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EMCON Keeps Ships Out of Sight

Kitty Hawk News Release

Release Date: 11/05/2002

By: JOSN David Beyea

Science fiction cloaking technology meets reality aboard Navy ships the with the setting of emission control.

"Emission control (EMCON) is the managing of our ship's electro-magnetic spectrum, which covers everything from infrared signals to satellite communication," said Electronic Warfare Chief (SW/AW) Andrew S. Brooks, USS Kitty Hawk's electronic warfare leading chief petty officer.

Hawk, like all ships, puts out electro-magnetic signals, from equipment that is being operated, which translates into information for possible enemies. EMCON limits the amount of information that gets out, explained Brooks.

"EMCON can give us a tactical advantage over any adversaries," said Brooks, "which can save the lives of the entire crew, in a battle situation."

There are four conditions of EMCON, which prevent this information from escaping Hawk, said Brooks.

The first EMCON condition is EMCON alpha. "Alpha is what we use to disappear," explained Brooks. "Like a cloaking device."

Next is EMCON bravo, which is used to hide from satellites. After Bravo comes EMCON Charlie. Charlie is set in order to protect Hawk. During a combat situation, Charlie prevents Hawk from being targeted by enemies, explained Brooks.

"We're trying to deny information from someone trying to target the ship," said Brooks.

The last setting is EMCON delta, where all equipment essential to operations is authorized, said Brooks.

All designated equipment must set within ten minutes of the announcement to shift to a particular EMCON condition. After EMCON is set, the EW Module monitors what "information" Hawk is radiating.

Electronic warfare module personnel, however, are not the only people responsible for EMCON.

"Anything a Sailor does, such as keep doors closed or radios off, to help deny information to the enemy can help," said Brooks. "Any equipment that isn't absolutely necessary to accomplish the current mission should be turned off."

Sailors can also help maintain EMCON in other ways.

"Darken ship" is a basic part of EMCON, which everyone aboard Hawk can contribute to. Preventing light from escaping Hawk helps keep information away from adversaries, explained Brooks.

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