Operating Modes and Procedures
Though most Starfleet facilities carry out their duties without difficulty, Starfleet regulations detail a variety of operating modes for dealing with special situations, as well as the procedures to follow in each. Normal flight and mission operations of a starship are conducted in accordance with a variety of operating rules, determined my the current operating mode of the vehicle. These operating modes are specified by the Commanding Officer, although in certain cases the computer can initiate Alert status upon detection of a potentially critical situation.
Approximately 95 percent of any voyage is spent in Cruise Mode, often referred to as Condition Green, and crew members think of this as the standard operating procedure. The crew works in three shifts, but only a minimal number of the crew have to be at operating stations at any one time. On a ship the size of a Galaxy-class vessel, only a Commanding Officer, Flight Control Officer, Operations Manager and one other officer have to man the bridge during this time, and other crew members generally carry out research projects, training or recreation. A Starbase's equivalent of Cruise Mode is often just called Operational Mode . Smaller ships might have even fewer crew members on the bridge while operating in Cruise Mode.
A number of procedures are automatic in cruise mode, and one can generally assume that these are in effect. The navigational deflector shields remain up at all times. Forty percent of the phaser banks and one photon torpedo launcher (if a ship has these weapons) stay at cold standby status, ready for power-up in two minutes. One shuttle can launch within five minutes. A Level 4 automatic diagnostic series must be run on all primary and tactical systems at the start of each shift. One major power system must be at operational status while another is at standby. If the ship is flying at warp, then long-range navigational sensors need to operate.
Yellow Alert Mode
Commanding Officers can implement a Yellow Alert when they suspect that their ship will soon encounter a crisis situation such as combat, ship malfunction or dangerous navigational hazards.
Starfleet strongly recommends that ships go to Yellow Alert before hitting Red Alert (see below), but understands that this is not always possible. During a Yellow Alert, the Operations Manager checks all ship activities and operations, curtailing any that might hinder the ship's ability to deal with the situation, and all active bridge stations go to Full Enable.
Warp power and main impulse systems become fully operational. All phaser banks and photon torpedo launchers energize to partial standby; one photon torpedo arms, though Tactical or Operations can cancel this. Deflector shields go to standby. Sensors check all shipboard activity and notify security of anything out of the ordinary. The ship's computer runs Level 4 diagnostics on all primary and tactical systems and Level 5 diagnostics on survival systems and lifeboats. Long-range and tactical sensors become operational.
Red Alert is the highest level of activity most ships can reach. It is only declared when the ship or its personnel are immediately threatened. Almost the entire crew takes primary or secondary stations. Warp power and main impulse systems become fully operational. All phaser banks and photon torpedo launchers energize to partial standby; one photon torpedo arms, though Tactical or Operations can cancel this. Deflector shields go up. Sensors check all shipboard activity and notify security of anything out of the ordinary. The ship's computer runs Level 4 diagnostics on all primary and tactical systems every five minutes. Long-range and tactical sensors become operational and all other uses of the sensors are cancelled (barring override from Ops). All shuttlebays get ready to launch their vessels. Barriers and forcefields go up between compartments to isolate any damage or danger that may occur.
External Support Mode
Starships are at their most vulnerable during External Support Mode, so it is only allowed when they have docked at a support facility. Much of the ship shuts down while it undergoes repairs, maintenance and upgrades. It takes most ships some time (days in some cases) to re-achieve Cruise Mode after this. The Enterprise-D's visit to the Remmler Array for a baryon sweep is an example.
Most ships have additional modes based on their needs and abilities. For instance, Galaxy-class ships also have Separated Flight Mode for when the saucer section separates, and a Reduced Power Mode for crisis situations.
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