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Old May 10 2013, 04:22 AM   #1
USS Excelsior
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Is there a need for a Helm Department?

It's probably a given that all officers can pilot a shuttle and handle the conn, and when the other Ensigns or Lieutenants are not stationed at the helm of the main bridge then what else are they doing?

The Helm could be a branch of the Engineering department who would have a more intricate understanding of the thrusters and engines they're flying and able to deal with them when they're damaged in a crisis situation, and of course they'd have regular engineering jobs when they don't have shifts at the conn.

And plus why are these Junior officers even in the command division....
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Old May 10 2013, 05:27 AM   #2
LobsterAfternoon
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

I'd suspect there's a difference between being able to competently pilot a shuttle and skillfully pilot a giant starship.

USS Excelsior wrote: View Post
It's probably a given that all officers can pilot a shuttle and handle the conn, and when the other Ensigns or Lieutenants are not stationed at the helm of the main bridge then what else are they doing?

The Helm could be a branch of the Engineering department who would have a more intricate understanding of the thrusters and engines they're flying and able to deal with them when they're damaged in a crisis situation, and of course they'd have regular engineering jobs when they don't have shifts at the conn.

And plus why are these Junior officers even in the command division....
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Old May 10 2013, 05:37 AM   #3
Third Nacelle
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

"Command division" doesn't necessarily mean they're in command of anyone. It means they're in line to eventually be in a command position as they rise through the ranks - an officer in Engineering or Sciences is not. Similar to "line officers" in the modern US Navy.
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Old May 10 2013, 05:51 AM   #4
Chaos Descending
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

Third Nacelle wrote: View Post
"Command division" doesn't necessarily mean they're in command of anyone. It means they're in line to eventually be in a command position as they rise through the ranks - an officer in Engineering or Sciences is not. Similar to "line officers" in the modern US Navy.
Except that in the modern US Navy the Engineering officers are most certainly what Star Trek would call "Command Division" officers.
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Old May 10 2013, 06:57 AM   #5
R. Star
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

Trek was always a bit inconsistent with that. I always considered the command division as those in charge or directly answerable to those in charge.
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Old May 10 2013, 08:01 AM   #6
Gov Kodos
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

USS Excelsior wrote: View Post
It's probably a given that all officers can pilot a shuttle and handle the conn, and when the other Ensigns or Lieutenants are not stationed at the helm of the main bridge then what else are they doing?

The Helm could be a branch of the Engineering department who would have a more intricate understanding of the thrusters and engines they're flying and able to deal with them when they're damaged in a crisis situation, and of course they'd have regular engineering jobs when they don't have shifts at the conn.

And plus why are these Junior officers even in the command division....
I don't see why that would be the case at all. Every officer doesn't learn to pilot a ship today, I don't see starships being any different. There are plenty of jobs to be done that need to be done that won't need pilots training. From communications, to weapons, to moral and recreation, to sciences. Plenty of jobs that will occupy a career and have no need to learn to fly the ships.
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Old May 10 2013, 09:20 AM   #7
C.E. Evans
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

Chaos Descending wrote: View Post
Third Nacelle wrote: View Post
"Command division" doesn't necessarily mean they're in command of anyone. It means they're in line to eventually be in a command position as they rise through the ranks - an officer in Engineering or Sciences is not. Similar to "line officers" in the modern US Navy.
Except that in the modern US Navy the Engineering officers are most certainly what Star Trek would call "Command Division" officers.
It's one of the differences between Starfleet and the modern US Navy.

As far as the OP, every department needs dedicated specialists. I would gather that the helm department is a fairly small one that rotate various duty shifts, with some called upon to fly shuttles and any other auxiliary craft (such as those little construction/repair workbees seen during the TOS movies) when necessary, IMO.
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Old May 10 2013, 12:14 PM   #8
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
Chaos Descending wrote: View Post
Except that in the modern US Navy the Engineering officers are most certainly what Star Trek would call "Command Division" officers.
It's one of the differences between Starfleet and the modern US Navy.
.
Is it, though? Let's look at a couple of career tracks that we've seen.

Geordi: Helmsman, chief engineer, captain (in a possible future)
Worf: Helmsman/bridge lackey, chief of security, chief of ops (while Data was assumed dead), strategic operations / Defiant XO, would have eventually reached captain.

They both go from red to gold to red, and Worf even takes over a technical department for a while. I don't think there's any reason to assume that department specialization is set in stone or in any way influences whether they'll reach a command position.
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Old May 10 2013, 01:36 PM   #9
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

^ Exactly. Division and succession to command are apparently unconnected. Line officers can serve in divisions other than command; officers in other divisions can be closer to succeeding to command than officers in the command division. If the "command" division were called something else, say "control division," there might be less confusion on the issue.

As far as the OP question, on a USN warship the Navigation Department is usually one of smallest departments, if not the smallest, with just a couple of officers and a number of enlisted quartermasters. Nonetheless, it is obviously a very important department with immense responsibilities. I would imagine it would be similar on a starship: You may not need them all the time, but when you do need them it would be good to have some specialists with a lot of experience moving big ships safely around. (Of course it could all be automated, but so could most of the functions aboard ship, and Trek has not gone that direction.)
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Old May 10 2013, 03:19 PM   #10
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

I don't like what TNG did to the helm/nav. They just kept this musical-chairs going with different people there. I prefer having dedicated roles for helm and nav as in TOS.
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Old May 10 2013, 06:27 PM   #11
Third Nacelle
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

^ I agree to a certain extent, but it can't be manned by the same person 24 hours a day. I think they tried to keep a familiar face there with Wesley, and later Ro. After La Forge and Worf went gold, they just didn't have a main character for it.
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Old May 10 2013, 06:33 PM   #12
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

To be fair, I'd imagine with the advances in technology we've seen in Trek, many people, especially Starfleet personnel, would be able to fly a shuttle, at least decently. Given that space travel is common, it might be considered akin to driving. That wouldn't preclude still needing very skilled pilots for shuttlecraft missions/helming a larger starship.
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Old May 10 2013, 07:47 PM   #13
USS Excelsior
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

The TOS movie era had helmsman that were in Operations colours. Kind of like Tactical being in Operations since they don't just fire the weapons they service them as well. So the movie era helmsman must have been part of the Engineering department when it comes to the Warp Drive and propulsion.
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Old May 10 2013, 08:40 PM   #14
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

I was watching TNG the other day for the first time in years and I had to ask myself if there is any need to helm or navigation. Surely the captain/first officer could just tell the computer where they want to go and when they want to arrive by, and the ship can steer itself.
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Old May 10 2013, 08:47 PM   #15
Shawnster
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Re: Is there a need for a Helm Department?

mos6507 wrote: View Post
I don't like what TNG did to the helm/nav. They just kept this musical-chairs going with different people there. I prefer having dedicated roles for helm and nav as in TOS.
23rd Century we had Helm and Navigation. TOS dedicated these to Sulu and Chekov (after season 1)

24th Century we had Con as in Flight Control and Ops as in Ship Operations. Con was both Helm and Navigation. On Voyager, these were dedicated to Paris and Kim.

I, like you, thought for a long time that TNG and onward did "something" to this rhythm. Only recently did I realize all they did was move one of the main characters from in front of the Captain to behind him (or her). Well, TNG had more of a rotating helm officer with a dedicated Con (Data) and Tactical (Yar or Worf). This is because they had to use one of the main characters as Counselor.
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