A station is a location of operation to which a vessel or grouping of vessels is assigned. The location may be a fixed point (as with a light ship), a defined zone (as with a patrol vessel) or a relative location to another vessel (as in a convoy).
For vessels maintaining a fixed station (i.e., lightships, offshore oil rigs), they may navigated so as to maintain a position within the accuracy and ability afforded to the crew. If any amount of precision is required, however, the vessel will have to be moored or maintained on station through dynamic positioning (DP) equipment. In some cases, DP systems may be used to augment the passive mooring - for example, offshore oil rigs in harsh weather environments.
For vessels maintaining an operational zone (i.e., escort, standby or patrol vessels), the ability of the vessel to stay on station is a function of its loiter ability. For designing such a vessel, the anticipated conditions and requirements of the vessel on station should be well detailed in the mission profile documentation.
For ships involved in a task force, fleet, or convoy, maintaining station requires the vessel to be able to maintain position relative to other vessels. A ships manovreability and speed in a seaway must be sufficiently close or exceed the capabilities of counterparts. Picket vessels can have particularly ardeous requirements, requiring the economy to operate with and about the other ships, as well as the speed and cability to respond to threats.