Aircraft Carrier Survival – Damage Control Guide

A general guide on how to nurse your carrier back to full fighting strength following receipt of battle damage.

Guide to Damage Control

How Damage is Depicted

When your carrier sustains battle damage its a bit anticlimactic. You start with a notice of the carrier under attack with enemies depicted at some distance from the center of your radar screen. The attacking icons will indicate the strength and nature (traditional or kamikazee) of the incoming attack. I’ll try and cover how to read and respond to an incoming attack in a separate guide. But for common point of reference the following image shows a 3 wave attack consisting of a 13 level carrier attack followed by a 14 level carrier attack and finally a 11 level escort attack.

When the attack happens you will see your anti-aircraft guns spring into action, the associated attack disappear from your radar and eventually you’ll see the attacking planes and their bombs flash across the screen. Scenes from an attack:

If you have an active CAP mission going you’ll get a center screen pop-up indicating your CAP tangled with the opposing force and likely sustained damage. After you dismiss that you’ll get your first active notifications of damage. There’s no alarm bells, screen shake or visible explosions on the exterior of your ship. The voiceover doesn’t say you were hit by a torpedo or bombs or anything. You may see some waves crash up or an small explosion looking thing if you happen to be in the section view but It’s basically a flip of switch and suddenly your ship is all out of sorts.

Now that we understand that, let’s look at how the game informs you about damage to your ship.
This can come in several forms. On the top ribbon you’ll see a DC icon (DC hardhat with explanation point) with a number beneath it. This represents the number of unique damage items your DC teams need to address. In this case I have 6 damage repair tasks to manage.

Looking again at the picture above (which is from the sections view) you see another way that damage is depicted. In this case you’ll note 4 red x icons over different sections in my carrier indicating that 4 sections need gear type repair teams or the malfunction button applied. The remaining 2 of the 6 damage items I’m dealing with would be offscreen in other sections. In center screen you see a hammer and gear which indicates I clicked the repair Damage Control button on that section. Just to the right of that you’ll see one of my repair teams acting on a different malfunctioning section. More on how to use those buttons and DC teams in a following section. If you look carefully you will note that the general appearance of a malfunctioning section also changes to indicate some level of disrepair. This could be broken pipes, equipment in disarray, etc.

In addition to malfunctions you may sustain flooding (water drop icon and visible flooding of the compartment), fires (flame icon plus they’re animated and hard to miss, see example in middle of the following picture), plane crashes (exclamation point icon on the deck in picture above with an associated visible plane wreck), and medical events.

Plane crashes have the effect of blocking all deck operations (and clearing the deck queue) so they should be addressed fairly promptly. A gear type DC team can be assigned to push the wreck off the deck.

Like plane crashes, medical emergencies are technically not damage per se but are managed with DC teams nonetheless. Medical emergencies have a red cross icon and also you’ll see a man down. These sailors are so injured they can’t walk themselves to sick bay which is why a medical type DC team has to dispatched to assist them from where they fell to the sick bay.

The final way that damage is depicted is with verbal announcements. Don’t count on these as they seem to lag the other indications and sometimes I’ve had the voice telling me some sort of damage existed that I had already resolved and it seems that sometimes not all damage types are voiced. So voiceovers seem to be the slowest way of knowing about damage but they are not totally useless. You’ll hear messages such as the following:

  • Admiral, we’re taking water, send DC teams…
  • Damage reported below decks, send DC teams…
  • Admiral, one of your crew members needs urgent medical attention, send DC teams
  • There’s a fire below decks, send DC teams….
  • Admiral, a section below decks has malfunctioned, send DC teams…
  • A section has shut down due to damage… (in more extreme cases)

Voiceovers can be helpful for you to recognize that perhaps you don’t have teams dedicated to address the right type of damage event to clear your ship so do pay attention to any particularly persistent repeated voice message if you aren’t actively managing damage control.

A special note on extreme damage… Throughout the game your ship may sustain greater than normal damage. Destroyed and irreparable sections will have a large X icon

You may also sustain so much damage that your carrier is in danger of total loss. In this case the top ribbon icon changes from the DC hardhat + exclamation point to a red colored flag with carrier and cross icon and a percentage number next to it. The greater the number, the closer you carrier is to complete loss. 100% = carrier down.

So far I’ve only experienced this as part of a scripted campaign sequence or when I intentionally took my strike fleet in range of coastal artillery just to see what would happen.

However you find out about damage to your ship, you’ll definitely want to make sure the damage is properly dealt with or risk mission failure and loss of your ship.

DC Team Types and Repair Buttons

There are 4 types of DC teams and you’ll need to know how to use each type.

  • Repair – represented by the gear icon and used to fix malfunctioning or destroyed sections.
  • Deflood – represented by the water drop icon and used to pump out flooded compartments.
  • Medical – represented by the medical cross icon and used to transport injured crew to sick bay.
  • Firefighting – represented by the flame icon and used to extinguish fires.

Crews are represented in the section view by a crew member picture in a circle. Periodically you will see dotted lines depicting crew travel paths as they move throughout the ship performing their assigned tasks. It’s impossible to tell what a given crew is working on from the bubble on the section view, but you can match the crew picture to the crew tracker on the right side of your user interface to see what a given crew’s assignment is. Note that a crew will only address the damage type it is assigned to manage. In large damage events there are likely a disproportionate number of the various damage types and certainly more damage than available DC crews. You must dynamically change DC team assignments to ensure you are getting maximum work from your DC crews. Try not to avoid an idle team by periodically scrolling around in the section view and adjusting your DC crew assignments as needed. You may also get verbal prompts when certain damage types need crews to address. Try and keep a mental tally of the number of total damage events that remain. Ideally you will see a steady decrease in number. If the number seems to stall at some point, then check to make sure you have the right crew assignments to address the unresolved damage types.

Only 2 damage types can be addressed by repair buttons (that being malfunctions and flooding) and its a bit tricky to figure out how to use these buttons but they are excellent tools worth figuring out how to use when dealing with heavy damage events. To the lower right of your display, beneath the pictures of the various crews and the words Damage Control are your two DC buttons. You’ll have two buttons either 2x maintenance, 2x deflooding or one of each depending on your island settings.

In order to use a given button you must have a DC team staged in the respective control center to enable the button. In the picture below you’ll note there is a flooding DC team in the pumps room (compartment with large blue water drop icon) and thus my deflooding button is active as signified by its brighter appearance.

To use it click the button first and your cursor will change from a simple pointer to a pointer with a water drop next to it. Next click in a flooded room to start a rapid draining of water. This will happen without a DC team needing to actually be present in the flooded compartment!

In the picture above, note that there is not a DC team staged in the damage control section (compartment with the gear and hammer icon) and thus the button is not active (indicated by a more muted color scheme). This mean any repairs are only performed when a DC team actually travels to the damaged section.

Think of the DC buttons as your express damage mitigation buttons. There is no cooldown or delay as DC crews travel and you can rapidly repair/deflood sections if you working actively in sections view to click your way through the damaged sections. The trouble comes with getting the DC crews to the respective damage control centers and keeping them there. The surest way I’ve found to keep the buttons active is to assign at least 2 DC teams to control the damage associated with the button you want to activate. One DC team will eventually find its way to the center (unless the center itself is damaged) while the other runs from section to section. In theory taking manual control of DC teams from the island should allow you to send a DC crew directly to a center to activate its button but I find it too easy to get them there and then accidentally click somewhere else and pull them away or reroute them before they are on station to activate the button. It also seems that sometimes they’ll run off on their own to tackle a single section of the damage type they are assigned to vs staying put and keeping the button active

If you know you are about to take damage it may even be worth initially setting 2 teams to both repair and deflood initially to have buttons active for early damage mitigation and then adjust your teams as needed based on what damage needs the most teams devoted to it. Here’s a screen capture showing repair and deflood DC teams at the ready with both buttons activated.

Its definitely worth knowing where your pump and damage control room are for the carrier you are working with. If either gets knocked out and you want to re-enable that express damage mitigation capability then take manual control of DC teams and send them to these two key sections to restore them to full working order.

DC Team Pathfinding vs Manual Control

Leaving DC teams to their own devices works fine if you’re only dealing with a few damage events. Simply make sure to have at least one team assigned to each damage type you are dealing with and eventually they’ll sort it all out. Unfortunately, damage control teams don’t seem to be the best at knowing how to move efficiently throughout the ship and also follow orders to a fault. A team assigned to address a given type of damage (say repair) will sit by idly when there is no further damage tasks they are ordered address as the section just next to them goes up in flames. As such when you’re dealing with a greater number of damage events you’ll likely need to take a more active role.

Additionally if you wish to use the DC buttons it takes typically 2 teams dedicated to the task to ensure you’ve got one team keeping the button active.

Island and Order Based Damage Control Actions

While the majority of this guide deals with your actions in the section view, there are some limited but important damage control actions that can be taken with officers either on the island or with orders. Mastering these additional tools will take your damage control skills to the next level.

Key Sections by Carrier Type

The following subsection will include screen captures for each of the 3 carrier types and indicate what sections can have more significant impacts to your ongoing operations and thus should be prioritized for repair.

Most important sections (particularly those associated with department you can actively assign crew to) have multiple parts. As damage overcomes a given department you’ll see lockouts on the crew assignment screen associated with subsections that are malfunctioning or damaged. Lose all subsections and you won’t be able to assign a single person to that department without using the Engineering department if that’s still unscathed. Having a ship full of damage with a destroyed damage control section can be a bear to manage but you can survive this.

Final Thoughts

Managing a damaged carrier is an essential skill for any admiral. As with most skills the best way to refine it is to practice. I encourage you to consider intentionally under defending an incoming attack or for a brief but intense lesson put your strike force in range of an active coastal artillery installation. If you are careful you can do as I did and launch a strike from just outside artillery range and have your carrier travel into range, sustain an initial attack and have your airmen defeat the gun before the second fatal salvo is fired. Probably best to start small though and maybe slowly reduce the defense you mount in response to an incoming carrier attack to force yourself to have to deal with damage. Maybe let a submarine hit you (they seem to be more annoyances than fatal in my experience). As your skills grow, continue to allow your carrier to sustain more damage until you find the level which you can comfortably manage without breaking a sweat.

When I began my initial campaign missions I thought that I had to get my carrier defense equal to the incoming attack value in order to survive. As I’ve gained experience and comfort in managing damage to my carrier I now make more tactical decisions in how much damage to accept in any given attack. In late campaign this skill becomes essential as the enemy throws more and more waves at you that you simply will be unable to defend with equivalent strength. Between the limits of your available squadrons, inevitable repairs to fighters needed after CAP missions, AA and escort defense cooldown times and the need to also be able to defend your escort fleet you must be able to deal with a damaged carrier. Escorts will live or die based solely on that difference between attack and defense values in effect at the time the attack occurs. A carrier however can survive a greater attack/defense differential still return to full fighting strength by allowing it to take some level of damage and then repairing the ship.

When dealing with damage control, be mindful of your ongoing air operations. It can be easy to get tunnel vision and focus on the next fire or the next flooded compartment and forget to recover or launch missions. Most damage will have minimal if any impact to your ability to continue using your carriers air wing. In one recent game I got so wrapped up in managing what seemed like an endless wave of enemy attacks that I failed to plan and launch a simple 3-4 squadron mission to finish off the final objective in all the chaos. While I took pride in masterful sequencing of defense points from AA, CAP and escort active skills coupled with strong damage control to actively survive hours of sustained attacks without the loss of an escort or my carrier, I unnecessarily prolonged the mission by becoming so singularly focused.

Even if you are not in a scenario like mine where the mission could be completed with a single strike, remember the mantra that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Destroying the carrier or air base that is likely sending the scouts and waves of attacks can earn you a much needed reprieve. As you build your proficiency with damage control you’ll learn when its safe to leave your DC teams on autopilot and right to get on with other tasks that only an admiral can do. Good luck and may your prowess in repairing your ship guide you safely back home!

Written by txrocketman

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