- This article is about ready rooms. The fictional room that the television series Star Trek describes as the "ready room" is known in modern parlance as the captain's sea cabin.
A ready room is a room on an aircraft carrier where on-duty pilots "stand by" their airplanes. Each flight squadron has its own individual ready room. Large squadrons, such as torpedo and dive-bomber squadrons, can have more than one ready room. Most ready rooms are located between the flight and hangar decks, but some are located on the flight deck.
Squadron pilots in the Second World War considered the ready room to be a clubroom. One personal view from a World War II pilot stated:
The funny thing about a ready room is that you get attached to the hole. As much as you are attached to the ship. It's more than sentiment. It's an urge for protection. The loneliest feeling in the whole of a carrier pilot's world is when he's at sea with the gas running low, and he can't see his carrier. You think of the ready room then, and the noisy guys who make it the most desirable place in the world. It's your office, you live in it, it is the big thing in your life. […] You sweat and worry in it, and grouse and argue, and you get mad at it when you can't hear yourself speak because everyone is yelling at once, but you're deeply attached to the place.— Tommy Booth, "Wildcats" Over Casablanca
Typical contents and personnel of a ready room
The typical ready room is equipped as follows:
- armchair seats for the pilots, usually of airliner type
- coffee and magazines
- a loudspeaker, known as the "bull horn"
- an illuminated ticker tape
- a main board at the front of the room
- a blackboard
- a "Ouija board", used to track aircraft movements
The ready room personnel comprises:
- the on-duty squadron pilots
- the squadron commander or executive officer
- the permanent duty officer
- the squadron Air Combat Information officer
- the "talker", an enlisted man who communicates with Air Plot
Also to be found in ready rooms are pilots' flying gear, including parachute harnesses, flight jackets, and helmets, ready for the pilots to put on when they leave for their aeroplanes; and assorted maps and to-scale models (of targets and of enemy ships and aircraft).
One WW2 report describes the material used by the intelligence officers in a ready room as follows:
— , "Wildcats" Over Casablanca
One humorous memorandum by a pilot on the USS Wasp (CV-18) had this to say of the Wasp's ticker tape:
When you first man your ready rooms, you will note a large screen known as a teletype. Learn to ignore this immediately. The information given on it is about as fresh as an 1873 edition of the New York Times. In between numerous erasures you will find given a point option undoubtedly used by Commodore Perry on his way to Japan in 1853. Certainly it won't apply to your present operations.— R.D. White, A Memo to CAG-81 from CAG-14
Pilots report to their ready rooms at specified times. When all on-duty pilots are present, the squadron commander informs Air Plot of this with the message that "Ready room N is manned and ready." (where "N" is the number of the ready room).
Air Plot communicates with the ready room via the "talker" and the ticker tape, which provide pilots with positions of enemy contacts. Pilots are responsible for plotting course and location information, copying "point option" from the main board at the front of the room.
The "ouija board" is a diagram of the flight deck, recording the positions of each pilot's aeroplane on the flight deck, so that he can locate it immediately. As 'planes are "re-spotted" (moved from one spot to another) on the deck, the locations are updated on the board.
Placement of ready rooms
In the autumn of 1945, CinCPAC conducted a review of aircraft carrier design, intended to produce a successor design to that of the Essex-class aircraft carrier, based upon contrasting experiences of British and U.S. carriers encountering kamikaze attacks off Okinawa. The British design had successfully resisted such attacks, whilst the U.S. design had not.
The report touched upon the issue of the location of ready rooms:
It was demonstrated with large loss of life through Kamikaze hits that the gallery deck is not the location for pilots' ready rooms. As many as possible of the ready rooms should be located inboard beneath horizontal armor and protected access to the flight deck should be furnished. BuShips is now preparing final plans for relocation of ready rooms 2, 3, and 4 to the second deck on the CV 9 class carriers, utilizing the wardroom as number 2. Number 1 should remain in the gallery deck for scrambling purposes— CinCPAC, 1945
- Stuart D. Ludlum (1991). "Ready Room and Flight Deck Operations". They Turned the War Around at Coral Sea and Midway. Merriam Press. pp. 275–276. ISBN 1-57638-085-8.
- Robert Philip Hargis & John White (2002). US Naval Aviator. Osprey Publishing. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-1-84176-389-7.
- M T Wordell; E N Seiler; Keith Ayling & Peter B. Mersky (2007). "Wildcats" Over Casablanca. Brassey's. pp. 16–17. ISBN 978-1-57488-722-8.
- USS Wasp Veterans (1999). U. S. S. Wasp CV 18. Turner Publishing Company. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-56311-404-5.
- Norman Friedman & A. D. Baker III (1983). U.S. Aircraft Carriers. Naval Institute Press. pp. 225–226. ISBN 978-0-87021-739-5.