a strictly defined deployment of ships relative to one another when the ships are under steam or engaged in combat maneuvers. Naval formations may be classified as simple, in which the ships are arranged in a single straight line, or complex, in which the ships are formed in several lines, a single broken line, or several circles.
Simple formations include the line ahead, in which each ship follows in the wake of the ship ahead; line of bearing, in which the ships are deployed along a line running at a definite angle to the course of the lead ship; echelon formation, in which each ship follows to the right or left of the wake of the ship ahead; and line abreast, in which the ships are deployed in a line perpendicular to the course.
Complex formations consist of two or several simple formations. In a complex formation, both the distance between ships in a line ahead and the distance between lines are specified. The following are the most frequently used complex formations: a formation of two parallel lines ahead with the ships in the second line even with the corresponding ships in the first line or arranged opposite the midpoint of the intervals between ships of the first line (as in a checkerboard pattern); a double line abreast, in which the ships are deployed in two parallel lines abreast with the corresponding ships of the second line steaming in the wake of the ships of the first line or opposite the midpoints of the intervals between the ships of the first line; and a wedge formation, in which the ships are deployed along the sides of an angle at the apex of which is the lead ship.
In addition to complex formations based on rectangular coordinates, high-speed naval units also use circular cruise formations, based on concentric circles around a center that moves along a fixed course. The concentric circles are at identical distances from one another and are assigned ordinal numbers beginning from the center of the formation. The position of each ship in the formation is determined by the number of the circle (the distance from the center of the formation) and the bearing from the center.
N. P. V’IUNENKO