|Command the Torch. Be the ultimate authority for all personnel. Get things done. Delegate tasks to the rest of Command. Ensure that all departments run as smoothly as possible. Go down with the ship.|
|Difficulty: Very Hard|
|Related guides: Standard Operating Procedure, Alert Procedure, Sol Central Government Law, Sol Gov Military Justice, Corporate Regulations|
|Part of the|
Head of Department |
Bridge, Bridge Deck
The Commanding Officer (CO) or, in more casual settings, the Captain, is in charge of the SEV Torch and everything on it. It is their duty to make sure the SEV Torch carries out its mission, and makes it back to Sol in one piece. They are expected to be able to command their Heads of Staff effectively to ensure that all departments are running smoothly. They are the ultimate authority on the Torch, and have authorization to access anywhere on board, as well as the power to issue orders essentially without limit.
Obviously, as the role possesses so much power, it is recommended that only experienced players attempt the Commanding Officer position.
The Commanding Officer's main job is to lead and direct the ship, usually from the bridge. They have direct authority over the Heads of Staff, changing the alert level, going to red alert, contacting Expeditionary Command, calling an abandon ship or early jump, and coordinating ship-wide emergency evacuation and defense. They are, essentially, the Head of Staff for other Heads of Staff, and a large part of the role is ensuring that the rest of Command is doing their jobs properly.
It is the CO's job to make sure that all the Heads of Staff are communicating and leading their departments properly, or making sure that the Executive Officer or Bridge Officers are doing it for him. If a department lacks an official head, the CO or XO should appoint one to take the lead in the interim, and ensure that they are able to communicate with the rest of Command. Ideally, the CO should never have to involve themselves directly in the actions of a department, but rather assign competent personnel to handle the issue for them. Like other Command personnel, the CO should act as a coordinator rather than an executive, only taking direct a direct hand in other departments when no other option is available.
The CO should not, for example, have to tell the Chief Engineer to start the engine; a competent Chief should be able to do this themselves. If they can't, it falls to the CO to make the decision as to whether to demote the current head, promote someone to replace them, or whatever else is required to ensure that Engineering runs smoothly and that the engine comes online in a reasonable amount of time. The CO's job is not to do others' work for them, but make sure that said work is being done correctly, and to take steps to correct matters if it is not.
Alerts and SOP
The Commanding Officer has the ultimate authority on deciding the ship's alert level, and can alter it directly from any given Command console (usually found on the bridge, in front of The Chair). Each alert level makes changes in the rules for how other departments, particularly Security, operate, and denotes a certain level of danger to the ship.
The CO has the responsibility of deciding when to alter the ship's alert level, and to what degree. They should therefore be aware of what each alert level means in terms of alterations to Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), and communicate that information to the rest of the crew to ensure compliance with regulations.
As the ultimate authority on the ship, the Commanding Officer has a wide variety of special equipment available, ranging from protective gear and weaponry to a personal handheld teleporter and a nuclear authentication disk (along with a tracker to locate said disk if it ever goes missing). As this is all obviously high-value, dangerous equipment, it should be secured as best as possible at the beginning of every round to keep it out of the hands of troublemakers.
Do note that, while the CO has a variety of combat gear available, they are not Security, and are neither expected nor encouraged to go hunting down threats to the ship in person.
The Commanding Officer has the final say on almost every matter on the station. If the Commanding Officer tells someone to do something, they had best do it immediately, or at least have a justification for their refusal immediately ready. The CO should, however, follow SolGov Law, along with all other relevant regulations, and are not above the law; Security, with appropriate authorization (usually from the XO), does have the authority to arrest the CO and remove them from command if necessary.
Situations where the Commanding Officer's orders can be legitimately overridden are rare, so long as the CO in question knows what they're doing. Valid reasons for refusal of a CO's orders include, but are not limited to, violations of SolGov law, threats posed to the health and safety of the crew, and potential damage to the ship. For example, an order given to the Chief Engineer instructing that they vent the Mess Hall to prevent people getting drunk in the bar would be rightfully ignored, and possibly result in punitive action against the CO. The Commanding Officer has authority, yes, but this doesn't allow them to go around being a tyrant or an idiot and not expect reprisal.
Barring such flagrant violations of the law or common sense, however, the Captain's orders are absolute. Any complaints or issues with instructions given, rather than resulting in direct disobedience, should be taken up with the SolGov Representative.
Vessels far beyond the Sol Frontier are often under threat from various criminal organisations and natural disasters. The Commanding Officer's job is to manage these threats and ensure that they do not disrupt ship activity, damage its systems, or threaten its crew. Most of the time, shipboard Security, Medical, and Engineering forces, when properly coordinated, should be sufficient to deal with the threat. The CO's job is to ensure that they know what needs to be done and undertake the necessary actions competently, rather than to pick up an energy gun and go out to handle it themselves.
In the case of the Torch being threatened with capture by hostile forces, the Commanding Officer also has access to the ultimate defense mechanism: a self-destruct device secured within the Vault that will destroy the Torch and all personnel aboard. This can only be activated using the nuclear authentication disk and the appropriate codes from Expeditionary Command, and should obviously not be activated lightly. The very existence of this device is classified information, usually only available to the CO and the rest of Command.
- In terms of roleplaying, the CO has a lot of freedom. They should really have some basic knowledge of how each department runs, and who the heads of them are, but outside of that you could really have as much (or as little) knowledge as you want. You can play with a background in a certain field, but you should NOT be able to do everything (i.e. being able to set-up the engine single-handedly AND being an expert surgeon AND knowing how to make bombs is probably going too far). Just remember that an incompetent CO doesn't make too many friends.
- Generally, you want to leave Security matters to Security. You don't need to, and shouldn't, step in on every criminal situation. You are above the Chief of Security in the chain of command, but you should delegate Security matters to them. Only step in if you think that a decision could endanger the ship or crew.
- Do NOT run around the ship with guns, chasing criminals. That's for the grunts to worry about.
- Don't think that, just because you're the CO, that you can do anything you want. That's the absolute worst thing to do. You're there to make sure everyone else is doing their job, not to do it for them.
- Delegate often to your Executive Officer and make good use of your Bridge Officers. They're there to help you and make running the Torch easier.
- Trust your crew. Your department heads and staff are experts and should have enough experience to do their jobs independently or with the intervention of their department head. You should never need to intervene in the chef's job unless you think they are being utterly incompetent and actively poisoning the crew. Trusting your crew and having faith in them is a trait that all good captains should share.