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The Operations center of Deep Space 9

The engineering stations in ops

The command table and the "pit"

"And this is Ops..."
"The heart and soul of Deep Space 9.
– Julian Bashir and Vadosia, 2369 ("The Forsaken")

An operations center (also known as Ops) was the command and control facility of a space station or outpost. (DS9: "Civil Defense", "Meridian") It was the equivalent of the bridge of a starship.

Cardassian design

On Cardassian stations such as Deep Space 9/Terok Nor, the command center was a circular area located at the top of the main structure, with overhead windows giving a view of the stars and ships docked at the upper docking pylons. It contained, among other things, the commander's office, a turbolift, a transporter, and a viewscreen. The design was such that all present were required look up to the commander's office and also isolated the commander to a degree; rather than a captain's chair, the station commander's "seat of power" was in what would otherwise be a ready room. (DS9: "Emissary")

The centralized nature of the operations center also meant that, unlike most starships, in which primary controls were accessible from main engineering if desired, the operations center was the only location with such access. This made it a prime target for hostile forces, particularly in the case of Terok Nor, as the risk of a Bajoran revolt was significant. In order to minimize such risks, Ops could be sealed off from the rest of the station if necessary. (DS9: "Civil Defense")

Many functions that would have otherwise been performed in main engineering could be performed in the "pit", located directly below the viewscreen. Among other things, this allowed the commander to keep from showing signs of weakness, because crucial tasks could be performed out of sight during hails.

Ops also had a replicator. (DS9: "Babel", "Second Sight", "Civil Defense")

From left to right: turbolift, transporter, window, commanding officer's office

Other designs

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Other starbases and space stations had operations centers as well, such as Empok Nor and the Tevak shipyards. (DS9: "Empok Nor", "Tacking Into the Wind")

In 2364, the senior staff of the USS Enterprise-D evacuated to the operations center of Starbase 74 after what appeared to be a failure of the ship's antimatter magnetic containment field. From ops, the Enterprise crew continued to monitor the ship's autopiloted flight away from the starbase, as well as later attempting to locate and contact the ship when it became apparent that it had been stolen by the Bynars. (TNG: "11001001")

In 3189, an ensign stationed at Federation Headquarters was ordered to report to the secondary operations center in this space station. (DIS: "Unification III")

Background information

Early Ops concept art 1

Early Ops concept art 2

  • The operations center of Deep Space 9 was built on Paramount Stage 4.
  • The oval-shaped windows in Ops were occasionally seen on screen, but their placement was odd in that one would have to crane one's neck to look directly at them. Herman Zimmerman originally wanted to have a moving starfield in the windows but later realized it was unnecessary. On most occasions, the windows on the set were used for lighting, camera positioning, etc.
  • Oddly, the turbolift in DS9's Ops was not fully enclosed as one might imagine; while all decks had outer turbolift doors that protected people from falling into the turboshaft, the cab featured no inner doors, exposing the turboshaft to the passengers like in an old-fashioned elevator. This is seen in DS9: "The Forsaken": just before Lwaxana Troi and Odo get stuck in turbolift 7 on their way to upper pylon 3, the exposed inside of the turboshaft can be seen pass by, including deck level doors and conduits. DS9's Ops however did not feature an outer shaft door like other levels did, as the cab came right out of the floor. It seems like the turboshaft on Ops sealed itself by leaving (a part of) the cab's ceiling on Ops floor level, but as scenes usually cut right at the moment where the cab disappeared or entered, it is hard to say what really happened. Further, the turbolift moved at very low speeds while entering or exiting ops, as opposed to higher speeds when inside the shaft.