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Star Trek: What Is The Conn?

The entire "Star Trek" franchise is loaded with in-world tech jargon — jargon many Trekkies have come to love through the years. And while viewers can't expect to understand all of it, some ideas are more clearly spelled out than others. Between space metaphors and shop talk, engineers like Geordi LaForge, Montgomery Scott, and Trip Tucker do a fair job of explaining concepts like the intermix chamber, plasma coils, and deflector shields. But there's one concept that's frequently referenced throughout the franchise and yet never directly explained — the ship's "conn."

Typically used by a ship's captain or commanding officer within the "Star Trek" universe, the word "conn" seems to pop up when there's a shift or duty change of some kind on the bridge, as the officer in charge tells another bridge officer, "You have the conn." One of the most important assignments on a Starfleet vessel, the conn station is synonymous with the ship's helm, and the term itself is short for "flight control officer." The variation of flight control officer from "Star Trek" derives from a real-world naval term. 

Conn station pilots the ship

The "Star Trek" conn officer's role parallels the real-world naval duty Officer of the Deck (OOD), which is said to be in command of a ship's "conn." The OOD directs the ship's conn, controlling its speed, course, and movements. The term "conn" derives from the "conning tower," the tower on a naval vessel that houses its bridge.

Much like its real-world counterpart, in the world of "Star Trek," "conn" is used both to refer to the duties of a ship's navigator and to the physical station where the helmsperson controls the flight path. The Doctor references a shortened version of the job title during a conversation with Tom Paris while tending to the wounded pilot during his stay in the brig in the "Star Trek: Voyager" episode, "Thirty Days." Recounting another officer's fancy evasive maneuvers during Paris's absence, the Doctor advises Tom that Captain Janeway is considering Ensign Culhane as Paris's replacement for chief conn officer. Leaving little doubt about what this role entails, Tom replies, "You'd think he'd never flown a shuttle, much less a starship." 

Also in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode, "11001001," Captain Jean-Luc Picard refers to the station itself as the "conn" when stepping into the helm seat for a spell. "It's been some time since I had the Conn," the Captain muses to Riker.