here. A similar situation occurs, although with a superior's approval, later. When Admiral Kheraskov gives Flandry his first command, he concludes:
"'Your ship is in Mars orbit. Departure will be immediate. I hope you can fake the knowledge of her you don't have, until you've gathered it...'"
-Poul Anderson, Young Flandry (New York, 2010), p. 389.
Kheraskov has already said that the ship has an able executive officer and that this should free Flandry's attention for his real job, which is Intelligence, not Captaincy. "Faking it" it is part of the job but it is coping and learning rather than fakery.
When I was a newly qualified Careers Adviser, the receptionist took a call from a woman asking about a career of which I had no knowledge as yet. My first responsibility was to my internal client, the receptionist. I had to say, "Put her through," not "I don't know about that!" Meanwhile, I was starting to find the named career in the index of my Occupations reference book. When speaking to the enquirer, I made written notes of exactly what she needed to know. First step: identify client needs; do not worry at this stage about whether you know the answers. Then I could maybe tell her something over the phone but could also note her name and address and promise to post her printed careers information. Second stage: address needs. Third stage: positive outcome.
Flandry's job is much more difficult than careers guidance but his abilities to cope and to improvise are also immeasurably greater.