Ship large-power steam boiler may serve as an example of complex critical technical system. A basis for rational control of operation of such system is knowledge on its capability of fulfilling the tasks to which it was intended. In order to make it possible to apply computer aiding to operational decision-making the capability should be described analytically. In this paper it was proposed to express the capability of ship steam boiler ( considered a complex system) to perform service tasks, by calculating components of its usability potential in a given instant t. To this end , was distinguished a set of steam boiler fundamental features which formulate space of its technical states. Values and characteristic intervals of the features were defined and this way sub-spaces of serviceability and non-serviceability states of the object in question were determined. Next, in the considered space, technical state of the boiler and its usability potential was determined. Owing to this it become possible to quantitatively express the steam boiler functioning capability which served as a basis for elaborating an algorithm for controlling the operational processes of a complex technical system under action. In this paper is also described a way of application of the presented method to calculation of ship steam boiler usability potential, which may be especially instrumental in the case of operational control of the boilers of the kind , equipped with interstage reheaters, i.e. those operating with high values of operational parameters.