The Combat Information Center (CIC) housed the ship’s air and surface radar equipment. Radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging) was one of the secret weapons of WWII. Britain used it to halt the German Luftwaffe’s air blitz of England. Some questioned its reliability and use as a military weapon, but, in time, it changed the way air and sea battles were fought.
Radar transmits microwave beams in a straight line through the air. When these beams strike an object, reflected energy (echoes) return to and is captured by the radar antennas. The effective range of search radars are extended by placing the surface and air antennas high on top of a mast. Targets can be detected by radar long before visual sightings are made. This reflected information is displayed on radar scopes as the contact's bearing and range. Radarmen “track” or plot this information and with a series of plots, over time, can determine the contacts course and speed and other vital information. The Combat Information Center (CIC) was created to employ this new equipment and house the plotting tables, internal/external communications capabilities, and various other status and plotting boards. The CIC was considered off limits because of its enormous military value. It rapidly became what the name implied, an “information center.” Information was gathered from all sources, analyzed, evaluated and passed on to those who needed it. In addition to tracking air and sea contacts and reporting their course and speed, CIC also assists in station keeping, fire control, shore bombardment, navigation, search and rescue. The CIC was the nerve center and eyes of the ship whenever the ship was underway, night, day, fog, rain, snow or clear skies. The World War II nickname for CIC was “Christ, I’m Confused.”
An operational CIC was a dimly lit compartment and rather loud due to noisy equipment. Radarmen, wearing sound powered phones, worked at surface, air and auxiliary radar sets. They also tracked air and surface contacts on surface and air plot status boards. The CIC officer and assisting radarman, manning the “JA” voice communication circuit, huddled over the DRT (dead reckoning tracer) and surface plot table. They analyzed the information gathered in CIC and passed on recommendations to the Commanding Officer or Officer of the Deck on the bridge. Occasionally, voice radio traffic could be heard transmitting to and from other ships or the bridge “squawk box.”
A status board filled with information about the local task force, such as base course and speed, task force guide with its range and bearing, other ships in the group and their designated station, weather conditions, and other miscellaneous information was positioned for easy viewing by the CIC officer. The plotting boards contained all the information about any surface or air contacts on the radar sets and identified which were friendly and which were the enemy.
Click here for a more detailed description of the equipment found in the CIC.