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For the structure, please see bridge (structure).
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Galaxy bridge empty, 2364

The bridge serves as the central command and operations center of a starship

The bridge was the starship equivalent of an operations center or command center. On Starfleet ships, it was generally located near the top and front of a vessel. From here, the commanding officers supervised all ship's operations, ranging from vessel course control to tactical systems.

Starfleet bridge design Edit

USS Enterprise bridge overview, TAS

Overview of a 23rd century Starfleet bridge.

On Starfleet vessels, the bridge was usually located on Deck 1, on top of the vessel's primary hull. The bridge was the nerve-center of every starship, and it was manned by the top officers of each department except for Engineering and Medical. There was typically an engineering station that the Chief Engineer could use when on the bridge, as well as science stations that the science officer or chief medical officer could use.

The commanding officer could supervise all the ship's operations while seated in the command chair, typically located in the center of the room, while having visual access to all major personnel stations and viewscreens, facilitating the decision-making process. By the mid-24th century, the standard was that a first officer was assigned to assist a ship's captain in this process.

USS Defiant (NCC-1764) bridge

Main Bridge of the Constitution-class USS Defiant

The forward bulkhead of the bridge was typically dominated by the main viewscreen. Directly in front of this was usually the helm console, from where navigation and vessel course control were carried out.

Many of the supportive stations that were present on 23rd century bridges were combined into one post by the 24th century; mainly that of the operations officer. Some bridges feature an operations console alongside the helm station, from where the officer on duty had access to internal systems control, communications, sensors, resource scheduling and hardware and system usage.

Each bridge typically featured several supportive consoles for engineering, gravity control, damage control, environmental engineering, sciences and library computer, most of which did not necessarily need to be manned under normal circumstances. Internal security along with weapons control could be found at the Security station

Most bridges on Starfleet vessels were replaceable modules, so that adaptation for special missions or upgrading was expedited.

Features Edit

Command stations Edit

Galaxy class bridge, 2364

The bridge of a 24th-century Galaxy-class starship featuring three command chairs at center

The bridge command stations provided seating and information displays for the commanding officer and one or two other officers, typically including the first officer. The command chairs were located in the center of the bridge, to maximize interaction with all key bridge personnel, while permitting an unobstructed view of the main viewscreen.

Typically, the armrests of the captain's chair featured miniaturized status displays. Using keyboard or vocal commands, the captain could use these controls to override the basic operation of the starship.

Flight Control Edit

Galaxy class bridge, 2366

The Ops and Conn consoles on the Galaxy-class bridge (forward)

The 24th century Flight Control position, also referred to as Conn, evolved from the 23rd century helm and navigation positions. The officer manning the Flight Control console was responsible for the actual piloting and navigation of the starship. Despite many of these functions being heavily automated, their critical nature demanded a humanoid officer to oversee these operations at all times.

During spaceflight at impulse, Conn was responsible for monitoring relativistic effects as well the inertial damping system status. When traveling at warp speed, Conn was required to monitor the subspace field geometry in parallel with the engineering department. During warp flight, the Conn console continually updated long-range sensor data and makes automatic course corrections to adjust for minor variations in the density of the interstellar medium. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual)

Operations management Edit

Galaxy class bridge conn ops

The Ops and Conn consoles on the Galaxy-class bridge (rear)

Many shipboard operations involved scheduling resources or hardware that affect a number of departments. In many such cases, it was common for various operations to present conflicting requirements. It was the responsibility of the operations officer to coordinate such activities so that mission goals were not jeopardized.

The operations position, also known simply as Ops, evolved from older 23rd century positions. The bulk of the duties held by the helm and navigation positions were combined into the Conn position. Other functions of the helm panel, such as internal systems control, became the purview of Ops, as well as some communications and sensor system usages. (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

The Ops panel presented the operations officer with a continually updated list of current major shipboard activities. This list permits Ops to set priorities and allocate resources among current operations. This is especially critical in cases where two or more requests require the use of the same equipment, entail mutually exclusive mission profiles, or involve some unusual safety or tactical considerations.
During away team missions or emergency situations, the Ops station is supported by the Science Station, found at the rear of the bridge in Galaxy-class designs. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual)

Security and Tactical Edit

Galaxy class bridge security

The security station, integrated in the wooden handrail encircling the Galaxy-class bridge

The bridge station dedicated to defensive systems control and starship internal security is Tactical. Parts of the default control layout presents the security officer with information readouts dealing with the internal protection of the starship and its crew. A wide variety of starship defensive systems are available to the chief tactical officer (sometimes doubling as chief of security), ranging from the defensive shields to phaser and torpedo systems, as well as intrusion detection systems.

Other systems that may be commanded by Tactical include communications, long- and short-range sensor arrays, sensor probes, message buoys, and tractor beam devices.

Supportive stations Edit

Every Starfleet bridge also includes several supportive consoles and backup stations. These may include consoles for Planetary sciences, Engineering, Mission Ops and Environmental Control. Most of these are meant to relieve the senior bridge officers of secondary duties during alert and crisis situations.

Mission Ops provides additional support to the operations officer, and is specifically responsible for monitoring activity relating to secondary missions. Mission Ops is responsible for assignment of resources and priorities according to guidelines specified by the operations officer and by operating protocols. This station is also responsible for monitoring away teams. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual)

The Environmental Control console provides similar relief to the operations officer, monitoring the starship's life support systems. Due to the highly automated nature of these systems, this console would be unattended under normal circumstances, but becomes of crucial importance during alert situations to maximize crew survivability.

The bridge's Engineering station duplicates in simplified form the Chief Engineer's primary status displays from Main Engineering. The purpose of this station is to permit the Chief Engineer to maintain supervision over the engineering system while on the bridge.

22nd century bridge design Edit

NX-class Edit

23rd century bridge design Edit

Most of the bridges during the later half of the 23rd century shared a similar layout to that of the upgraded Constitution-class vessels, which evidently set the standard for bridge design and layout.

Kelvin-typeEdit

Kelvin-type ships were large with many consoles and three windows acting as the viewscreen. They shared the joint Helm-Navigation consoles of Constitution class starships (Star Trek)

Kelvin-Bridge

The Kelvin's bridge in a deleted scene

The
Kelvin bridge set was redressed for the Kobayashi Maru scenario bridge.

Constitution-class Edit

Oberth-class Edit

Miranda-class Edit

Excelsior-class Edit

24th century bridge design Edit

In the early half of the 24th century, before the introduction of the Galaxy-class starship, bridge design was based on the successful layout of the Constitution-class starship, featuring a single captain's chair in the center of the room with two consoles directly in front of it and additional consoles surrounding this central command area.

Background information Edit

The bridges of the Ambassador-, Constellation- and Nebula-classes were all three redresses of the same set, first built, partially, for TNG: "The Battle". The same set eventually also ended up for the Olympic-class starship Pasteur, Beverly Crusher's ship in the anti-time future.

Galaxy-class Edit

Intrepid-class Edit

Voyager Bridge

The Intrepid-class starship bridge

The Intrepid-class bridge was ovoid in shape. At the bridge's rear was a large bank of consoles and data-readout screens. Center of that area was the master systems display. Control consoles flanked it on either side, mission ops I to starboard and mission ops II to port.

Starboard of that information center, past the starboard side turbolift, was the chief tactical officer's console. This area was maintained mostly for internal security and combat situations. An identical station could be found on the other side of the bridge, where the operations console was found.

Two turbolifts provided access throughout the ship, and there was an emergency ladder which connected the bridge with lower decks. Forward of the upper ship operations areas were doorways to the briefing room at one side, and the captain's ready room at the other.

Directly forward of the central command area (where the captain and first officer were seated) and sunken down by two steps was the Conn. From here, the flight control officer served as helmsman and navigator for the vessel. To the Conn's right sat the chief engineer. The console allowed complete control over all engineering systems. Directly opposite sat the chief science officer in a similar console. (VOY: "Caretaker")

Behind the captain's chair, there was a small secondary tactical console located on the handrail. On the USS Voyager this station was typically unmanned, however Seven of Nine used this station on several occasions, particularly on encounters with the Borg. Other crew members, such as The Doctor and B'Elanna Torres used this station on occasion.

In between the captain's and first officer's chairs there was a small console which could be folded down when not in use, or opened and accessed by either officer. Like the larger consoles on the bridge a phaser could be stored within this unit.

Background information Edit

After six years as production designer on The Next Generation, Richard James was no stranger to the legacy of Star Trek and the production requirements of episodic television. When given the assignment to create a new starship from the inside out, he had to start up from scratch.

Nothing had yet been established, and thus for his first meeting with Star Trek: Voyager's creators and producers, James decided to push the boundaries of everything that had gone before. Early concept sketches show bridge designs without the large viewscreen in the front of the bridge and command functions decentralized, obviously breaking the traditional bridge mold.

Intrepid class bridge concept

A Jim Martin concept art for the Voyager's bridge

However, by exhaustively reexamining the dramatic requirements and technological underpinnings of the Star Trek bridge without preconceptions, James rediscovered the strengths of the basic template laid out by Matt Jefferies almost thirty years earlier. But with the broad strokes of the bridge's layout firmly embedded in Star Trek's past, James and his team went on to bring a fresh new interpretation to the heart of every Star Trek adventure, investing it with a sleek, efficient, and welcoming appearance that made Voyager something of its own – the Star Trek for the nineties and beyond.

Sovereign-class Edit

The central area of the main bridge provided seating and information displays for the captain and two other officers. The captain's chair was raised from the rest of the bridge officers, to that of the surrounding level which included Tactical and Operations. The two officer seats were equipped with fully programmable consoles for a variety of uses.

Sovereign class bridge

The main bridge of the Sovereign-class starship

Directly fore of the command area was the conn officer, who faced the main viewer. To the port side of the conn officer, also facing the main viewer, was the operations officer's console, which was identical in size and design to the helm station. At the very front of the bridge chamber was a large viewscreen. In 2373, when the screen was not active, a standard bulkhead was present.

Aft and to the left of the command area was an elevated platform on which tactical and security consoles were located. To the captain's right, behind the tactical console, was the mission operations section of the bridge. Against the port side walls of the main bridge were the consoles for Sciences along with others that were programmable for a multitude of functions.

Located against the aft wall of the bridge was a large master systems display monitor, similar to the one in main engineering. All relevant ship information (such as damage, power distribution, etc.) was displayed on the cutaway image of the vessel. This monitor could be used to direct ship operations and could be configured for limited flight control if necessary. Also located against the aft wall of the main bridge was the large engineering console. This had a smaller cutaway diagram of the vessel, which displayed all engineering-relevant data and showed warp fields and engine output.

There were two turbolifts on the bridge that could handle normal transit around the Sovereign-class starship. Besides, there was an emergency ladder that connected the bridge to lower decks. There was also one door, on the aft platform of the bridge, that led to the observation lounge, directly aft of the main bridge, with another door leading to the captain's ready room. (Star Trek: First Contact)

At least for Star Trek: First Contact, the Sovereign-class bridge was built on Paramount Stage 29.

Defiant-class Edit

Defiant Bridge

The Defiant-class' bridge at red alert

The bridge layout of the Defiant-class was compact, but nonetheless accommodated the familiar engineering, tactical, science, conn, and ops stations. The bridge module was sunken into a much larger deck 1 than on most Federation starships to provide added protection during combat situations. Access to the bridge was provided by two doorways at the back, located on both port and starboard sides. Just forward of the starboard entryway was the location of the ship's dedication plaque, as well as an auxiliary computer access panel.

The port side of the bridge housed the engineering and tactical I stations, while the starboard side featured the science and tactical II consoles. Because of its nearly exclusive role as a combat vessel, stations aboard Defiant-class vessels were designed with speed in mind.

The center of the bridge featured the lone captain's chair, which was on a raised platform and had a clear view of all bridge stations, as well as of the main viewscreen. On both sides of the command chair were separate control panels, allowing the occupant access to virtually every system aboard the ship. Between the command chair and the viewscreen was an integrated flight control and operations panel, capable of performing the joint duties of those stations' larger counterparts on other Starfleet vessels. Like all of the bridge stations on Defiant, the conn had been designed for maximum speed and efficiency of commands input by the operator, allowing the craft to be handled almost like a fighter when under the hands of a skilled pilot.

Flanking both sides of the viewscreen were two tactical stations, which had primary access to the ship's powerful pulse phaser cannons, torpedo launchers and various other special ordinance packages. Working closely with conn, the officers stationed at these consoles were responsible for firing the various weapons aboard the Defiant-class starship during combat operations. The purpose of the tactical II station was to lighten the load on its sister station, particularly in battle.

Prometheus-class Edit

Nova-class Edit

Alien bridge design Edit

Klingon bridge design Edit

K't'inga-class Edit

Bird-of-Prey Edit

Vor'cha-class Edit

Romulan bridge design Edit

Bird-of-Prey Edit

D'deridex-class Edit

Valdore-type Edit

Scimitar Edit

Narada-typeEdit

The Narada's consoles were dotted around the ship due to the ship's spacious design. (Star Trek)

According to the Blu-ray's Starfleet Vessel Simulator, each of the crew's consoles were altered to be separate from each another so they could privately mourn the destruction of Romulus.

Bridge designs of other species Edit

Borg Edit

The Borg possessed the only known vessels not to have a discrete bridge, but whose controls were instead highly decentralized, being run collectively by the Borg drones. (TNG: "Q Who") However, Borg ships did have a command center known as the central plexus.

Dominion Edit

Jem'Hadar attack ships had a bridge that was very peculiar in that it had no chairs, and only two head-mounted virtual display devices instead of a viewscreen. Only the Jem'Hadar First and leading Vorta were allowed to view the outside of the ship. (DS9: "A Time to Stand")

Son'a Edit

Mirror Universe bridge design Edit

NX-class Edit

ISSEnterpriseNX01Bridge

Bridge of the NX-class ISS Enterprise (2155)

The bridge of the Terran Empire's NX-class Enterprise was quite similar in appearance to that of its counterpart from our universe, only that it featured Terran Empire emblems painted on the walls. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly") The bridge of Admiral Black's flagship, the ISS Avenger, was similar in appearance to that of the Enterprise. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")

Constitution-class Edit

ISS Enterprise (NCC-1701) bridge

Bridge of the Constitution-class ISS Enterprise (2267)

Similarily, the only differences between the bridge of the 23rd century Imperial Star Ship Enterprise from the mirror universe and its counterpart from ours was the appearance of Terran Empire emblems appearing on walls and doors, and a high-backed throne-like command chair. Also, guards were stationed on the bridge under all circumstances. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")

Defiant-class Edit

The bridge of the Terran Rebellion's ISS Defiant was similar to that of the Defiant-class bridge from our universe, the vessel's schematics being based on specifications stolen from Starfleet at Deep Space 9. (DS9: "Shattered Mirror")

Alternate realityEdit

Constitution-classEdit

USS Enterprise (alternate reality) bridge

The alternate Enterprise bridge

USS Enterprise alternate universe bridge forward

Forward view

The alternate reality's Constitution-class bridge retained the largeness of the Kelvin-type bridges, as well as the use of the viewscreen as a window. It was larger than the prime or mirror universe's bridge, featuring more consoles in addition to the command chair, science station, communications station, helm and navigation consoles, which were roughly in the same place. It was aesthetically much brighter and smoother, with white paint, blue monitor screens, more lights (that would bathe the room red when red alert was signalled), and even transparent touchscreen boards. A turbolift was located on the port side, while airlocked doors were on the starboard side. (Star Trek)

Production designer Scott Chambliss explained on the Blu-ray the bridge was inspired by Pierre Cardin's architecture.


Appendices Edit

Background information Edit

Eye of the Needle bridge

A diagram of an Intrepid-class bridge, showing what each monitor would display during a particular scene

  • The concept of replaceable bridge modules on Starfleet vessels allows the usage of different bridge sceneries for the same starship class, and so explains why the bridge of the USS Enterprise-A was different in all movies it appeared in and why both the Miranda- and Galaxy-class starships were seen with different types of bridges.
  • A common criticism of the Starfleet bridge is that it is relatively exposed right at the top of the ship with little armor to protect it, making the bridge a prominent target. Non-canon explanation for this is that it is one of the most heavily shielded regions of a ship. The precarious location of the bridge was finally addressed in ENT: "Twilight", when the Xindi shot off the Enterprise NX-01's bridge, killing the entire bridge crew... in an alternate reality; as well in Star Trek Nemesis where the Scimitar fired at the Enterprise's bridge and destroyed the frontal area, exposing it to space and killing at least one crewmember.

See also Edit

Sources Edit

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