boats starring Jeff Chandler). Using the information collected, the DCA could advise the ship’s Commanding Officer of the condition of the ship during a combat action or when the ship was in an emergency situation. Central usually was located below decks near the ships propulsion spaces (boiler rooms, main propulsion spaces, machinery rooms) in the best protected part of the ship.
The ship’s sound powered phone system could be simple or complex depending on the size and mission of the ship. The different parts of the system, called circuits, served specific ship’s functions. The different circuits were given designations that were labeled on the various sound-powered phone jacks around the ship: JA--captain’s battle circuit; JL--lookout circuit; JW--ship control bearing circuit; JX--radio and signals circuit; etc. So the JL circuit connected all the ship’s lookouts with the bridge and combat information center (CIC) and would carry information about what the various lookouts see from their position on the ship. The JZ circuit served the ship’s damage control organization with the 2JZ circuit serving the damage and stability functions and the 4JZ circuit serving Repair 2 as examples.
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