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If the USS Voyager had met the USS Equinox earlier in the series & for whatever reason the Equinox's crew joined Voyager's crew (like Chakotay & his crew did), who would be in charge between the two Starfleet captains, Janeway or Ransom?

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According to regulations: Janeway. According to star trek tropes: Janeway. According to personality: Janeway. According to sfdebris: Janeway. According to Chakotay: Janeway. Given her regular reasoning patterns on the show, Janeway would claim command and if it wasn't given to her: Janeway. –  ivy_lynx Jul 23 at 18:29
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In the original series, visiting commodores and admirals didn't take command of the Enterprise as long as Kirk was still on board. They might give Kirk orders, but Kirk is still in command of the ship. –  Keith Thompson Jul 23 at 21:16
    
And the question of why to ivy_lynx's comment: Because Janeway. –  Paul Richter Jul 23 at 23:50
    
@KeithThompson See also: The Pegasus, which has some great rank/power dynamics. An admiral comes on board the Enterprise D and gives it a special mission. Picard becomes concerned about the safety of the Enterprise, and flatly tells the admiral that he will disobey the admiral's orders if they endanger the ship. –  Boann Jul 24 at 13:44
    
I don't think a Captain can command more than one ship so Ransom will stay Captain, and Janeway gets promoted to Admiral. –  Tasos Jul 27 at 4:56

8 Answers 8

up vote 45 down vote accepted

Janeway.

Janeway is in charge of the Voyager. If the crew of the Equinox would join with the Voyager's crew as the crew of the Val Jean did, Janeway would still be in charge of the Voyager - that is her command granted by Starfleet. Ransom was not given command of the Voyager. He may have the same rank as Janeway but his ship is the Equinox. If he decides to abandon it (for whatever reason) he is no longer captaining any ship - and surely not the Voyager.

If the Equinox wouldn't be abandoned, Janeway would still be in charge as stated in that very episode:

JANEWAY: Normally I'd agree, but right now one of our ships in vulnerable. Chakotay's right, we should make our stand on Voyager.

RANSOM: I don't want to force the issue, but I am prepared to return to the Equinox with my crew. What is the protocol in this situation? We have two Captains and two ships. Who gets the last word?

JANEWAY: Starfleet Regulation one hundred ninety one, Article fourteen. In a combat situation involving more than one ship, command falls to the vessel with tactical superiority. I looked it up this morning.

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@Xantec He would have tried, that's for sure! But Janeway is a hard headed woman (no-one can dispute that). It isn't his position to decide, who is first officer on Janeways ship. He can stage a mutiny, and there is a slight chance that he will prevail. But that's material for a holodeck novel. Please do write it, before someone less well intentioned as you does it! ;-) –  Einer Jul 23 at 17:40
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Unfortunately my holodeck is in need of repairs. –  Xantec Jul 23 at 17:50
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@Einer - in the single ship scenario: could Ransom claim seniority if he had held the rank (not post) of Captain longer than Janeway? This is how an officer of Engineers took over at Rorke's Drift - but Army might be different to Navy/StarFleet. –  HorusKol Jul 23 at 23:19
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@einer once she accepts him into her command, rank hath its privileges. Being 1st officer by default falls to the second highest ranking line officer. –  aramis Jul 24 at 0:35
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@HorusKol He might claim rank superiority, but it doesn't make the ship his to command. Throughout all of star trek, it isn't unusual for captains to ignore orders of ranking officers (admirals and such) if it would endanger the ship. The ship is commanded by it's captain, regardless of who is aboard, even if that person can technically command the captain him/herself. And while on board the ship, the captain can make a decision to ignore orders if necessary to protect the ship and it's crew. –  Doc Jul 24 at 13:58

My understanding of Real Life military is thus: whoever has held the rank longer is considered to be senior. Memory Alpha states that seniority is one of several factors in determining who is the ranking officer.

According to Memory Alpha, Janeway took command of Voyager in 2371. It does not state when Ransom was promoted, but it seems to be prior to that date.

There is the aforementioned Regulation 191 which states: In a combat situation involving more than one ship, command falls to the vessel with tactical superiority, should there not be a higher ranking officer present. (VOY: "Equinox")

Memory Alpha states regarding that regulation: In the novelization, Janeway admits to herself she made the regulation up.

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Janeway admits to herself she made the regulation up. +1 just for that gem. What a smegger! I bet there's no regulation to blow up everything that could possibly help you get home too. –  Crow T Robot Jul 23 at 19:12
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As the remark about the regulation being made up only appeared in a novelization, and the dialogue has her even cite the exact number of the regulation, it seems rather unlikely that it could actually be made up and she could get through with that. –  O. R. Mapper Jul 23 at 21:25
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@O.R.Mapper I agree that novelizations aren't considered canon in Trek, just the show. I just found that in my research and wanted to be thorough in my report. I should note that some people consider VOY novelizations by Jeri Taylor as semi-canonical due to her status on the show, however, this novelization was written by Diane Carey. –  pleurocoelus Jul 24 at 0:52
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If this happened in The Real World, the commanding officer of the ship upon which both crews were embarked would still be the commanding officer of that vessel, regardless of seniority or higher rank of any other officer present. Command responsibility is granted when an officer is ordered to be the commanding officer of a vessel/unit/whatever, and cannot be changed by circumstances. If the joining officer has command responsibility over that particular ship, he/she/it retains said responsibility when embarked - but the CO of the ship is still the CO of the ship. –  Bob Jarvis Jul 24 at 11:12
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If Regulation 191 would really be worded that way, it would be a pretty bad regulation. "Tactical Superiority" is not something that is always clear cut. It depends on the overall strategy and it may change several times during a hostile encounter. In reality, it would lead to endless arguing and power-grabbing, commanders not following orders because they "felt they had tactical superiority", and so on. It would be a disaster. –  Twinkles Jul 25 at 8:18

To add to all the other correct answers that state that Janeway would retain command, the term "Captain" in naval military terms can be both a rank, and a title independant of one's rank. It is not uncommon for someone to hold the title of Captain, but not the rank. In this situation the person who holds command authority over the vessel in question (Voyager) would be whomever was assigned as the commanding officer in the first place. There's very few situations where a commanding officer would lose and or give up that position, the most obvious one is the completion of their orders. Military orders have a finite timeframe (for CO's it's usually between 3-5 years) during that timeframe all power and authority of command of the vessel resides with that one person regardless of the rank of all other individuals onboard. Those orders would come from Starfleet Command and therefore supercede all other orders given by a lower ranking office.

To add a bit of personal touch, I myself am currently serving as an enlisted member of the US Coast Guard, and it's not uncommon to have a vessel commanded by an enlisted member, which may have a commisioned officer onboard from time to time (for training of said officer in ship handling, area familiarization etc.) Regardless of the division between officer and enlisted members whomever holds the title of Officer in Charge/Commanding Officer is the one in charge. I've heard several stories of junior enlisted members having to give senior officers orders to maintane ship stability in emergency situations.

TL;DR: Rank =/= Command, assignment orders do!

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The part that pertains directly to the question is in the middle of a big paragraph (and I was ready to downvote/comment because I couldn't find it at first); perhaps break it out somehow? –  Izkata Jul 24 at 23:55
    
@Izkata I can highlight the core of my answer if that helps? However, I feel the entire first paragraph pertains to the question at hand. –  Monty129 Jul 25 at 12:59
    
Completely up to you; no one else has downvoted or anything, so it might just be me –  Izkata Jul 25 at 15:13

Given that Captain Janeway belays orders given by her future Admiral self in Endgame - and basically reminds her (on the bridge in front of the whole crew no less) who's Captain on Her Ship - I'd say Janeway would be captain for sure. And, of course, as @ivy_lynx said: She's Janeway!

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I would say that Janeway retains command of the ship. Even in the case that another officer joining the crew outranks her, she still retains command of the ship. The outranking officer, however, has command of Janeway.

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But unless he's a complete idiot that never should have been given the rank he holds, he'd restrict his commands to the overall strategic picture and leave the vast majority of the day-to-day stuff to her. –  Shadur Jul 24 at 8:26
    
@Shadur: Yes, that's pretty much what I had in mind as well –  MPW Jul 24 at 10:41
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Re: "The outranking officer...has command of Janeway" - maybe, maybe not. If the outranking officer has command of a unit with authority over Janeway's unit, THEN AND ONLY THEN does the ranking officer have any authority. Otherwise, said ranking officer is, for all practical purposes, cargo - he's onboard the vessel but holds no authority over the vessel. This is a very common situation, e.g. where a senior officer is being transported somewhere to assume command of something. He may travel IN a vessel and will be accorded all rights and privileges due his rank, but he's NOT IN CHARGE. –  Bob Jarvis Jul 24 at 11:19

I would relate this to a similar situation in a different universe.

When Galactica met Pegasus in the new series, Admiral Cain get command on the fleet at large, but Adama kept command on his spaceship. All orders from Cain passed through him, and were given to his crew by him, even if he were not in position to do any otehr thing than to obey the orders.

Cain being Admiral was still unable to remove Adama from the command of Galactica, this is why she tried to assasinate him, using the people loyal to her that was transferred to Galactica as a result of her orders.

Later on, when the Pegasus was destroyed and all its crew moved to the Galactica, there were no grounds for conflict, since Adama/Apollo (Leland Adama) was of a lower rank than Adama/Husker (William Adama), but if the situation would have been reversed, with Galactica destroyed and Pegasus surviving, Leland Adama would have still being Commanding Officer on the Pegasus, and William Adama would have been Admiral without ship. It is probable that in that case Apollo would have resigned, but that's apart.

So, Janeway would retain command of the Voyager, in any case and situation, but she may have to obey orders from her superiors.

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Had this happened earlier in the series (let's not forget it is there to entertain us) then no doubt we would see some power struggles between Janeway and Ransom. And perhaps with the "criminal" Chakotay caught in the middle - now that I would have liked to see - throw in a baddie like Seska into the equation and we could have seen a lot of interesting dynamics.

Janeway would obviously still command her own vessel, but Ransom would have had more than one occasion to question her actions. For example:

  • Destroying the array itself. It might be fine when Janeway made the decision to do it alone, but if Ransom had a different opinion how many starfleet/marquis crew would back him? (for this to work, Ransom would have had to be planning to return to the array)
  • Forming an alliance with the Borg (and let's face it - that did result in the assimilation of almost all of Arturis' species)
  • Executing Tuvix, unleasing the Vaadwaur, etc etc

In the end though, Ransom would submit to Janeway's authority. The dictates of poetics state that a character's actions must flow inexorably from his or her established traits. In Equinox pt 2, Ransom in the end became the good guy again, no doubt he would behave the same in this alternate voyager series.

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Monty129 has the best answer. In the Royal Canadian Navy, the position of captain of a vessel is conferred for a contractual term, typically to officers with the rank of commander for our destroyers and frigates (commander in french is capitaine de frigate).

The captain of the ship has ultimate say in all matters of the vessel during normal peacetime situations, with very few exceptions, and visiting fleet commanders are just that - visitors.

The Admiral Cain comparison noted by Evite applies to BSG because they are at war. However, even in war time, the regular chain of command is still there. For example, we wouldn't expect Admiral Nimitz in Pacific Theatre to give a command to General Patton in the Western European Theatre.

In this case, Starfleet is not at war, so regulations will be similar to the USN or RCN in the future, then Janeway cannot be relieved, irregardless of the rank or seniority of another Starfleet officer.

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