Role In Focus – Helm, Communications, and Operations (HCO)

Role In Focus – Helm, Communications, and Operations (HCO)

One of the most rewarding aspects of simming in the SB118 fleet is the diversity of roles available, ranging from helm and medical to diplomacy and marines. This series highlights that diversity by delving deep into each role and sharing insights from those in the fleet who have experienced them. In this edition, we explore the role of the Helm, Communications, and Operations (HCO).

The HCO position, as we know it today, is a unique creation of our roleplaying organization, which has influenced other groups across the internet. Recognizing that individual Helm, Communications, or Operations officers might lack sufficient solo simulation opportunities, we combined these three roles for roleplaying purposes. The USS Defiant on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine later featured a combined helm and operations station on its bridge, solidifying the position as part of the official canon.

The HCO Officer is responsible for all flight control operations of the ship. They also coordinate ship activities to ensure no system or resource is overloaded. Additionally, the HCO Officer monitors the status of away teams when they are off the ship and manages all communications to and from the vessel. However, there’s much more to this role. To gain further insight, we reached out to some of our fleet’s simmers.

Lieutenant JG T’Ama of the USS Constitution-B shared her enjoyment of the role:

“I enjoy the flexibility. Depending on the composition of the other roles in a scene you might find yourself doubling as engineering or as command, and it’s not even that much of a stretch into supporting tactical or science. Plus, Operations gives you an excuse to go anywhere on the ship, potentially know anything and everything about the daily operations and comings and goings, and investigate problems across multiple departments.”

Lieutenant JG Lhandon Nilsen of the USS Octavia E. Butler echoed T’Ama’s thoughts:

“HCO is very much a role that lets you contribute to any scene, you’re very much a jack of all trades and master of a just as much. You can take the lead for speaking for your away team, set up equipment that they might want to use, and coordinate resources with other team members or NPCs. No other role gives you this amount of flexibility.”

Lieutenant Toxin Arlill, Chief of Operations on the USS Octavia E. Butler, elaborated on T’Ama’s point:

““The HCO role is multifaceted, encompassing various tasks and facilitating bridge planning and operations – a facet I particularly enjoy. It’s a rewarding experience. Anticipate high activity levels in SIMS, as it frequently requires involvement in diverse operations and activities.”

When asked for guidance, Lieutenant T’Ama advised:

“My advice is to view it as a sort of hybrid class in an MMO where your job is to play support. It can certainly take a little bit of creativity, but it’s very versatile.”

Lieutenant JG Nilsen added:

“There’s no wrong way to play the role. I’ve seen HCOs in the fleet who focus more on the helm, while I have more of a focus on operations. I love how Dax was able to both fly the Defiant but also contribute in other areas of DS9, the same goes for Tom Paris growing beyond just helm. That’s really appealing to me, I get to be more than just a hotshot pilot.”

When asked why she chose HCO, T’Ama responded:

“Operations is really similar to my day job and Data is one of my favorite characters. I was dead set on it from the start.”

Lieutenant Arlill said:

“My choice to take up the HCO role was motivated by my desire to not only fly but also to integrate myself into every ship department, highlighting the ubiquitous role of ops.”

If this has persuaded you to try the HCO role, be sure to check out the wiki to learn more. If you’re ready to join us, head over to Starbase 118’s website and sign up today!

You can read about Lieutenant JG Lhandon Nilsen, Lieutenant JG T’Ama and Lieutenant Toxin Arlill on the wiki.

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