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 ship
- Aft: generally anything astern of the z-axis mid-line of a vessel; diminutive of the word "after".
- Bow: the forward section (or fore) of a ship.
- Stern: the rear section (or aft) of a ship.
- Port (side): the left side of a ship from the perspective of a person standing on board and facing the bow of the ship on the bridge.
- Starboard: the right side of a ship from the perspective of a person standing on board and facing the bow of the ship on the bridge.
- 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 crew
- 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
- 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.
- Fore, Bow: the forward end of a vessel.
- Aft, Stern: the rear end of a vessel.
- Port: the left side of a vessel when facing forward.
- Starboard: the right side of a vessel when facing forward.
- Dorsal: the top of a vessel.
- Ventral: the bottom of a vessel.
- Course: the direction of travel of a ship or object; courses may be described by destination ("Set course for Starbase 375..."), by heading (see below), or by bearing (see below).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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")
- 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.
Functions of a ship and crew
- 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.
- 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") Captain Sisko argued to Luther Sloan that his officer needn't be dragged through public places in irons. (DS9: "Inquisition")
- 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.
- 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)
"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)
An acknowledgment of an order. One "aye" for the acknowledgment. Two "aye"s for acknowledgment and carrying out of order. Commander Riker believed that only one "aye" was sufficient for both, however. (TNG: "Lower Decks")
"Shipshape and Bristol fashion"
"Steady as we/she go(es)"
"Walk 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".
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")