Bridge communication

Terran Stellar Navy Forums (OOC) Division Development Bridge communication

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    Matthew Vaj

    I’ve noticed that bridge communication sometimes gets jumbled during action with multiple people trying to convey important information to others all at the same time. I’m not aware of any official “order of importance” list for the stations on a ship, but it might be helpful to have one. I took the liberty of drawing up an admittedly probably subjective list:

    Battlegroup Commander
    Communications (Surrender Messages)
    Communications (Non-surrender messages)

    My reasoning is as follows:
    – Obviously CO’s (at any level) should get priority.

    – If a target surrenders, the Weapons officer needs to know it immediately, especially if he/she is in manual targeting mode and the surrender does not show up on the tactical screen.

    – According to the advanced training documents for the Helm console,
    “In a combat situation, the responsibility for making specific and immediate tactical decisions is given to the Helms Officer. The kind of decisions that the Helm Officer will make depends upon the current intentions of the Captain, and these intentions will be communicated through orders, such as the Combat Orders.
    Specific tactical decisions that a Helms Officer will make include: positioning of the ship in relation to enemy fleets that are within combat range; the optimal firing positions; the precise manoeuvres of the ships, such as low warp bursts or high energy turns; and to a certain extent, target priority.”
    The helm officer should be vocal in communicating his tactical decisions to the rest of the crew to ensure the safety of the ship and her crew as well as the success of the mission.

    – The captain (and Helm officer) must be aware of the ship’s condition to make decisions that will ensure the safety of the ship and crew.

    – The information that science communicates is critical for the success of the mission.

    – The Comms officer may have information regarding station supplies and ships that are offering supplies if we do something for them. These offers can be useful, but are rarely critical and are thus the lowest on my list.

    As I said, this is probably a subjective assessment. This is based on my personal experience with orders becoming unclear due to too many voices talking all at once. I figure if someone who is higher than you is starts talking, it is probably more important than your information, so shut up and listen, then continue once the information has been acknowledged.

    It honestly might not be worth bothering with, but I thought I’d offer it up to discussion.


    This is a great resource for cadets, thanks for putting it together!

    The only thing I’d add is the XO, who would be helping the Captain run the ship and maintain order while the Captain coordinates with the fleet. They would be right below the Captain on your list, as they might be noticing some critical detail that the captain needs to hear ASAP.

    Also, Science may need to be moved up (especially if the XO doesn’t also have a science screen), since they might notice things that would cause the captain to redeploy the ship elsewhere, to protect a station under attack for instance.


    I’ll have to agree with Quinn on this.

    Science is a tricky one, as the role changes depending on the situation. In combat, all of their call outs (frequencies, special abilities) are short enough messages that repeating them as necessary is quick enough to not be annoying.

    Outside of combat, that changes. They need to be just as tactically aware as the COs, if not more so. Unless ordered, they have the choice of what gets scanned. Glancing over the map to determine that can often reveal new information that the Captain needs to know.

    Blaze Strife

    All the role change depending on the situation.

    For example, a Weapons officer needs to be heard when he’s loading something, so that the Engineering can boost tubes, but other times probably has nothing important to say, regarding the station itself.

    I think that the basis for all of this is much simpler:

    • if an officer of higher rank is speaking, shut up unless you have something important to say (if you think that it’s important, you’ll be corrected if it’s not);
    • if you’re talking and the higher ranked officer starts talking at the same time, shut up.

    If we all follow this, the pure experience you amass while you reach Lt.Jr. will let you know when you can or should speak. There are a some Cadets and Ensigns that have not yet learned this important lesson.


    The key thing here though, is the awareness to censor oneself if you hear a competing communication. At the first hint of a voice not from our bridge, I cut myself off. Likewise if the captain is speaking (unless I’m in a sim, on science and trying to teach him to let me do the job! 🙂 )

    I am typically on Engineering and literally the only critical message I ever have is warning of damage or energy level that may compromise our ability to survive an engagement. Everything else can wait for a natural gap. Even though, as Engineer, I am quite vocal with confirming the status of energy priority so that the rest of the bridge is not surprised by the ship’s capabilities at any point.

    Matthew Vaj

    These are certainly good points. Blaze is absolutely right with his two bullet points. I made this list in mind specifically for situations of immediate combat, when a lot of talking is most likely to happen, so in situations when combat is not immediate, this list is all wrong. Engineers and Weapons don’t need to talk much as long as they are paying attention (and can hear/understand the orders given), so I don’t think they need to moved, and during combat science is mostly shield frequencies and special abilities, so I think that’s good, too. I’ll add XO, though.

    But back to Blaze’s comments, I suppose this is just a guideline for new cadets and ensigns. Every crew is a little different, and how they interact is different, too.

    Matthew Vaj

    Incidentally, some captains and Helm officers forget this as well (from the Combat Orders Document, and it wouldn’t hurt to put this into the Advanced Helm Training Document):

    “When a captain issues a combat order, they give tactical control of the ship over to the Helms Officer. This means that, during the engagement, the Helms Officer is responsible for manoeuvring and positioning the ship effectively, designating key targets and calling out specific actions required (such actions may include the deployment of mines, or a power boost to a specific system), as detailed by the combat order. The Helms Officer must carry out such actions in line with the combat orders. They should not take any action that contradicts the combat order, or issue new combat orders themselves.”

    Not that I’m trying to be critical, it’s just an observation.


    I would say, key information should be put across as if you are directing it to the captain. Though other officers pick up and act on it, the captain needs to know everything that is going on to make a decision. I know when I captain, all I am focusing on is the information flowing from the crew and my captain’s map. As you do so, consider how vital your information is and make sure you are stating things clearly. Though to be honest some small snippet of information that seems irrelevant could potentially be vital (though it is rare).

    Other officers will respond automatically to what is going on anyway I think. I always feel that helm should be doing plenty of talking, they call out targets for weapons as they know how they can move the ship around, they call out for manoeuvring etc.

    The one thing I always say though is act on the captain’s orders. No one else should be giving orders, just communicate information.

    I recall in the past (quite some time ago now) an engineer shouting to take evasive action because we started taking damage. Now I knew we could take the damage and destroy the enemy, but helm got confused and pulled out. It meant the combat was extended, and we took more damage than necessary. What should have happened is engineering should have reported damage, helm be ready to pull out, but my order to continue the combat not contradict direction from someone else.


    In response to Vaj,

    The bit about helm saying specific actions is to do with the more immediate situation. A captain can’t call a mine drop as accurately as a helms officer should be able to for example, and it is much easier for helm to indicate who they are aiming for when maneouving on combat. When I am on helm for example, I am always thinking about where the ship will be positioned and where enemy ships will be, not where both are at that moment in time.

    The idea is to give helm that little bit more freedom to be creative and clever with their flying. Of course, it doenst mean the weapons officer switches off. If helm calls a mine drop and weapons sees a friendly too close, they should hold fire technically. Just as weapons automatically switches target to destroy a drone, or can make the decision to use manual over auto targeting.

    I have been working on a revision of the combat orders and attack patterns and I aim to include some details on manouvring that helm officers could use to better position the ship, though a tactical document on advanced helm, weapons, engineering, comms and science roles might be more suitable.

    I do wonder for example, how many comms officers are currently able to form and effectively use allied combat ship groups (ie neutrals). Or how many really think about directing neutrals to safe zones, which may even include off the nearest sector edge, rather than around enemies and minefields to a base (note, neutrals sent off the edge of the map count as safe and not destroyed in the solo and coop games – out of the battle space = safe ship)


    One thing not yet explicitly discussed in this conversation are acknowledgements, for instance, when the CO orders a specific course and helm repeats it to confirm the order is received, or helm calls a HET and engineering notes maneuver is boosted. I would think the response normally has comparable priority as the original communication, but is that (always) so?

    Matthew Vaj

    @xavier, it’s funny you mentioned the tactical document on advanced stations. I had noticed that only Helm and Communications Advanced Training Documents were available, so I’ve been working on one for Engineering to put forward, and I was planning on including advanced combat order guidelines for engineers. I’ll send it your way once I’m happy with it.

    You’re definitely right, the Captain should be the only one giving orders, and all information should be directed to him, but let me propose this situation:

    A captain calls for an Delta 2 on the fleet just ahead. Now, either the captain or helm could look at the fleet and decide on a target. If the captain calls the target, the helm officer might not have a good way of getting to the target while minimizing damage. The helm officer has a closer and more clear look at the immediate tactical situation than the captain’s map. I figure if the helm officer is allowed to call targets (unless the captain has good reason to override), the captain can focus on wider strategy – what the next combat order should be, what fleet to attack next.

    As I understand it, the helm and other officers are free to make a lot of decisions so long as they do not counteract the captain’s current orders. Given a Delta 2, the helm can call targets, make passes and high energy turns all within that combat order. Helm should not take excessive evasive action without further orders, weapons shouldn’t load ordnance, and engineering shouldn’t boost warp power. Am I mistaken?

    Draeco, I would think so, because confirmation could be the difference between an Echo and an Omega, or heading to 60 degrees instead of 160 degrees, or all kinds of crazy miscommunication.

    John van Leigh

    Let me begin by bringing up my theory that helm officers are raised as tacticians, while science officers are raised as strategists. I’m a science officer so my analysis of a situation tends to deviate towards an area instead of towards an action, and I rely a lot on Helm dealing with the smaller scale.

    First, I think that if I have to micromanage helm, we’re both screwing up. I can give a more general order, such as “attack any dettached ships”, or “move to the rear as soon as this Kralien is dead”, or even more often “snipe this Arvonian”, or “your priority is to kill A98”. I have the luxury of working routinely with the two best helmsmen of the division (Aposine in my previous post on Lancer and Quinn here on Viper), and we never had an issue. Then again, they are really good tacticians who can more often than not get the proper positioning without needing more specifics. And we have enough experience together that we can trust each other’s assessments beyond the idea of just everyone doing their jobs.

    Now, someone has to always look at the ship status, either the CO, the XO or the engineer, because there are variables that force a retreat. Warp knocked for some captains, for me it’s beam damage, some prefer shields at 0%… If a helm officer retreats under my command just because of shields, no matter his previous experience, he made a mistake. And again, waiting for beam damage and not retreating when shields are down can be a mistake with a different captain. Ideally, only the CO or the XO should begin pulling out.

    About rank and priority of information, I agree with most of the list. Now, while I understand and appretiate that junior officers stop talking if I have something to say, a high ranking officer with a working brain knows that, for his experience, there are times when your subordinate has something more urgent to bring up.

    The problem comes, indeed, from new cadets with little experience playing Artemis online, and it is corrected fairly soon. Officers who remain stubborn on their lack of comms discipline are rarely promoted, because it really disrupts a lot.

    Personally, whenever possible, I try to address cadets that come under my command for their first simulation with something along these lines:

    Welcome aboard, cadet. You might notice that I’m a rather unconventional officer, and you might feel confused. Ask any questions, just not when in combat. There are many things done here that nobody else does, so take what I say with a grain of salt and don’t assume other command officers will agree with me. Now, if you think you’re doing something right, by all means take initiative and do it without bringing it up to me. If you’re wrong, I’ll tell you. The rest are corrections as we go, don’t position the ship close to that many enemies, remember the shields, you need to prioritize beams instead of shields…


    I think it was mentioned, but so much of this hinges on a captain’s command style. For instance, Alice was very particular about the way I executed maneuvers and called very specific targets in combat, while Verok (her XO at the time) kept her appraised of strategic considerations from the science map. Van Leigh, however, and Verok to some degree, are toward the opposite end of the spectrum. They prefer to share their strategic intentions on an engagement and allow helm and weapons to coordinate with each other to execute it.

    Both are legitimate strategies, but each changes the communication norms slightly.

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