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I assume Kirk (and his crew) have got to get some rest after a long day of investigating new planets and hassling other ships in space, so who is flying the Enterprise when Kirk and his crew are asleep?

Not concerned with what the crew does on duty, but rather what someone else does when Kirk's crew is off duty.

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It might not be canon, but Robot Chicken had a great answer: – joshbirk Jul 24 '14 at 16:54
up vote 13 down vote accepted

As on any ship, be that merchant or military they would have shifts or "watches" usually 8 hours on 8 hours off. There would be Officers of the Watch (OOW) who would have command while the Captain slept. If anything happened that the OOW decided needed to be escalated he would wake the Captain and have him come to the bridge.

You see this in the TNG Thine Own Self when Counsellor Troi decides to take the exam to qualify as a watch officer after finding out that Doctor Crusher was in command one time.

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The TNG episode you refer to is 'Thine Own Self': – ElendilTheTall Jul 24 '14 at 9:34
@ElendilTheTall: I integrated the link into the question. – Einer Jul 24 '14 at 14:41
The best one was the retcon in the books of how Checkov recognized Khan in The Wrath of Khan, since Checkov wasn't in the TOS until the season after the Khan episode. In a couple of the books, he was established as the night shift bridge watch officer at that time, allowing him to therefore know who Khan was. – BBlake Jul 24 '14 at 18:00
Memory Alpha has a whole page on duty shifts, which I found after remembering that Harry Kim was the watch officer in an episode or two of Voyager. – Pops Jul 30 '14 at 6:34

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