Geordi La Forge as a 18th century naval officer on the holodeck

In the nautical tradition of Earth, the various service organizations throughout the galaxy engage in the usage of nautical terms to apply traditional sea-going references to modern starship operations.

Sections of a shipEdit

External componentsEdit

  • Beam: the widest part of the ship or a point alongside the ship. (eg, Worf; "Probe is standing abeam" meaning the probe was steady alongside the Enterprise.)
  • Rudder: a part of a ocean-going ship that can be manipulated to change the way water flows around it, and thus the direction of the ship; in the 23rd century the USS Enterprise-A had a system that performed a similar course-changing function and was referred to as a "rudder". (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
  • Port (opening): an opening in a hull or bulkhead. Not to be confused with the left side of a vessel.

Internal facilities and crewEdit

  • Bay: a stowage facility for auxiliary vessels, consumables, or goods such as "shuttlebay" or "cargo bay".
  • Berth (personnel): refers to either crew'/passengers' quarters, or more specifically (with shared quarters) a person's bunk.
  • Bridge: the main command center of a ship where course is set and essential operations of the ship is monitored.
  • Brig: a secure area where prisoners are held.
  • Deck: a floor or level of a ship usually oriented horizontally; often used to describe the walking surface of floors within a ship or the outermost habitable section of a ship.
  • Engineering (or engine room): area that contains the ship's engines and power generators.
  • Hangar deck: an alternate term for small-craft storage and launch/landing area also called a "shuttlebay".
  • Head: the bathroom facilities on board a ship.
  • Quarters: sleeping area(s) for the crew.
  • Sickbay: The ship's hospital; called an infirmary on planet- or base-side facilities.

Key personnel on a ship Edit

The crew generally made up the collective group of personnel who were individuals collectively serving together aboard a ship. Crewmembers generally consisted of officers and crewmen.

  • Boatswain or Bosun: a member of a crew who is responsible for mooring, berthing and gangways and decorating them accordingly upon visitation of a high-ranking official or VIP; he/she is also responsible for a formal greeting upon such an arrival by which the crewman will blow a specialized whistle in a stylized manner.
  • Captain: typically, a ship's commanding officer responsible for overseeing the overall operation of ship and crew; officers below the military rank of captain are nevertheless still addressed as "captain" when commanding a ship. (TNG: "Redemption II"; DS9: "Favor the Bold")
  • Chief engineer: crewperson responsible for the physical components and operational systems of a ship including and especially that of propulsion.
  • Chief medical officer (also called ship's doctor, "CMO" or Ship's Surgeon): crewperson responsible for the health and physical well-being of the crew.
  • Chief science officer: an officer directly responsible for the scientific research conducted aboard a ship.
  • Dock master: an officer directly responsible for managing the comings and goings of vessels in his/her assigned berth.
  • Conn: the line officer who is in command of the bridge; "conn" may also refer to the helmsman and the actual helm itself.
  • First officer: the officer who is second in command of a ship directly beneath the captain; often referred to as "number one", "executive officer", or simply "exec" or "XO". The first officer is responsible for ensuring the captain's orders are carried out to his/her specifications and could be considered the chief pilot of a vessel as navigation orders generally are relayed through the first officer.
  • Helmsman (also occasionally flight controller or quartermaster): crewmember who is in direct control of a vessel's course and speed, and making adjustments as directed by the duty conn officer or captain.
  • Second officer: third in command of a ship beneath the first officer and the captain.
  • Steward: a manager of goods and functions aboard a ship.
  • Yeoman: an assistant to senior officers; the position of yeoman seems to have been phased out sometime between 2293 and 2371.

Direction, locations, and navigation Edit

Haakona, port

Port side view of a Romulan D'deridex-class warbird

Dorsal shield failure

Display graphic, highlighting the dorsal side of the Enterprise-E

Ventral shield failure

Display graphic, highlighting the ventral side of the Enterprise-E

  • Alongside: to be "alongside" another ship is to be positioned next to it (typically "abeam") and moving in the same direction and speed; to order a helmsman to "bring us alongside" is to order him to assume this position regarding another vessel.
  • Bearing: the direction of an object in relation to the ship's heading; the ship's direction is automatically assumed to be zero and the vector of the other ship's angle is calculated in two 360° arcs that describe the object's position along the horizontal and vertical planes of a vessel. The position is described using the horizontal angle in degrees, followed by that of the vertical plane; both measurements being separated by the word 'mark.' (TNG: "Datalore")
  • Closing: the act of approaching a particular place or object, typically another ship.
  • Come about: an order to change course to that given after the order.
  • Collision course: one designed to make the ship assuming the course collide with a particular target, often another ship.
  • Conic intersection flight path: a course designed to bring one ship close to another in a way that is not intended to appear threatening to the other vessel; such a course was used by the USS Enterprise to approach V'Ger in 2271. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
  • Docking maneuvers: maneuvers that allow a ship to to physically link up with another other body (typically at airlocks), or to allow a ship to be brought into its slip in a dock, or to bring a small craft into its bay.
  • En route: refers to a vessel proceeding on course to a destination.
  • Evasive course or maneuver: one designed to allow the ship to either miss or be missed by another object.
Evasive maneuvers are either given as course changes or as a set of changes called a "pattern". The Starfleet "Pattern Delta" is a maneuver that involved rocking a starship hard, from port to starboard, to shake pursuing starships. (DS9: "Shattered Mirror")
  • The use of hard prefacing a direction change, as in "hard to [port/starboard]", indicated to the helmsman that the maneuver was to be made as rapidly and severely as the ship was capable of doing.
  • Heading: the direction of the ship in relation to the center of the galaxy broken down into a 360° arc on the X axis (yaw); another 360° arc is the direction separated by saying "mark" which is the Y axis (pitch). For example, if a commander of a starship wanted a heading of 180 mark 0, he'd want to turn the ship to the southernmost section of the galaxy while keeping the Y axis of the ship parallel to the plane of the galaxy.
Sometimes a crewman reports the bearing of a ship or object or the heading of the ship with inconsistent numbers, like "heading 12 mark 820", which is an overlooked error by the writers of the show.

Graphical representation of Pitch, Roll and Yaw

  • Pitch: The orientation of a ship's bow and aft ends respectively (up and down).
  • Roll: The orientation of the ventral and dorsal sides of the ship respectively.
  • Yaw: The orientation of the port and starboard sides of the ship respectively (side to side).
  • Intercept course: a course designed to directly and quickly approach another ship.
  • Rendezvous: to meet another vessel at a pre-determined place and time.
  • To set a course is to either (as an order) command the ship to be turned to that course, or (as an action) to actually turn the ship to the prescribed course.
  • Station-keeping: refers to a starship or other spacecraft maintaining a constant position in space relative to another object; this is typically performed using maneuvering thrusters. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")
  • Stem: forward-most part of a vessel. (VOY: "Hope and Fear")
  • Port (location): a location where personnel and goods can be transferred to and from a ship while not under way; frequently, construction and repair facilities can be found in these type of ports; also known as a "base" or "yard".
  • Berth (location): a place in a port where a ship may be secured. May also be known as a "dock" or a "slip".
  • Drydock: a specific type of dock where ships may be repaired or constructed.
  • Maiden voyage: a ship's first expedition

Functions of a ship and crew Edit

  • Battle stations: ship's crew report to their assigned combat duty stations; can also refer to the location where a particular crewman reports for combat duty.
  • Captain: the standing commanding officer of a ship regardless of officer's actual rank.
  • Damage control: the act or task of performing emergency repairs to parts of a ship damaged by combat or accident.
  • Dock: to place the ship into a facility for repair, service or rest.
  • Flank speed: the fastest speed a ship is capable of, pushing its engines to their maximum output.
  • General quarters: a state of alert aboard ship.
  • Hail: to call, invite, or beckon.
  • Hand: a crewmember; an able-bodied individual capable of tending to ship's services or operation.
  • Keelhauling: a severe form of corporal punishment meted out to sailors at sea, with the offending sailor tied to a rope that looped beneath the vessel, thrown overboard on one side of the ship, and dragged under the ship's keel to the other side. As the hull was often covered in barnacles and other marine growth, this could result in lacerations and other injuries, and possibly even death. When debating accommodations for visiting Federation dignitaries to Deep Space 9, Worf brought up the naval tradition of giving ship commanders equal quarters as admirals. Constable Odo replied that keelhauling, too, was a naval tradition. (DS9: "Rapture")
  • Leave: an approved absence from duty usually for rest and relaxation or convalescence.
  • Moor: to attach the ship to a bulkhead to prevent drifting.
  • Ramming speed: the fastest speed a ship can attain while still retaining sufficient maneuverability to remain on a collision course with a target.
  • Ready: to prepare something for immediate potential use.
  • Secure: to check to see that something is properly "stowed" or otherwise in its proper place or condition. (Example: to "secure" a door/hatch would be to ensure that it is properly closed and/or locked; to "secure" a room would be to see to it that everything within was properly stowed, or alternately that it was properly locked up.)
  • Stand by: to prepare an individual or item for potential use.
  • Stow: to place goods or belongings in their appropriate storage areas.
  • Watch: a duty shift.
  • Under way: the condition of a ship moving under its own power.

Miscellaneous Edit

  • Adrift: Floating freely in space, possibly damaged, with no pilot in control at the helm.
  • Irons: metallic bands and chains used to secure prisoners. Captain Kirk threatened Mr. Baris that he would "hold [him] in irons" if he didn't shut up. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles") A fictitious version of Captain Sisko in a holodeck scenario argued to Luther Sloan that his officer needn't be dragged through public places in irons. (DS9: "Inquisition")
  • Landlubber: someone unfamiliar with the sea. Used by Gillian Taylor to describe Kirk when she heard that the alleged admiral was from Iowa. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
  • List: When a vessel begins to roll or lean too much to one side, which may lead to a ship capsizing. Captain Pavel Chekov noted that the Klingon Empire's flagship, Kronos One, was listing after it was struck by a photon torpedo that appeared to have been fired from the USS Enterprise-A. Upon viewing the scene, Captain Kirk added that "she's spinning out of control." (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
  • Port of call: a port where a ship stopped. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection")
  • Shakedown cruise: an operation during which a new starship tests its systems.
  • Shore: dry land; as used on spacefaring vessels, it usually refers to planets or spacedocks.
  • Shore leave: time away from duty, usually on a base or planet.
  • Stores: The sundry consumable supplies that a vessel keeps in storage for its everyday operation. Ship's store items often include replacement uniforms, spare machine parts, and other goods that must be kept on-hand to ensure the continued function of a ship and its crew.

"Abandon ship" Edit

"Abandon ship" was an order for all hands to evacuate via transporters or emergency escape pods due to an imminent catastrophic event which threatens to destroy the ship. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; TNG: "11001001", et al; DS9: "Emissary", et al; VOY: "Projections", et al; Star Trek)

"Aye-aye, aye" Edit

An acknowledgment of an order. One "aye" for the acknowledgment. (ENT: "Terra Nova", "The Andorian Incident", "Breaking the Ice", "Fortunate Son", "The Catwalk") Two "aye"s for acknowledgment and carrying out of order. Commander Riker believed that only one "aye" was sufficient for both. (TNG: "Lower Decks")

In formal usage, a single "aye" would be preceded by a cite-back of the just given order to confirm comprehension, as in "standard orbit, aye sir." such as in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

"Shipshape and Bristol fashion" Edit

Term meaning "everything in perfect order". Captain Jean-Luc Picard used the term to describe Lieutenant Geordi La Forge's model of the original HMS Victory. (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data")

"Steady as we/she go(es)" Edit

A request by a commander of a vessel to maintain course and speed without deviation. (TAS: "Beyond the Farthest Star"; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

"Walk the plank" Edit

Enterprise, sailing brig, 2371

Worf on the plank

When pirates captured a ship at sea, it is believed that they sometimes forced its sailors to walk overboard to their deaths from a wide board known as a plank. This routine became known as to "walk the plank".

In 2371, the crew of the USS Enterprise-D jokingly upheld this ancient sailing tradition when they celebrated Worf's promotion to Lieutenant Commander. (Star Trek Generations)

Following an episode of conspiracy and distrust that occurred aboard USS Voyager in 2376, Captain Kathryn Janeway and First officer Chakotay discussed the latest rumors circulating aboard Voyager. While discussing trust between the two, Janeway jokingly claimed that she "heard the strangest rumor today. Apparently, the Captain and First officer almost came to blows." Chakotay questioned if it was mutiny, and Janeway replied that the "first Officer walked the plank," or at least, so she heard. (VOY: "The Voyager Conspiracy")

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