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Role and Duties
Operations managers aboard starships and starbases have a number of diverse duties, including the allocation of many important systems.
The increasing complexity of Starfleet vessels has led to an ever-expanding reliance on automatic systems that are capable of monitoring their own performance, often with the ability to rectify any problems that may develop. The majority of shipboard and starbase activity is reliant on the main computer system, and while the computing power they have is considerable, the need to keep a human being in the decision-making loop was met with the introduction of the Operations Manager. Starfleet vessels and facilities feature a dedicated work station on the bridge or operations centre that is designed to allow the operations manager to carry out their primary duties; that of controlling the various departmental functions running during a mission, and assigning the most efficient use of available resources.
The operations manager is extremely reliant in artificial intelligence subroutines built into the main computer network to carry out the majority of the routine work. Tasks such as the routing of power and sensor usage to different departments are handled by the main computer, although the allocation of such resources is often decided by the officer in charge. The need for the operations station increases on a research vessel or facility, as various simultaneous scientific and engineering operations may present conflicting resource requirements, requiring a hierarchical decision of use to be made and implemented. Successful attainment of mission goals is one of the most important factors governing the decisions an operations manager may take, and due to the highly unpredictable nature of many situations faced by Starfleet crews, the experience and skills of ops is there to ensure mission objectives are never jeopardised.
The ops station’s importance is highlighted by its positioning on the bridge. The relative location aboard both Galaxy and Sovereign class vessels is virtually identical, positioned to the forward left of the captain’s chair with an unbroken view of the main viewscreen. Its position on Intrepid-class vessels however is different, placing the station behind and above the senior officers, but facing forward and sharing a number of interfaces with the tactical station to its right.
The operations manager has at their disposal a series of readouts that give a continually updated list of current shipboard activities, thus allowing ops to prioritise resources on request, or alter the balance in cases of emergency or potentially dangerous tactical situations. The way in which resources for ship’s sensors are allocated is particularly important for exploratory vessels as a number of differing departments require the usage of this resource for a wide variety of reasons. In cases where there is a chance of one department’s use interfering or preventing the success of another, the operations manager may reschedule the allocation of sensor usage, or even request alterations to the vessel’s course. In cases where an immediate scan is required for defensive or tactical purposes by the bridge, the operations officer has the authority to immediately demote all usage and employ the scanners solely for overriding use.
The operations station’s displays can be configured by the ops manager to present a menu of the most desirable courses of action when a conflict of emergency is met. A great deal of the allocation will be carried out automatically at the level of importance determined by the operations manager, although emergency overrides exist for immediate negation of any computer decision. One example of this may involve the authorisation and launching of shuttlecraft – the computer usually handles scheduled launches, with unauthorised attempts immediately notified to ops where attempts can be made to disengage the launch sequence. Under potentially catastrophic conditions, or at times requiring the tactical advantage, it is also the responsibility of the operations manager to enable the saucer-separation routine for all capable vessels.
The operations manager is also responsible for providing status information to the main computer, which is then routed to all other departments and personnel. The officer also has an active controlling influence over LCARS in conjunction with the tactical officer. During crisis situations and times in which the vessel is travelling in reduced power mode, operations liaise closely with engineering in order to supervise the coordination of power allocation. The operations officer can instigate load shedding of nonessential power usage in such situations, although the officer has to be extremely careful to preserve essential and emergency power to those areas that need it the most.
The operations officer’s role extends to the preparation of away missions, from notifying specific personnel of their assignment and provision of relevant information, to the replacement of crewmembers in their normal roles when assigned to such teams. Preparations for the monitoring of away teams, tricorders telemetry, and communications are also a responsibility, as is the notification of issuance for specific field equipment that may be required. During a mission or normal shipboard activity, the operations manager may undertake a wide variety of roles in addition to monitoring departmental status and shipboard activity. For example, Ensign Harry Kim shared the responsibility for monitoring the bioneural circuitry with the tactical officer Tuvok, and was actively involved in the scanning of, and communicating with, approaching vessels, in addition to internal security, and navigational responsibilities.