HCO Officer Simming Guide

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The HCO Officer is an abbreviation for Helm/Comm/Ops, and is one of the most important members of a ship. The HCO officer, as the name suggests, will be trained in three fields of operation: Helm (which is flying the ship), Comm (which is communications), and Ops (which is Operations). You only have to look at the characters in the shows to realize just how important the HCO officers are. You can follow such great examples as, Hikaru Sulu and Uhura from the original series, Wesley Crusher, Data and Lieutenant Hawk from the TNG series and movies, Tom Paris and Harry Kim from Voyager, O'Brien, Jadzia Dax and Nog while on the USS Defiant from DS9, and let us not forget Travis Mayweather and Hoshi Sato from Enterprise.

All the HCO stations are on the bridge of each of your ships, however, your character may be called away help out in engineering or fly a shuttle or something else, so do not get complacent. But while on the bridge he or she is a bridge officer and depending on their rank may be called into service as the First or Second officer depending on what the situation is. The HCO officer will have qualifications for all three fields of service. Whether like my character a Major in Helm/Navigation, a Minor in Communication and basic understanding of Operations or your character can have them completely the other way round it is up to you depending on the station you wish your character to be at the most.


While at the Helm your character while be the pilot of the ship, it will be his or her job to take the ship in and out of warp, position the ship and make an attack run on an enemy target, and will in essence be the driver/pilot of the ship. As the Helm officer you will need to work closely with other departments on the bridge like Tactical. For example if your ship is going up a against a Romulan Warbird you will need to get the ship in a good enough position so that the Tactical officer can bring the ship's guns to bear. Because of this it is important to have some sort of a relationship with the other officers on the bridge, not necessarily the good ones (remember the most interesting simmers make enemies as well as friends). Also remember that not everything runs perfectly on a ship. So if a torpedo hits your ship, how has it effecting the handling of the ship? Is it a bit sluggish? Have you lost power to the port impulse engine and can't turn as fast? My point is that every action has a reaction and should affect your sim.

Duties of the Flight Controller

By: Lt. Michael Soul
The helmsman (or flight controller, Conn for short) is a bridge officer broadly responsible for all flight and navigation operations of the starship. In particular, these are: navigational references and course plotting.

Conn is responsible for getting the ship to her destination in the most safe and efficient manner possible. The Flight Controller's console displays readings from navigational and tactical sensors, overlaying them on current positional and course projections. Conn has the option of accessing data feeds from secondary navigation and science sensors for verification of primary sensor data. Such cross-checks are automatically performed at each change-of-shift and upon activation of Alert status.

Supervision of Automatic Flight Operations

The ship's computer performs much of the workload for the helmsman. However, computers can make mistakes and it is the responsibility of Conn to detect and correct such errors, reporting them to the appropriate departments (Ops, Engineering and, in extreme cases, the Commanding Officer) if they are serious enough.

Manual Flight Operations

The actual execution of flight instructions is generally left to computer control, but Conn has the option of exercising manual control over helm and navigational functions. In full manual mode, Conn can actually steer the ship under keypad control. Care should be taken to keep all manoeuvres within the flight envelope so as not to subject the crew or spacecraft to unnecessary stress unless in an Alert situation.

Position Verification

The ship's main computers make use of primary and secondary navigational sensors to continuously update a record of the spacecraft's location. This is accurate to within 10km at impulse speeds and 100km during warp flight.

During very slow sublight maneuvers, e.g. docking operations, accuracies of the order of centimetres can be achieved. Conn is expected to take account of these data at all times, relay the information to concerned parties and report any discrepancies.

Bridge Liaison to the Engineering Department

During most routine Cruise Mode operations it is likely that the bridge Engineering station will be unmanned. In such situations Conn is the primary bridge liaison to Engineering. (S)he is responsible for monitoring propulsion system status and providing system status reports to the Commanding Officer.

Principles of Spaceflight

Impulse Flight

Impulse Drive is a spacecraft propulsion system using conventional Newtonian reaction to generate thrust. A ship under impulse drive is limited to slower-than-light speeds. Normally, full impulse speed is 0.25c: one quarter of the speed of light. Although this is adequate for most interplanetary travel it is inadequate for travel between the stars. Faster-than-light velocities, necessary for interstellar flight, generally require the use of warp drive.

The impulse drive uses cryogenic slush deuterium as fuel. The slush is further cooled and formed into pellets, which are fired into a fusion reactor to generate high-energy plasma. This is directed from the impulse reaction chamber into an accelerator/generator. If the impulse drive is active the plasma is accelerated and passed to the space-time driver coils; otherwise the plasma energy is diverted to the ship's power distribution net. The driver coil assembly produces a low-level subspace field effect lowering the apparent mass of the spacecraft: this is particularly important for very large starship classes, but is often omitted as unnecessary on smaller ones. Finally, the exhaust is passed to a vectored thrust director which expels the exhaust in a controlled manner to generate the actual thrust and steerage.

While the spacecraft is under impulse power Conn is responsible for monitoring the inertial dampening system. In the event a specified maneuver exceeds the capacity of the inertial dampening system, the computer will request that Conn modify the flight plan to bring it within the permitted performance envelope. During Alert status, however, flight rules permit Conn to specify maneuvers that are potentially dangerous to the ship and/or her crew.

Warp Flight

Warp drive is the primary faster-than-light propulsion system. It employs the controlled annihilation of matter and antimatter, regulated by dilithium crystals, to generate the tremendous power required. The human race developed warp drive in 2063. Earth's first warp flight took place on April 4, 2063; the warp ship Phoenix took off from Resurrection, Montana, under the command of her designer, Dr. Zephram Cochrane, thereby triggering humanity's first contact with the interstellar community. The warp drive uses supercooled slush deuterium and antideuterium as fuel.

Since antimatter annihilates normal matter on contact, great care is taken to store the antimatter within magnetic containment fields. Two streams of reactants, one deuterium and one antideuterium, are fired down a cylindrical apparatus known as the Matter/Antimatter Reaction Assembly (M/ARA), or warp core. These streams meet at a precisely calculated point on a dilithium crystal. Dilithium has the special property that it can mediate matter/antimatter reactions without itself being destroyed. A tuned stream of high-energy plasma is produced. This is passed along the power transfer conduits to the warp nacelles. Here the plasma stream is passed through a series of warp coils, which generate a subspace field known as the warp field. This field lowers the apparent mass of the spacecraft, allowing faster-than-light travel. The propulsive effect is provided by the oscillating, peristaltic nature of the field generated.

When a starship is under warp propulsion, Conn is responsible for monitoring the subspace field geometry with help from Engineering. The Conn station is continuously updated with data coming in from the long range sensors and will automatically make course corrections to adjust for any minor variations in the density of subspace. It is part of Conn's responsibility to supervise this automatic process.

For technical reasons stemming from engine efficiencies and some very involved subspace physics it is more convenient to measure warp speeds in terms of warp factors than multiples of the speed of light, c=3*108ms-1.

Eugene's law states that there is a warp velocity that cannot be reached and which corresponds to 'infinite speed'; by convention this is placed at warp 10, although the increasing frequency of operations in the warp 9.99+ region may soon necessitate a recalibration to place Eugene's limit at warp factor 15 or 20.

Advanced Drive Systems

There are several drive systems capable of much greater speeds than conventional warp drive, such as the Borg transwarp drive and the quantum slipstream drive. The operational speeds of these drives are of the order of Warp 9.9999. Some Starfleet vessels are equipped with such drives, but all are considered highly experimental. Lt. Tom Paris was the first to brake the Warp 10 barrier when he achieves transwarp in the shuttlecraft Cochrane, However this flight produced dangerous and was not considered a success.

After the flight, Paris has elevated serotonin levels in the hypothalamus and his cells start mutating.


While at the Communication Station your character will quite literally be the eyes and ears of the ship. It can be a very exciting job for a good simmer because there is so many things that your character can do and almost everything you do will affect the plot. For example, your character may receive a distress call from some colony on a world that has been attacked by the Borg, you may be coordinating attacks with friendly FA-150s against a rogue Klingon Battle cruiser. Also it is not just on the ship where your character you will be important, you may be on an away mission and need to set up a portable communications device so that your team can contact the local Starbase to come pick you up because you are under fire by unknown forces. There is a whole load of other things your character can de to change the plot but if you a going to put a major spanner in the works and change the plot dramatically it is a good idea to ask the captain first, after all it is their ship and their mission.


One of the most important positions on any ship. The Operations Officer is responsible for a lot of management tasks. He, or of course she, controls schedules like whose turn it is to visit the Holodeck, or what shuttle the away-team will use. Together with the First officer, the Operations Chief or HCO Chief is responsible for the crew rosters.

Power management, transporters, supply management, cargo bay control and sensor schedules all fall under the wing of Operations. Besides these basic ship management tasks, the Operations Officer also functions as a "traffic agent" so to speak between departments. Regulating resources, time, and such between various departments. In example, Science and Tactical both want to use your ship's primary sensor array. The ops officer will decide who gets how much time at which department and system.

In case an away-team is away from the ship, the Ops Officer keeps an eye on them and coordinates with the Away-Team's CO and the ship's CO. As you can see, being an operations officer has a wide variety of tasks, responsibilities and possibilities. As Helm/Comm.Ops officer you hold a great position on the ship, with a lot of possible things to do while simming and a great position to introduce a plot twist or two.

As you advance up the ranks you may have the chance to specialise in just one of the fields by becoming the Chief of Operations, Chief Helm Officer, Communication Specialist or even the Chief HCO Officer. As the Chief of one or all of these departments your job will be to help the HCO officers under your command and work closely with the other Chiefs of each department because you will be on the senior staff.

Mission Specialist Helm/Com/Ops Engineer Science Officer Medical Officer Nurse
Intelligence Officer Security Officer Tactical Officer Marine Counselor Civilian
Duty Posts