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While not all maps contain aircraft and fewer still contain submarines, there is only one map in the entire game, both single player and multiplayer, that lacks ships (that map is Air Superiority at Luzon).

Warships come in several shapes and sizes, each of which has with a two-letter designation which reflect what kind of ship it is.

Abbreviation Type
DD Destroyer
CL Light Cruiser
CA Heavy Cruiser
BB Battleship
CV Aircraft Carrier
AK Cargo Ship
PT Patrol Boat
SS Submarine
LST Landing Ship (Tank)
LCP Landing Craft (Personnel)

Moving and Looking[edit]

The helm of a ship. Note the arrow pointing upwards above the wheel - this gives the position of your rudder.

Use the move controls to look around your ship. This is identical to how you aim.

Pressing the accelerate key will slide the bar on the side of the helm to the top of the screen - pressing decelerate will move it down. There are four speeds which the ship operates at:

  • Full: The ship will move as fast as it can.
  • Half: The ship will move at half speed.
  • Stop: The ship will stop.
  • Back: The ship will start to move backwards.

The rudder controls will steer your ship. If you've played racing games before, your ship's rudder works almost identically to a racecar's front wheels - they steer the ship left and right. It should be noted, however, that with the notable exception of PT boats, a ship's rudder will maintain a turn until you correct it (or if the computer takes over). Be sure, therefore, to watch your direction of travel and that you don't accidentally bump into land, which causes a small amount of damage to your ship. PT boats' rudders snap back to their neutral state when not turning, making PT boats more like cars than other warships.

Aiming and Firing[edit]

Some weapons - namely torpedoes and depth charges - do not take weapon elevation into account.

When in command of a ship, use the camera controls to look around. This is also how you aim your weapons. To fire on an enemy, just put your cursor over the enemy target and open fire. Use your binoculars to view distant targets. Warships have 4 kinds of weapons - only destroyers and the Japanese PT boat sport all four.

  • Anti-Aircraft weapons, the smallest guns on your ship, are obviously meant for taking down enemy aircraft. They also, however, can be used against patrol boats in particular given their very low armour. AA does no damage against anything larger than a PT boat.
  • Artillery are the main cannons on your ship. Use these to smack large armoured targets. Most of the time, this will be another ship, but it can also destroy enemy land installations too.
  • Torpedoes are the deadliest weapon on your ship. Unfortunately, they are very slow and very easy to dodge, especially if fired singly. Only direct hits will count, so it's possible to miss by mere centimetres. Torpedoes are also the only weapon on a warship that has limited ammunition.
  • Depth Charges are the only way of attacking a submerged submarine. Torpedoes don't run deep enough to strike submerged subs (although they can hit if on the surface). Fortunately, depth charges cause major damage, even at near-misses.

Skilled artillery gunners use the splashes to determine whether to angle the guns down or up - if the splashes are behind the enemy, angle the guns down - if they are in front, angle the guns up.

Air Defences[edit]

Don't lead your targets too much, or else your crew will aim for thin air instead.

Contrary to popular belief, you actually don't need to lead your targets much when it comes to anti-aircraft armament. Put your cursor over the enemy, and when it gets nice and big, open fire. Adjust your guns as necessary, but don't lead too much or else you'll end up missing your targets. Your crew are smart enough to lead targets for you, so don't worry too much about them.

Anti-aircraft fire can also be used to great effect on enemy patrol boats. Don't bother using them against anything bigger though.

Machine guns are typically good at low-flying planes, and flak guns against high-flying planes. Use the tracers and flak shot trails to ensure the enemy is bracketed with multiple hits. It doesn't take a lot of ammo to send enemy aircraft down. Speaking of ammo, you have an infinite amount of it, so go ahead and use the "spray and pray" method of shooting down enemy aircraft if you'd like.

Unless you're a patrol boat, don't worry about strafing runs. Use the enemy fighters as target practice as they try to damage your hull with their pea-shooters.


Lead your target by about 50% as a general rule.

Artillery, on the other hand, demands you lead your target considerably. As a general rule, estimate the length of the ship when at its broadside. If you were to put another ship from stem to stern, in front of the enemy, aim for the imaginary ship's center. If the enemy doesn't change his or her course, you should be landing hits right on the enemy's bridge - which doesn't cause big damage, but it should be at least several direct hits.

As for cannon elevation, watch the splashes from your previous hits. If they are behind the enemy, lower your gun elevation. If they are in front, raise your cannon elevation to push them back. After two volleys you should start landing hits on the enemy warship.

Points to hit for on an enemy warship particularly involve the stern, which contains the enemy fuel tank. Hits here should start a fire, just as shown. The AI may be smart enough to launch torpedoes in a fan, but not enough to redirect crew to fire duty, so a fire should be more than enough to send enemy warships to the bottom. Human opponents are smart enough to redirect crew to fire duty, so most of the time you'll have to keep firing on the ship and aiding the fire in causing damage to the ship's fuel tank in order to prompt the explosion.

Another point to aim for is the same area as the back, but in the front instead. The forward deck is where the ship's ammo magazine is, and artillery hits here will start a fire just as easily. A fire that starts here will ignite the ship's ammo magazine, prompting an identical explosion to that of destroying the ship's fuel tank. The explosion will sink the ship, but only in single player (see below).


Dear Lord, how do you evade that?!?

Torpedoes are difficult to use, but when they hit, they hurt. All ships, PT boats being the sole exception, have port and starboard-firing torpedo tubes. PT boats launch from the bow. Torpedoes have a huge range, but they are slow and near-misses don't count, so you have to be close.

Battle Tip
Always set all personnel to water repair duty as soon as the battle starts if you're a battleship. Torpedoes are your number one enemy.

Speed is of the essence when making a torpedo run - move in close and quickly, before the enemy can target you. A distraction is often a good idea, but be sure that this distraction can take punishment for a while. Although approaching from behind (since the enemy's camera looks in the direction the guns are facing, you can try to hit them from behind) this is not often possible. Torpedoing the enemy battleship is the best way of attacking the battleship in the campaign mission Rendezvous at the Java Sea.

Torpedoes are also best launched in a spread, which reduces the number of ways an enemy warship can manoeuvre. Human-made torpedo spreads tend to fire in pairs which, although devastating, means there are gaping holes in the fan which allow for warships to manoeuvre. The computer is the best at making torpedo fans. For a good demonstration of computer-made torpedo fans, play the mission Strike on the Monster.

Emergencies Onboard[edit]

The repair screen

You have a general idea now how to attack enemy warships, but now they're out to attack you. Accessing the repair screen and making the most of it is the difference between a novice and a veteran, so always make the most of the repair screen. Various elements of the repair screen are outlined below.

To the left is the ship status panel. It shows you where on your ship an emergency has occurred, as well as what kind of emergency it is. It does not, however, allow you to solve the problem; this is discussed later in the guide.

Parts of a Ship[edit]

Each ship in BSM, with the exceptions of PT boats and submarines, have several different target areas, including:

Although all ships look quite different, all the components are located in similar areas.
  • Underwater
  • Body
  • Fuel Tank
  • Ammunition Magazine
  • Rudder
  • Engine
  • Weapons

The right side is the front. Red is the general area where the fuel tanks (back) and ammo magazine (front) are located. The middle yellow component is the engine, and the yellow segment at the back is the rudder. Blue is the underwater segment, and the grey is the body. The green segments are the weapons.

All the sections, except the body, can be repaired. A ship will sink when either the underwater section of the ship is destroyed, or if (in single player only), the fuel or ammo sections are destroyed. This is to prevent expert players from "one-shotting" enemy ships. An exception to this is fighters equipped with bombers can detonate magazines or fuel tanks of destroyers.

The underwater section can be damaged either directly by torpedoes, or indirectly by shooting a destroyed section above it. The best tactic, therefore, is to aim for a single component on an enemy ship and keep shelling it repeatedly. Some sections, like the ammo and fuel, have fewer hit points than others. Therefore although you cannot destroy a ship by destroying its ammo or fuel, you can still cause damage much easier to the underwater section by first destroying the lightly-armoured section, then continuing to strike it for underwater damage.

Leaks slowly damage the underwater section in the same manner a fire slowly damages an ammo or fuel section.

The body cannot be repaired, but the destruction of a ship's bridge indicates that a ship's body section has been completely destroyed; therefore, any more shots to the body of a ship will cause a leak.

Therefore, it is best to keep all personnel on water repair duty at all times, since fire does not deal any damage at all in multiplayer.


Ship Emergencies[edit]

Newbie Mistakes
Despite common belief, leaks are more dangerous than fires. In fact, unless you're playing single player, fires have no effect on your ship whatsoever.

The arrow displays on the outside of the ship diagram shows you where your ship is leaking. A leak means your hull is pierced below the water line, and your ship is taking on water. Leaks are very bad news - your ship will slowly loses health as water rushes in. The severity of the leak is how many arrows are lit up - one arrow means it's pretty minor, whereas three arrows means a hole so large your ship is almost certainly going to go under.

The ship status panel. Note the various elements, which are explained below.

Starting at the top, the first diagram that appears is one of the two fire icons. A strike to any flammable section of the ship starts a fire. The fire icon will light up, and that section of the ship will slowly take damage and the fire icon will go from yellow, to red, and then to flashing red. Once the section of the ship has taken 100% damage (either from the fire or from an enemy attack) your ship's ammo magazine or fuel tank will explode, causing your ship to go under in single player mode. In multiplayer mode, this explosion does not deal any damage, but it does mean that any more hits to that section will cause an underwater leak.

The next icon that appears, with the gears, is the engine icon. A yellow icon means that the engine has taken damage, but it isn't enough to affect your ship. A red icon indicates the engine has taken heavy damage, but won't affect your ship much. When it is flashing red, extensive engine damage results in your ship stopping dead in the water.

The lowest icon is the steering icon. It is essentially the same as the engine icon, but it affects your steering instead. A yellow icon means that the rudder has taken damage, but it isn't enough to affect your ship. A red icon indicates the rudder has taken heavy damage, but won't affect your ship much. When it is flashing red, extensive engine damage results in your ship being unable to steer.

One panel that does not appear here, but will on aircraft carriers, is the flight deck icon. A yellow icon means that the flight deck has taken damage, but it isn't enough to affect your ship. A red icon indicates the flight deck has taken heavy damage, but won't affect your ship much. When it is flashing red, extensive engine damage results in your ship's elevators being unable to launch or land aircraft.

The final thing that can go wrong with your ship is damage to the weapons. Weapon damage is shown separately, and when you put your cursor over the weapons display you will see all the gun turrets of your ship as well as their status. When they are yellow or red, it means the weapon has taken light or heavy damage respectively. You can also look by visual inspection which guns are unable to fire. Assigning crew to repair the weapons will have your guns working again. (Even if they are massive cannons, the crew will seemingly pull out a new one and snap it on)

Leaks and Water[edit]

The flooding panel
Some ships, like destroyers, can pump out more water than others. This makes destroyers difficult to sink with torpedoes.

The flooding panel, shown right, displays how much water your ship has taken on. The blue section of the ship is the stuff that's underwater. Once it reaches the top, it means your ship is pretty much underwater, and your ship starts going down.

Water enters your ship through leaks. Assigning personnel to Water duty will have as much of the crew as possible to seal off watertight compartments in the ship. Once that's happened, they will then pump out as much water as possible. Unfortunately, the crew cannot pump out water from the compartments they have sealed. Sooner or later the crew will run out of compartments to seal, and your ship will sink. Fortunately for you, your crew can also pump water out to a degree. This results in your ship regaining the health it lost as a result of a leak.

Assigning Crew[edit]

Assign up to three repair teams for each type of emergency.

So, you've taken on damage, and now you must do something about it. As mentioned above, you can assign crew to fight the emergencies. Your crew is divided into three repair teams. You can assign up to three teams to work on each type of emergency - assigning crew to Water duty, for instance, will prompt them to focus their efforts on sealing leaks and pumping out water. By default, all three teams are at general quarters - meaning they will spread out repair duties evenly. Assigning them to fight a specific task will mean that task gets accomplished quicker, but other tasks slow down as a result.

  • General Quarters: Crew will repair damage evenly. General quarters is the unlabeled slot at the top.
  • Water: Assign crew to water repair duty. Crew will attempt to plug holes and pump out water. Assign as much crew as possible to this when confronting submarines and torpedo bombers. Leaks may also occur when a shell strikes your ship's belt armour.
  • Fire: Assign crew to fight fire. Crew will don fire extinguishers and do their best to stop a fire from raging out of control and engulfing your ship's ammo and fuel in particular. Almost any kind of attack can start a fire, but the most notable things are shells that hit the deck, as well as dive and carpet bombers.
  • Manoeuvre: Assign crew to repair the engine and rudders, keeping your ship's controls at optimum. Pretty much anything can cause an engine failure, but the most common things are naval shells, and dive and carpet bombers. Rudder issues are most often caused by rear torpedo hits.
  • Weapons: Assign crew to repair the weapons. Shells and dive bombers in particular can disable your weapons, but replacing them typically doesn't take long.
  • Flight Deck: (Not shown) Assign crew to repair the aircraft elevators. Dive bombers in particular enjoy hitting your flight deck, and when your anti-aircraft defences fail, it falls on your repair teams to give your bombers and fighters a place to land.


Not to be confused with squadrons, Formations are similar to "parties" from MMORPGs, only they consist of ships. Not to worry though, formations do not "level up" or gain special skills. Formations are just that - formations.

The formation editor. The cursor is dragging and dropping the gold ship into a suitable position relative to the lead ship, centre. The faded gold image is where the ship is now. The solid gold ship is where it will be.

To create a formation, go to the map screen and select a warship. Right click on another warship under your command. The former's status will set to "Follow" the latter. It will follow the movements of the first ship as much as possible, maintaining a position relative to the lead ship. Note that formation members are not shown on the tactical map at middle and outer zoom.

Newbie Mistakes
Unless you're at maximum zoom on the tactical map, only formation leaders are shown. Ships ordered to join a formation will disappear from the map - this is best viewed on middle zoom. Remember, ordering a ship to do something else when it's not the formation leader will break it from the formation. If you want to keep the formation, open the formation editor and make the most of it.

Having a ship leave formation involves either issuing a direct command - such as move or attack - to a following ship. An alternative is to open the command window and select the "Leave" option. If you are in direct command of the lead ship, the "Leave" changes to "Disband", which dissolves the entire formation.

Also with the formation leader you can select the "Formations" menu from the command menu. You'll be able to change the formation member's position relative to you. This allows you to make formations that assist you, hide your numbers, etc.

There are an infinite number of ways of arranging your ships into formation. Below is a small chart outlining a few of them. Note that the diagram refers to where the ships will be (the solid figures), not where they currently are (the faded figures). Additionally, the lead ship is the white ship. The gold ship is the ship selected by the cursor, and the blue ship is an unselected ship.

Formation Diagram Notes
Line Astern BSM FormationsLineAstern.PNG A solid offensive position, with all ships capable of firing powerful broadsides against the opposition. It leaves the front rather weak, however, since the two aft ships (blue and gold) cannot fire forwards over the lead ship (white).
Line Ahead BSM FormationsLineAhead.PNG Similar to the line astern formation, this is good when your lead ship outranges the following ships, allowing them all to start firing roughly the same time. It's also useful to keep your lead ship protected, with the front ships taking the brunt of enemy fire.
Line Abreast BSM FormationsLineAbreast.PNG Good for AA fire coverage and for threats approaching from the front. Definitely not good for broadsides though, with your lead ship and ship opposite to the enemy unable to fire.
V Formation BSM FormationsVForm.PNG Excellent for protection from submarines, especially from the front. The two side ships use their sonar to cover the lagging ship, and submarines are often too slow to catch up to your lead ship. When submarines come from the front, the escorts only have to move a minimum distance to attack them.
Inverted V BSM FormationsInvVForm.PNG A general all-around good formation. Allows your smaller ships to survive by focusing fire on the lead ship, thus allowing your smaller ships to possibly move in for torpedo assaults or other close-range attacks.
Echelon Port BSM FormationsEPort.PNG A good formation for attacking enemies to the left of your group, as it allows all ships to fire angled to the left. Also allows all ships to stay roughly the same distance away from the enemy.
Echelon Starboard BSM FormationsEStar.PNG The same as Echelon Port, but good for attacking targets to the right.

Standing Orders[edit]

Newbie Mistakes
Some players forget to allow their ships to use torpedoes. Unless you intend to make a torpedo run on the enemy, don't forget to turn this on! Ships rarely ever get the chance to run out of torpedoes. Be sure to especially enable it on PT boats, as otherwise they will not attack at all.

Warships have four options for Standing Orders. These dictate how the ship operates when you aren't in control of it. The four available terms are:

  • Free Fire: Toggle whether or not the ship's gunners will set and fire on their own targets. If this is turned off, you will have to manually set targets for the ship's gunners to fire on.
  • Free Move: Toggle whether or not the ship's AI will move the ship where it thinks it is best for engaging enemy warships.
  • Torpedo: Toggle whether or not the crew will employ torpedoes against enemy ships. Unless you intend to move close to the enemy and fire torpedoes manually, set this to on to have the computer use its un-dodgable torpedo fans (see above)
  • Torpedo Avoidance: Toggle whether or not the ship will do everything it can to avoid enemy torpedoes.

By default, the Free Move and Torpedo terms are set off, and the other two are set on. You can change these at any time by bringing up the command menu and selecting the Orders option. Hitting Enter will clear the screen and apply your changes.


A tack is an old manoeuvre which allows a sailing ship to sail into the wind by zigzagging into it on a diagonal; each turn is called a "tack".

While BSM's iron ships are not powered by sail, tacking is now in fact a powerful ship manoeuvre which allows a ship to fire broadsides while chasing an enemy ship head-on. By constantly zigzagging back and forth in the direction of an enemy, just in the same manner a sailing ship tacks into the wind, you not only make yourself a difficult target but you also make use of as many guns as possible.

Some ships - namely the Fuso and Kongo class - tack with more difficulty than others because the guns on the sides cannot be brought to bear unless the ship is moving sideways relative to the enemy. Ships with fewer turrets, in particular Yamato, can tack extremely well.