- IT also called a Transponder System, Transponder Unit, or simply a Transponder.
- It is a kind of Ship Equipment.
The transponder maintains a constant transmission of the ship's identity. The transponder signal is broadcast radio, which can be detected by other ship's radio communicators and onboard sensors. The transponder is mounted in an inaccessible location within the hull.
- A transponder is an Active device.
The transponder consists of a number of components:
- Casing. A transponder unit is made from toughened or superdense materials: it is extremely resistant to damage.
- Flight Recorders. The recorders simply record a log of all vessel communications and internal systems activity. The ship's main computer collects this information and provides it to the recorders.
- It is directly linked to the vessel's Communications Equipment.
- Onboard Radio. An onboard radio transmitter that broadcasts the vessel's ID.
- Power Supply. The transponder contains an efficient internal battery pack that provides power for the Radio Transmitter and onboard electronics.
- The transponder is controlled from the bridge.
Computer Control Standards
Computer Controls: In almost all cases where the ship's computer can control a given ship function (gravity, doors, etc.), orders fed in at the central bridge computer take precedence over those fed in at local controls. Only if the computer is inoperative will a computer override be ineffective. Some ships have been known to be built with a different system set-up, but this arrangement is commonplace on most vessels within Charted Space. 
A transponder case is sealed at the factory, and the only way to legally change its signal is to have a licensed technician using specialized tools adjust it. The ship's ID cannot be altered or changed without the consent of the proper authorities.
The data collection process and the link between the ship's computer and the flight recorder is via a hardware unit. It is difficult to access physically and cannot be programatically accessed from the onboard computer systems at all.
Under normal circumstances, a vessel is required to operate with a transponder broadcasting. A vessel (especially a civilian one) must have a very good reason for turning it off, and doing so without due cause is illegal and could result in the impounding of the offending vessel. However, this makes the transmitting vessel very easy to detect.
- It is considered acceptable to shut down a transponder within an officially recognized conflict zone or in areas experiencing pirate activity.
- Most military forces are instructed to "shoot first, ask questions later" if they encounter an unidentified vessel that has no transponder signal.
References & Contributors (Sources)
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