The engineers fit into the modern naval combatant ship complex by providing essential support to the offensive systems of the ship. A modern naval combatant "worth its salt" wouldn't be if it did not have radars, radios, guns or missiles--and the radars, radios, guns and missiles couldn't be without an engineering plant.
Specifically, the vital jobs we engineers have on the team are:
1. Maintain and control the main propulsion plant and all its associated auxiliaries.
2. Produce and/or provide all electric, water, heat, air- conditioning, construction and repair services required to keep the ship functional.
3. Control damage.
The mobility of naval vessels has always been and always will be of the greatest importance. The naval engineering plant must provide this mobility; the NEWPORT NEWS must be capable of moving when required, and as fast as its missions demands; of operating as far from its base of supplies as required by the tactical situation. Speed, cruising radius, and dependability are the prime requisites.
Since our ability to move through the water is of greatest importance, a brief discussion of a steam propulsion plant is in order. The main components of the system are the boiler, turbine, condenser and deaerating feed tank. Steam is generated in the water filled boiler; it is carried to the turbines which turn the propellers. The steam exhausts from the low pressure turbine directly into the condenser, where it is cooled and condensed as it comes in contact with tubes carrying coot sea water. The condensed steam is then pumped to the deaerating feed tank where it is heated and aerated and from there back to the boiler, completing one cycle.
All this equipment , plus supporting auxiliaries are located in the main propulsion spaces of the ship.
Some statistics of the NEWPORT NEWS's power plant will give you some appreciation of its great size:
1. Can produce 120,000HP.
2. Can drive the ship through the water at speeds in excess of 32 knots (37mph).
3. Most economical speed is 11.5 knots - gives endurance of over 11,000 miles (nearly half-way around the world).
4. At 20 knots - endurance of 7800 miles.
5. At 30 knots - endurance of 3450 miles.
6. Can generate sufficient electric power to light a city of 40,000 people.
7. Can distill 60,000 gallons of fresh water daily.
Moving on to the engineer's second vital job, that is, to produce or provide all the services required to keep the ship functional - it is an understatement to simply say that this job is vast and complex, because it is in this area that engineers become involved with almost every operation and every single space on the entire ship.
The far reaching effects of this responsibility are easily understood when one looks at the systems maintained and operated, the services rendered, and the repair facilities manned.
The engineering plant must furnish power to operate the weapons, and furnish means of sustaining the men who man the ship. Electric generating plants furnish the electrical energy that operates the radar, radios, the training and elevating motors of the guns, the ammunition hoists, the primers that set off the gun's propelling charge, and deck equipment such as hoists, cranes, capstans, etc. Our refrigeration plants cool and preserve our food, and distilling plants convert sea water to boiler feed water and to potable water for drinking and cooking. Other services furnished by the Engineering Department include: air conditioning, compressed air, fire and flushing water, interior communications, the steering system, the ship's gyro, and operating and servicing boat engines.
For good measure throw in the following repair services which are absoletely essential to be self-sufficient: machine shop, electric shop, metalsmith shop, pipe shop, carpenter shop, telephone shop, damage control shop and boat repair shop.
A "whale of a business" is done in this area. The machine shop can make anything from a napkin ring to the most complex part of most of the machinery. The metalsmith shop can make anything from a charcoal bar-b-cue to a heavy structural repair on the hull of the ship. The only limit is the ability of the men's equipment and cost of material.
The last of an engineer's vital jobs is control of damage. Damage control is concerned not only with battle damage but also non-battle damage such as fires, collision, grounding, or explosion.
Probably the best way to expand the term, damage control, is to describe its basic objectives.
1. Make all preparation possible before damage occurs.
2. Minimize and localize such damage as does occur.
3. Make emergency repairs and restorations after damage.
4. Formulate and coordinate defensive procedures for atomic, biological, and chemical warfare.
Maintaining the damage resistant features of the ship such as structural strength, and watertight compartmentation, plus a high state of material and personnel readiness before damage is far more important for survival than any damage control measures that can be taken after the ship has been damaged. It has been said that 90 percent of damage control needed to save a ship takes place before the ship is damaged and only 10 percent can be done after the ship is damaged. In spite of all precautions and preparations that are made before damage, the survival of the ship will often depend on prompt and correct damage control measures after the damage. It is necessary, therefore, to train the entire ship's company in damage control procedures.