Helm control is routed through the bridges helm console and provides the officer with access to key manoeuvring systems.
Should the system fail, helms officers can re-route control through various other systems where required to maintain control. There are several redundancies that the helm officer can try. At the same time, should the helm console fail entirely, control can be re-routed through other consoles on the bridge, allowing control to be maintained by another officer until the helm console becomes operational once more.
The console itself provides direct control of several manoeuvring systems.
Vertical and Lateral Thrust control allows the helm officer to operate thrusters located in multiple points along the port and starboard side of the main section of the ship’s hull for lateral control, and dorsal and ventral sections for vertical control.
The input from helm control feeds into a main thruster control computer, which then calculates the required level of output from the thrusters themselves, as well as the sequence of firing, to enable a smooth turn to a particular heading. Helms officer have both automated and manual control over lateral thrusters – automated control turns the ship at a set rate and halts the ship’s turn when a new heading is achieved, whereas manual control will allow the ship to continue turning at a rate set by the helms officer until the ‘rudder’ is centred.
The thruster control computer can also compensate for damage, as well as re-route commands through alternative pathways in the ship’s internal controls network should there be a requirement. Such adjustments can impact the efficiency and response of the thrusters, and extensive damage can result in thruster control going offline until pathways are repaired. Other possible reasons for lowered efficiency include: thruster misalignment, requiring a recalibration of the thruster control computer or, in extreme cases realignment of the thruster itself via an EVA; power failure, to either the thruster control computer or the thrusters themselves, requiring work on the power relays to direct power to the system…..
Control for warp and impulse systems are separate from thruster control and have their own computer control systems.
Impulse engine control is used to control forward and backward impulse speed. An impulse array is located on the forward section of the main hull, whilst two more are located on the rear sections, close to the warp nacelles. Similar to thruster control, input from the helm console is fed to an impulse control computer, which then diverts the required power to engage impulse engines to accelerate the ship. Deceleration is achieved by shifting power fore and aft as required.
Similarly, warp engines are controlled via inputs to the warp drive computers. The warp drive power levels are then adjusted accordingly and fed into the engine manifold to provide power to the warp engines and achieve warp speeds.
For information on shield systems, see the WEAPONS TECHNICAL INFORMATION section.