Do/did all aircraft carriers or battleships have a second bridge?

Not knowing why it was important to know, I googled and the best I could come up with was that the IJN Musashi and HMS Howe did.

Do all capital ships have such a feature? If so, are they manned all the time? And if not, what effect would a lucky strike on the bridge of a modern aircraft carrier have?

What do you mean by “a second bridge”? The bridge is where the conn (vehicle control) is located; on a small craft the throttle and rudder are directly controlled from there, but on larger craft, the conn gives direction to engineering to perform changes in speed or engine function. All modern warships have a Combat Information Center (CIC) or Combat Direction Center (CDC) or something similar (often just referred to as the “tac center” or “operations”). It is usually just off the bridge and is where all the radar techs and C[sup]3[/sup]I is located (the cool graphic-y stuff you see in movies) is located. Although many smaller craft, both military and commercial have a “flying bridge” (a conn that is up above, usually open, to offer better visibility than the wheelhouse) I don’t believe this is a feature on any modern vessel, though in case the bridge were completely inoperable it would be possible to operate the vessel from engineering. On submarines, the bridge is basically the top platform of the sail, but is only used coming in and out of port; otherwise, the captain, pilot, diving officer, and navigator are in the “conn” within the pressure hull.

The nautical term “bridge”, by the way, is a modern invention. On sailing craft the captain commanded from the aft deck or (for larger vessels) the quarterdeck, which gave maximum view of the condition of the sails and rudder but often little or no view of the field of combat, which was often obscured at distance engagements by the canvas, especially in a stern chase. The bridge came about on steam craft with paddlewheels and was a literal bridge from conn to stern allowing the skipper to transit from the wheelhouse to the aft of the boat and have a virtually unobstructed view of the field of combat. This became important when guns were deck-mounted and capable of swiveling, which meant that it wasn’t possible to have observers on the main deck during engagements. Although bridges disappeared with oil-boilers and submerged screw propellers, the term remained to mean the compartment in the superstructure (that above the main hull) that houses the conn.

Bridges and superstructure in general are becoming something of an anachronism; they increase the radar cross-section and offer no advantage in a combat situation in which engagements take place in over-the-horion (OTH) scenarios (engagement with ballistic or cruise missiles).


Smoking is no longer allowed on US navy ships. So there is zero chance of a “Lucky Strike”. But you can find a Chesterfield in the captain’s quarters. Snerk, snort, gawfaw. Live from Antioch, it’s Saturday Night!:wink:

The bridge on a warship is where the captain sits during battle. It’s full of communications and control links that allow him to command the ship. If the bridge gets taken out during battle, is there a SECOND BRIDGE, where the XO and a second bridge crew have all the same control links ready to take over? This is rather common in science fiction, is it real on today’s largest warships?

Can’t speak for all ships, but…

When I was on the Nimitz, as I was going through my various checkouts in the process of my power plant qualifications, I remember going to “Central Control” in the bowels of the ship to get a checkout from the electrician’s mate who was running the ship’s electrical load center.

During our session, he asked me if I had ever seen “Secondary Control”, which I admitted never having heard of. It turns out that one of the duties of the watch station was to be the keyholder for the “second bridge” you refer to.

He took me to a door in the back of the room, unlocked it and showed me in.
The first thing I noticed was the standard engine order telegraph. But a quick glance showed me that there were all of the trappings of running a warship from the bridge located there.

To be honest, that room made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The fact of the matter is, if anyone ever needed to run the ship from this place buried deep in the center, things were probably looking pretty bleak.

ETA: You asked if they are manned all the time. This one wasn’t. I don’t know if it was manned at general quarters, since my battle station was elsewhere.

We had as secondary command center on the USS Ranger (Aircraft Carrier of the Forrestal Class from the 50s). It was not really thought of as a Bridge but it was one of the places for emergency control in case the Bridge was taken out. I know almost nothing about it though.

In theory the CIC (I think this is what it was called) electronic warfare centers on the Carriers and the Rebuilt Battleships of the 80s & 90s could have also been used fairly easily. In fact I think that when I was on board, this was actually the #2 location for ship command and the Aux Conn or whatever it was called was a bit of a relic.

I thought that was the head.

Sorry. I got nothin’.

I believe modern AC carriers actually have 3 bridges. One for the battle group Admiral, One for the Captain of the ship, and one for aircraft control, stacked 3 high.

Yes. Like Morgenstern said. Even smaller ships can have them. I was on a Light Cruiser of 16,000 tons, 600 feet long, that had a Captain’s bridge and, above it, a Flag bridge, the latter named for the admiral that might be assigned to have the ship as his flagship whence he would command his fleet or squadron. I was a member of the Flag Allowance (enlisted personnel staff) of a 3-star admiral for two years.

Yes, there’s the main bridge in the saucer section, and a battle bridge near the shuttlecraft hangar.

That’s why you’re asking, right?

Not stacked 3 high. the Fly Pry is behind the navigation bridge facing aft.

The yet-to-enter service Queen Elizabeth class Royal Navy carrier has separate superstructures for ship operations and air operations. Both are referred to as bridges, although the latter is really a control tower. It’s not clear if ship operations could be directed from the rear bridge if the forward bridge were damaged or something, which I think is what you’re asking.

The ship’s long range radar system is mounted in the forward (ship operations) bridge, and a secondary midrange system is mounted in the rear bridge.

Toured the USS Midway (aircraft carrier permanently docked as a museum ship in San Diego) last spring. Was told that there is a second bridge under the front of the deck.

True. In the Senior Service, you can’t get killed on a Lark.

Because it wouldn’t be Kool.

I remember being on HMS Belfast in London and visiting the Ships bridge and the Admirals Bridge right above it. It was there so that the Admiral could direct the fleet and/or battle without interfering with the functioning of, or being distracted by, his own ship.

Though you are more than welcome ashore at Newport or Salem for some shore leave. Don’t forget to bring your Camel.

Even destroyers have a secondary conn:

I believe the location of the secondary control can vary. On a carrier, the regular (main) bridge is on the island superstructure. In this forum, the sec conn on the USS Ranger (CV4) was forward, under the flight deck overhang. (See the 6th post.)

On battleships and cruisers, they built a set of controls in the “Conning tower”, which was an armored structure intended to be used during combat. However, visibility from them sucked, and few, if any, Admirals or Captains seemed to have used them.

Yes, that’s what I meant. The thing where the captain sits and shouts “all ahead full” and someone repeats “all ahead full” and then someone else pulls the lever that makes a ringing sound and says “all ahead full” and then someone else in the engine room shouts “all ahead full” and they start shovelling more coal.

That’s probably why my Google searches were so feeble :o Ignorance fought, I had no idea there were stacked bridges too.

Kind of.