530. Combat Information Center

On This Page:

  1. Level
  2. Fast Facts
  3. Exhibit Description
  4. Photos & Videos
  5. More Information
  6. Statistics

Level: Gallery Deck via the Hangar Deck

Floor plan of the gallery deck. A red star marks the center of the Combat Information Center (CIC).

Read directions to Combat Information Center

Fast Facts

  • In the combat information center, sailors used radar to identify friendly or hostile ships and aircraft.
  • Officers then used radar and other data to plan missions and make critical decisions.
Color photograph of Intrepid’s combat information center showing two radar sets and two red chairs, along with other equipment.
Radar equipment in the combat information center.

Exhibit Description

The combat information center, known as the CIC, was the brain of the carrier. In CIC, crewmembers tracked the movement of all nearby aircraft and ships, friend or foe.

The equipment they used is still here on display, behind glass walls or seen through the glass windows in doors. The section of CIC you walk through is like a narrow hallway. If you reach your hands out you can touch both glass walls at the same time.

On display to the left are original radar scopes. It was easier to see the radar screens in subdued light, so it was kept pretty dim in here. In the center of each radar set is a circular screen.  Around the screen are many knobs and dials. The equipment is all gray, and the only other color here is the red vinyl seats and seat backs of chairs the crew sat on.

On the right hangs a vertical plotting board about six feet square. It’s a big clear plastic board with a grid on it.  Crewmembers used erasable wax pencils to mark on the board the movement of ships and planes. Sailors stood behind the board and wrote backwards so that they did not block views of the unfolding information.

Photos & Videos

Video description: Curator Jessica Williams explains the coordination involved in flight missions. She begins on the flight deck, with airplanes in the background. Jessica later moves to the carrier air traffic control center and CIC (Combat Information Center). Both spaces are filled with radar equipment. Film footage shows airplanes taking off and landing on Intrepid. Historical photographs show sailors at radar scopes.

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Color photo of a man wearing blue work uniform seated in front of radar equipment looking at the camera.
A radarman sits at a radar scope in the ship’s carrier air traffic control center, located near CIC, around 1968–1971. (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of Larry J. Sokoloski. P2015.33.01)
Colored image of record player and records placed on top of a filing cabinet, next to a radar set with round screen.
Many crew members loved listening to music. Here, a record player sits next to a radar set. One album is the soundtrack to the 1965 movie “The Endless Summer.” (Collection of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Gift of Danny Camp. P2014.12.234)

More Information

An aircraft carrier is a dangerous place. Accurate and timely information can make the difference between success and failure, or between life and death.

In the combat information center, known as CIC, sailors used radar to identify nearby friendly or hostile ships, aircraft and submarines. Radar uses radio waves to detect the location, speed and direction of objects. The U.S. Navy started using this new technology during World War II. High on Intrepid’s mast, radar dishes and antennae gathered electronic data, which was transmitted to the radar sets in this and other compartments on board the ship.

The sailors who worked in CIC were called radarmen. In the dim light of CIC, a green glow illuminated their faces as they hunched over their consoles. The dim lighting made it easier to see the screens of their radar sets. An untrained eye might see a large bobbing blob on the scope. Radarmen saw aircraft—friendly or enemy. Fellow radarmen marked the large plotting boards around the room. Maintaining focus was critical, so the sailors switched positions periodically so that no one would get overwhelmed.

Radar was not the only source of information. CIC officers analyzed radar, communications, intelligence and sonar data and shared it with Intrepid’s command, who used the information gathered in CIC to make critical decisions. This information was then used to guide aircraft on missions, to employ weapons, and even to navigate the ship in difficult situations. How

On today’s naval vessels, sailors continue to gather information using radar, as well as other technologies. The men and women who perform this job are now called operations specialists.

Statistics

Range of Intrepid’s surface radar:Approx. 25 miles (40 km)
Range of air radar:300 miles (483 km)