In Star Trek: Discovery S1:E9 "Into the Forest I Go", we see Ensign Stammets and Doctor Culber have a discussion about another spore drive jump. We read:

Culber: You saying you'll actually sit through that with me? Just this jump.

Stammets: And then I'm going to have a lot of free time on my hands.

Captain Lorca: Let's go home.

We then see Captain Lorca enter the coordinates for their destination.

My question is: Is it normal for the captain on a Starfleet vessel to personally enter coordinates prior to a jump?

  • 1
    Because the drive is new there probably isnt yet any protocol around its usage. But a captain probably has the authority to do as he/she/it wishes due to rank. Dec 10, 2017 at 3:48

3 Answers 3


We don't really know what's 'normal', because since the destruction of the Glenn, Discovery is the only Starfleet vessel with a displacement activated spore hub drive. Other Starfleet vessels don't jump.

We do know that Captain Lorca typically orders the helmsman to set a course and engage, indicating that standard procedure on Discovery is that the Captain doesn't enter coordinates.

The log labels it as an override when he punches in new coordinates. It's unlikely that the system would be configured to log the override if it was normal.


As others have noted, since Discovery is the only ship with a spore drive it is unlikely there is an official protocol outside of what has been set by Lorca. I don’t believe we saw Lorca in engineering during any other jump, though, and if we were to follow the precedent set by warp drive it is likely the captain typically would just give the order and let his or her subordinates carry out the details.

However, it should be noted that the jump in “Into the Forest I Go” wasn’t a typical jump. Stamets had decided this was his last jump, that he was only doing to get the crew home. There was a bit of a ceremonial air to it, and the explanation for Lorca being there would likely be that he was personally entering the coordinates out of respect for Stamets and to see him off.

Of course, if we are to believe that Lorca has ulterior motives, his true reason for doing it in person was to secretly use the drive to move them somewhere other than where they were supposed to go. In that case, standing on ceremony was a disguise to deflect suspicion about why he was there in person.


Speaking from a general ship (i.e. not just Star Trek) standard, no. You generally have different duty stations for a reason, and the helmsman is the position in question here.

A professional helmsman maintains a steady course, properly executes all rudder orders, and communicates to the officer on the bridge using navigational terms relating to ship's heading and steering. A helmsman relies upon visual references, a magnetic and gyrocompass, and a rudder angle indicator to steer a steady course. The mate or other officer on the bridge directs the helmsman aboard merchant or navy ships.

Now, Starfleet is a quasi-military organization. Still, you have a commanding officer in charge of the bridge. In Star Trek, a lot of these stations can be automated by computer (Star Trek III saw 5 people run the entire ship), but you still need orders issued by the commanding officer and carried out by the crew. A major reason for this is situational awareness. An order might be given that doesn't take into account the status of the ship. The helmsman's one job is to steer the ship and make sure they don't run into anything. In real life, a navy ship lost situational awareness and was struck by other ship as a result.

We do see commanding officers run the helm in unusual circumstances. In the episode 11001001, the entire ship is evacuated, except for Picard and Riker. At the end of the episode, once the problem is resolved, we see Picard enter coordinates and engage the helm by himself, partly for pragmatic reasons, and partly for comedic effect (Picard tells himself to "engage").

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