In television and movies we have a very familiar bridge command structure: the captain gives orders like "shields up", "fire primary weapons", or "transfer power to sublight". I think this trope was probably first established with Star Trek, but it appears in everything from Stargate to Star Wars to Battlestar Galactica.
For day-to-day operations this seems fine, but in crisis situations (including but not limited to combat, disaster relief, search and rescue, etc) a starship of any appreciable size (assume crew of 200+) would need to react in a hundred different ways to a hundred different situations very quickly. Far faster than any one bridge commander, or even a group of system operators, could receive information and then issue an order in response.
EDIT: see this youtube video for a good example of the trope I'm referring to.
So my question is this:
What would be the optimum way for a starship to organize itself and its crew in a crisis situation while still maintaining a strong chain of command?
For the ship in question, I'll give the following assumptions:
- The crew is large, but not massive. Say, between 200 and 800 crew members. (Larger than a Firefly/YT-1300, but smaller than the Executor).
- The ship is equipped for the type of crisis it is encountering and the crew is well trained in their respective roles (i.e. not a cruise ship in a combat scenario).
- Communication/automation technologies within the ship's systems are about as good as they are today. So no telepathic crew network, but auto-targeting missiles/point-defense weapons are plausible.
- The ship has a number of different systems, including but not limited to:
- Offensive weapons
- Defensive weapons
- Sublight and hyperlight engines
- Fighter/interceptor/smaller vessels on board and appropriate hangar
- Local and hyperlight communications
- Typical sci-fi sensors (scan a planet in 5 sec, can't seen in an enemy ship)
- Usual internals (lights, life support, bulkheads, security, etc)