36

Which is correct, A or B? As he turns over the command, Kirk says

A) 'You have the COM' [as in Command]

or

B) You have the CONN.' [as in ???]

I've always assumed the former, A, is correct, but a recent television commercial for the new Star Trek app, claims B, which has left me thoroughly confused.

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    I don't have a Star Trek specific reference, but en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conn_(nautical) – Amy Jan 9 at 1:14
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    Is he turning over command? I think he's only turning over control of the ship and its actions. He's always the one in command - unless he leaves the ship on some solo venture for a sustained period of time, I think. (Boinking an alien isn't a long enough period of time: He's still in command, then.) – davidbak Jan 9 at 19:00
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    @HamSandwich - That seems a little unfair. There are multiple mentions of officers being "left in command" or "in command" of a vessel. – Valorum Jan 9 at 22:30
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    Granted, but "com" never means "command," does it? – Ham Sandwich Jan 9 at 22:45
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    @HamSandwich - How is OP supposed to know that? – Valorum Jan 10 at 1:18
58

The command is "you have the conn", as can be seen in this original screenplay from Star Trek: The Motion Picture

KIRK: Mr. Decker, I'd like to see you in my quarters.
(toward helm)
You have the conn, Mr. Sulu.


The term "conn" is a naval/nautical expression;

One of the most important principles of ship handling is that there be no ambiguity as to who is controlling the movements of the ship. One person gives orders to the ship's engine, rudder, lines, and ground tackle. This person is said to have the "conn."

— James Alden Barber, 2005, "Introduction", The Naval Shiphandler's Guide, p. 8.

The etymology is lost, but it may have something to do with the conduct of the vessel.

  • 10
    Yes, it is definitely CONN - as in submarine CONNing tower - bridge CONNing stations. Hunt for Red October "Conn, Sonar, Crazy Ivan!" (Communication from sonar station to the Conn) Battlestar Galactica - The Captain's Hand: Garner:"I have to get down there, you have the conn" Adama: "Yes sir, I have the conn" – Andrew Jan 9 at 3:38
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    The etymology's not entirely lost. The noun comes from the verb (also "conn"), which the Oxford English Dictionary believes most likely comes from the verb "cond". "Cond" itself comes from "condue" which in turn is from the French "conduire". Lastly, that French word comes from Latin "condūcere", which you could trace back further... – Laurel Jan 9 at 4:57
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    @Laurel - That's certainly one theory about the etymology. But when the OED uses words like 'most likely' you know that they're hedging their bets – Valorum Jan 9 at 7:58
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    Just be careful on pronunciation. Otherwise, you have Kirk shouting, "You have the KHAN!" – Ghotir Jan 9 at 14:36
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    @BrianOrtiz It is fairly common, nautically at least, to have an officer junior to the commanding officer doing conns, even while (s)he is present. (S)He will counter any order he deems unwise or unfit, or issue orders deemed necessary and otherwise let whomever has the conn do it. – Stian Yttervik Jan 10 at 10:15
0

My memory was 'You have the bridge'. So I checked and

http://star-trek.answers.wikia.com/wiki/What_does_you_have_the_bridge_mean

gives a good explanation of both the usages

The conn, likewise is the station one uses to directly control the ship's maneuvers. The "conning tower" on a submarine, for example, is so named because when a sub is on the surface, it can be commanded and steered from a secondary helm (or "conn") on the top of the conning tower. Both the watch officer (such as the captain) or the helmsman can be said to "have the conn" at any given time. The helmsman has the conn because he is physically manning the station and steering the ship. A watch officer may have the conn because while he doesn't man the station, he directs the helmsman, at the conn, where the ship is to be steered. It is often mistakenly misunderstood to represent the bridge itself, because the same watch officer that is said to "have the conn" is also said to "have the bridge" as he is in charge of the entire bridge watch.

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