General quarters is a command used aboard Federation starships in the 23rd century, and was the command to prepare for battle as a stage in the red alert that signifies that all personnel must take their battle stations. However, the term can also be applied to other situations and conditions.
There are several different levels of General Quarters, a term describing the crew's readiness for combat aboard the vessel itself. On Starfleet vessels, the degree of readiness ranges from General Quarters One through Six, sometimes called Security One through Six. Each level has its own tactics to protect the ship and its personnel from capture or destruction. As with other procedures, the preparations for General Quarters are modified occasionally to take new technology and security procedures into consideration.
- General Quarters 1: This level always occurs when the starship is on Yellow Alert. There is no obvious change in the ship's routine, though one Security Officer may be stationed on the bridge. All Security Officers are issued Phaser II sidearms from the ship's armories. Phaser sidearms are locked on stun.
- General Quarters 2: This level always occurs when the ship is on Red Alert. One or two Security Officers are stationed on the bridge, and one to four Security Officers take up stand-by positions on each non-engineering deck. Fully equipped detachments of four or more Security Officers each may be sent to the transporter rooms and hangar bays. (FASA RPG module: Star Fleet Intelligence Manual: Agent's Orientation Sourcebook)
- Security Condition 3: This condition indicates that a starship's security has been breached and there is an intruder aboard. This condition is also described as "intruder alert". (TOS episodes: "The Man Trap", "Dagger of the Mind", "The Lights of Zetar") Pairs of armed Security Officers patrol every corridor on every deck. Two Security Officers are stationed on the bridge, and the bridge Communications Officer routinely checks corridors via audio-visual or infrared sensor monitors. If the ship is so equipped, its Automatic Bridge Defense System is activated. Phaser sidearms are locked on heavy stun. (FASA RPG module: Star Fleet Intelligence Manual: Agent's Orientation Sourcebook)
- Security Condition 4: This condition means that all corridors should be evacuated and sealed off, and all weapons are to be taken account of. (TOS episode: "The Man Trap") This level and above are reserved for major boarding attacks or hijackings. Pairs of armed Security Officers wearing security armor patrol every corridor on every deck. Security Officers are dispatched to guard sensitive areas, including the bridge, auxiliary bridge, engineering, hangar bay, and life support. The hangar bay doors are usually locked shut, and some security bulkheads may be closed, isolating selected areas of the ship. Phaser sidearms may be set to kill.
- General Quarters 5: All turbo elevators are shut down, and all security-bulkheads and hangar bay doors are closed. Security Officers are issued personal breathing apparatus, and some or all decks may be flooded with neural gas, a powerful, fast-acting tranquilizer.
- General Quarters 6: Vents from the engineering fusion chambers are opened, releasing fatal quantities of radioactive gas throughout most decks of the ship. Total crew casualties may run as high as 70%.
- Starfleet Regulation 2005 is sometimes called General Quarters 7. This regulation outlines some of the criteria used to determine when a starship's senior officers should implement the vessel's computerized self-destruct system. (FASA RPG module: Star Fleet Intelligence Manual: Agent's Orientation Sourcebook)