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In sailing ships, the officers and paying passengers would have an individual or shared cabin. The captain or commanding officer would occupy the "great cabin" that normally spanned width of the stern with large windows. On a warship it would be separated from the rest of the ship, and further subdivided into daytime and night-time cabins with movable panels that could be removed down in time of battle to leave the deck clear the whole length of the ship.
In most modern warships, the commanding officer has a main cabin, the in-port cabin, often adjacent to the ship's central control room (operations room), and a sea cabin adjacent to the bridge. Thus, when likely to be called from sleep or attending to administration, the CO can appear at the Bridge or Ops room immediately. The sea cabin is sparsely equipped, containing just a bunk, a desk, and basic toilet facilities. The in-port cabin is more lavishly furnished, with separate bedroom and combination sitting room/office, and more elaborate toiletry facilities.
For ships intended to act as flagships, like the aircraft carrier the USS Lexington, the admiral also has a sea cabin (adjacent to the captain's sea cabin) and an in-port cabin, in addition to the captain. Admiral Fletcher's sea cabin in the USS Yorktown in World War II had a bed, an easy chair, a table, and a shower.
Officers will normally have their own cabins, which doubles as their office. Some senior petty officers may have a cabin for similar reasons.
In ships carrying passengers, they are normally accommodated in cabins, taking the terminology familiar to seafarers. First class cabins were traditionally referred to as staterooms, and today many cruise lines now prefer to refer to passenger cabins as staterooms or suites.
In cruise ship terms, a cabin crawl is an event where passengers tour the cabins of fellow passengers. A cruise ship may also offer a cabin crawl of cabins or suites which did not sell for a particular sailing. The purpose of a cabin crawl is to give passengers an idea of the space and layout of various cabin options for their next cruise. Cabin crawls are normally organized prior to a cruise through cruise fan websites.
In ships going into space, the cabins are required to fully supply food and oxygen for their crew. On missions lasting a year or longer, the cabins have to be self-sustaining, i.e. replenish their own water and oxygen. The space cabin for any long-range manned mission is expected to be reasonably spacious, with approximately 28 cubic metres allotted to each occupant. In addition, cabins have life support systems that should have the capability to meet a variety of off-nominal conditions, including cabin fires, depressurization, and component shutdown or failure. Frequently, these conditions occur so quickly that automatic control systems offer the only possibility for recovery. In the late 1960s, several experimental ground facilities were developed to evaluate regenerative life support systems for manned space flight.
- James L. Holloway III (2007). Aircraft Carriers at War. Naval Institute Press. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-59114-391-8.
- C. Snelling Robinson (2000). 200,000 Miles Aboard the Destroyer Cotten. The Kent State University Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-87338-698-2.
- Hugh Irvin Power (1996). Carrier Lexington. Texas A&M University Press. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-89096-681-5.
- John B. Lundstrom (2006). Black Shoe Carrier Admiral: Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal. Naval Institute Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-1-59114-475-5.
- Averill, R.D. (1968). "A systems analysis of a regenerative cabin atmosphere control system". Langley Research Center. NASA. Retrieved November 2, 2013.