Wednesday, 17 June 2015

HMCS PRESERVER: Bridge and Ops Room Tour

As the largest ship (nominally) in commission with the RCN, it might not be a surprise that PRESERVER also has the largest bridge. Located at the top and forward end of the forward superstructure island, it spans the full 76 foot beam of the ship (if one includes the two bridge wings). 

Looking to port on the bridge of PRESERVER.
Perhaps due to its size, and because the AOR's don't have all the sensors and weapons found on the frigates and destroyers, PRESERVER's bridge is comparatively uncluttered. Up front are the chairs for the CO and XO, while immediately behind is the control console housing the steering and engine telegraph. I believe the XO's chair is shown here, on the starboard side.

This compass is located roughly on the ship's centreline.
The two grey boxes hanging on either side of the window above the compass indicate RPM (for the shaft I assume) and rudder position. 

Looking to port and slightly aft.

Looking to starboard. The grey console is (I think) the chart plotter, with the chart table to the right.
PRESERVER's Ops room is immediately aft of the bridge on the port side of the ship, and is home to various radar displays. For this reason, I suspect the grey box in the centre of the image above is the electronic chart plotter. Perhaps someone can correct me if I am wrong. I believe the CO's chair is on the port side, shown in the photo above. Beyond the chart plotter is the helm station.

Helm station.

Helm station, with the engine telegraph to the right, and a SHINCOM panel (black with blue, orange, and white buttons) below.
Above the helm station are what I suspect are two gyro compass readouts. Somewhere in here will be the controls for the bow thruster, either to the right or left of the helm, but I am not sure which. 

I suspect this panel repeats some of the information from the MCR regarding engine and boiler operation, but annoyingly the image is too blurry to zoom in and read the details.
In addition to the bridge shown above, there is also an open bridge on the deck above. Although previous generations of warships could be expected to be operated from the open bridge (indeed, many WWII warships had ONLY an open bridge), PRESERVER normally only staffs the open bridge with lookouts during Replenishment At Sea (RAS) operations. However, basic information displays are available (I suspect rudder position and RPM to match the ones on the bridge below, and probably a patch into the ship's comms, but I didn't get a good shot) so presumably the ship could be commanded from this position if necessary, although I suspect that any event that takes out the main bridge would also take out the open bridge directly above.

Looking forward on the port side of the open bridge. The port "big-eye" can be seen in the image centre.
The open bridge is accessed via the ladder to the left, coming up from the port bridge wing. There is an identical ladder on the starboard side. The platform to the right of the photo most recently supported the Phalanx CIWS, however, this was removed several years ago to reduce maintenance costs and manning requirements on these ships. 

Looking to starboard. A compass, and what I suspect are rudder position and RPM displays, are on the centreline. The starboard "big-eye" can also be seen in the background, along with a few searchlights.
The photo above shows how exposed the open bridge on PRESERVER is, much more so than ships where the open bridge was intended to be regularly used at sea, and would not have been a pleasant place to be in any sort of weather. I seem to remember being told that it was typically used mainly when coming into port, but I may be wrong and lookouts may be kept above more than that. The open bridge is used during RAS operations, while lookouts would normally be posted to the port and starboard bridge wings.

Ops room looking forward and to starboard. The bridge is through the door to the left.
The ops room is situated immediately aft of the bridge, and is home to displays for the various radars on the ship. Presumably the two local control panels for the Phalanx CIWS would have been installed here as well, before they were removed. The three radar displays from centre to left of the image are, from left to right, for the SPS 502 air/surface search, the masthead F-band navigation radar, and the I-band navigation radar (mid-mast). There is a fourth display partially obscured to the right, which is presumably for the bridge-mounted Furuno navigation radar.

PROTECTEUR and PRESERVER were originally fitted with ASW sonar domes which could be raised or lowered, however, the sonars themselves are not fitted (and may never have been fitted). Presumably the displays for the sonars would have been installed here if the sonars themselves were ever fitted.

On the modern frigates, the Ops room is several decks below the bridge, whereas PRESERVER's bridge crew has easy access without resorting to ladders.

As always, comments and corrections are welcome.

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