The bridge is the starship equivalent of an operations center or command center. On Starfleet ships, it is generally located near the top and front of a vessel. From here, the commanding officers supervise all ship's operations, ranging from vessel course control to tactical systems.
|MAIN BRIDGE||MAIN BRIDGE CONSOLES|
- Commanding Officer
- Executive Officer
- Chief Medical Officer/Counsellor/Advisor
- Flight Operations
- Tactical Operations
- Mission Operations
- Engineering and MSD
- Auxiliary Medical and Science
- Auxiliary Mission Operations
- Holographic Communications Projector
- Ready Room
- Turbolift 1
- Observation Lounge
- Turbolift 2
On Starfleet vessels, the bridge was usually located on Deck 1, on top of the vessel's primary hull. The bridge was the nerve-center of every starship, and it was manned by the top officers of each department except for Engineering and Medical. There was typically an engineering station that the Chief Engineer could use when on the bridge, as well as science stations that the science officer or chief medical officer could use.
The commanding officer could supervise all the ship's operations while seated in the command chair, typically located in the center of the room, while having visual access to all major personnel stations and viewscreens, facilitating the decision-making process. By the mid-24th century, the standard was that a first officer was assigned to assist a ship's captain in this process.
The forward bulkhead of the bridge was typically dominated by the main viewscreen. Directly in front of this was usually the helm console, from where navigation and vessel course control were carried out.
Many of the supportive stations that were present on 23rd century bridges were combined into one post by the 24th century; mainly that of the operations officer. Some bridges feature an operations console alongside the helm station, from where the officer on duty had access to internal systems control, communications, sensors, resource scheduling and hardware and system usage. Each bridge typically featured several supportive consoles for engineering, gravity control, damage control, environmental engineering, sciences and library computer, most of which did not necessarily need to be manned under normal circumstances. Internal security along with weapons control could be found at the Security station
Most bridges on Starfleet vessels were replaceable modules, so that adaptation for special missions or upgrading was expedited.
The bridge command stations provided seating and information displays for the commanding officer and one or two other officers, typically including the first officer. The command chairs were located in the center of the bridge, to maximize interaction with all key bridge personnel, while permitting an unobstructed view of the main viewscreen. Typically, the armrests of the captain's chair featured miniaturized status displays. Using keyboard or vocal commands, the captain could use these controls to override the basic operation of the starship.
The 24th century Flight Control position, also referred to as Conn, evolved from the 23rd century helm and navigation positions. The officer manning the Flight Control console was responsible for the actual piloting and navigation of the starship. Despite many of these functions being heavily automated, their critical nature demanded a humanoid officer to oversee these operations at all times. During spaceflight at impulse, Conn was responsible for monitoring relativistic effects as well the inertial damping system status. When traveling at warp speed, Conn was required to monitor the subspace field geometry in parallel with the engineering department. During warp flight, the Conn console continually updated long-range sensor data and makes automatic course corrections to adjust for minor variations in the density of the interstellar medium. On the Solaria, the Conn is located directly in front of the command area and between them and the view screen.
Many shipboard operations involved scheduling resources or hardware that affect a number of departments. In many such cases, it was common for various operations to present conflicting requirements. It was the responsibility of the operations officer to coordinate such activities so that mission goals were not jeopardized. The operations position, also known simply as Ops, evolved from older 23rd century positions. The bulk of the duties held by the helm and navigation positions were combined into the Conn position. Other functions of the helm panel, such as internal systems control, became the purview of Ops, as well as some communications and sensor system usages. The Ops panel presented the operations officer with a continually updated list of current major shipboard activities. This list permits Ops to set priorities and allocate resources among current operations. This is especially critical in cases where two or more requests require the use of the same equipment, entail mutually exclusive mission profiles, or involve some unusual safety or tactical considerations.
The bridge station dedicated to defensive systems control and starship internal security is Tactical Operations. Parts of the default control layout presents the security officer with information readouts dealing with the internal protection of the starship and its crew. A wide variety of starship defensive systems are available to the chief tactical operations officer (sometimes doubling as chief of security), ranging from the defensive shields to phaser and torpedo systems, as well as intrusion detection systems. Other systems that may be commanded by Tactical include communications, long- and short-range sensor arrays, sensor probes, message buoys, and tractor beam devices.
Every Starfleet bridge also includes several supportive consoles and backup stations. These may include consoles for Planetary sciences, Engineering, Mission Ops and Environmental Control. Most of these are meant to relieve the senior bridge officers of secondary duties during alert and crisis situations. Mission Ops provides additional support to the operations officer, and is specifically responsible for monitoring activity relating to secondary missions. Mission Ops is responsible for assignment of resources and priorities according to guidelines specified by the operations officer and by operating protocols. This station is also responsible for monitoring away teams. The Environmental Control console provides similar relief to the operations officer, monitoring the starship's life support systems. Due to the highly automated nature of these systems, this console would be unattended under normal circumstances, but becomes of crucial importance during alert situations to maximize crew survivability. The bridge on the Solaria has a range of auxiliary stations for these many purposes and all are located along the aft bulkhead of the bridge, either side of the Master Systems Display (MSD).
The bridge's Engineering station duplicates in simplified form the Chief Engineer's primary status displays from Main Engineering. The purpose of this station is to permit the Chief Engineer to maintain supervision over the engineering system while on the bridge. The Engineer also has access to the MSD on the aft bulkhead of the bridge. On Federation starships and space stations, the master systems display (abbreviated MSD), also known as the master situation monitor, or master situational display, was a large, wall-mounted computer display, sometimes in engineering or the bridge. The display usually featured a large cutaway diagram of the vessel, and was used to provide a detailed overview of the ship's operational status.
The battle bridge on starships was primarily designed for the control of the stardrive sections when in scenarios and situations where Saucer Separation was required. The battle bridge duplicates the strategic functions of the main bridge, with command, conn, ops, and tactical stations oriented toward a main viewscreen; however, it lacked dedicated science and engineering stations, instead having a series of configurable consoles for various usage. Unlike on the main bridge, there are no seats at these stations. The general decor and layout mimics the main bridge so that when in use in a crisis, those operating the battle bridge know exactly where to find everything.