In the Star Trek: TOS episode The Doomsday Machine, the Enterprise encounters the USS Constellation, where the last surviving crew member is Commodore Matt Decker.

We are all familiar with the typical Star Trek insignia on their uniforms, but Commodore Decker has a different design:

Commodore Matt Decker

Is there an in universe reason given for the different insignia? Note that I am not after out of universe answers, or the obvious "because the writers hadn't decided to standardise on the insignia from the Enterprise for Starfleet".


6 Answers 6


The primary source of information on this is from Memory Alpha's Starfleet insignia page. In the early 23rd century, uniforms only displayed "individual crewperson's assignment patch". By the late 2270's, all individual patches were phased out in favor of the USS Enterprise's assignment patch.

A great deal of fan fiction and other non-canon sources speculate that the Starfleet-wide adoption of the Enterprise emblem was probably to honor the ship and her crew for their successful and historic five-year mission. This has not been referenced on screen, however.

Whether or not that is true is addressed by the question, Did Starfleet(TOS) adopt the Enterprise logo after the 5 year mission?

This answer to What does the Starfleet insignia represent? shows examples of other assignment patches: https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/28861/23128

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    I always had the unfounded opinion that Matt Decker was an Old School (stubborn) Captain, thinking, " its my ship, we are out here in space, so my crew is going to wear the USS Constellation insignia until those bureaucrats at Starfleet tells us otherwise!" - of course, unsubstantiated with no canon sources, just a reflection of his character.
    – PhasedOut
    Sep 12, 2016 at 13:20

In the Star Trek The Old Series timeline, each individual ship in Starfleet had its own unique Assignment Patch.

When Enterprise completed its historic 5-year Mission, Starfleet adopted the Enterprise Assignment Patch as the Starfleet Insignia.

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    Hi Jim and welcome to the site! Can you add a reference to where you got this information? Mar 13, 2017 at 13:07

Actually the application of mission patches for different starships wasn't exactly consistent. You may remember the bar scene from "Court Martial" where "Kirk's graduation class was well represented". In that scene they all wore Enterprise style tunics with swoosh.

I think, if they needed to show commanders/captains on other ships it helped to differentiate when shooting scenes on different starships engaged in battle. Commodore Wesley in "The Ultimate Computer" battle simulation is an example where this distinction was probably needed.


Sorry, but the whole insignia different on different starfleet ships' uniforms is myth...easy mistake because of the Omega Glory controversy but in TOS, the uniform is established by producer memo. See extensive explanation and contemporary documents. http://www.startrek.com/article/starfleet-insignia-explained

Of note: starbases and fleet rank individuals (commodore and above) where given fleet level insignia.

Decker is a flag level officer assigned a ship command and is given an insignia similar to other fleet level officers (commodores & admirals) in that it is a single petal of the fleet insignia. On memory alpha they show a command star in that insignia - not sure if it is really present in production stills. (Note we never see ANY of Decker's crew.)

Unlike Commodore Bob Wesley, who was only in temporary command of the Lexington, Matt Decker is a Flag Officer with permanent field command of a starship. In fact, he's the only Flag Officer we see in Star Trek with a field command. As a consequence of Commodore Decker's rank and status as Commander of the U.S.S. Constellation (his Flagship), he wears the Fleet Command Insignia denoting his status as a Flag Officer in the field. If we had seen Commodore Decker's crew (may they Rest In Peace), we would have seen the delta shape insignia in use on their uniforms. Commodore Decker's own first officer would have held the rank of Captain and worn the Starship Duty Insignia.
source: Starfleet Insignia Explained
StarTrek.com - John Cooley / October 7, 2018

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    Welcome to the site. This answer would be improved if you quoted some of the relevant parts of the article.
    – amflare
    Dec 5, 2017 at 16:55
  • This is the correct answer.
    – user62584
    Oct 12, 2019 at 21:59

Since the late 70s, I always knew it as emblems for individual ships, with the "delta" specifically assigned to ONLY Enterprise. It was common knowledge to everyone who watched the reruns back then, by which I really mean "universally accepted by fans as gospel at the time," or perhaps read the tech manuals of that era.

However, the exact reasons for Starfleet adopting the Enterprise Patch emblem as the overall Starfleet Insignia beginning with TMP was a little bit more of a grey area. My assumption was that since Enterprise was inherently the only Constitution survivor and the most famous and celebrated starship in the fleet, that Starfleet made its decisions based on that.

  • Do you have evidence that Commodore Decker's insignia is specifically only for his ship?
    – Edlothiad
    Dec 18, 2017 at 14:04
  • Nothing directly in front of me that explicitly says "Matthew Decker's emblem is for Constellation." Another example that springs to mind is Commodore Robert Wesley from The Ultimate Computer on board Lexington. While it's never stated if he is posted to the starbase from which Enterprise retrieves him before wargames begin, it's possible that he was assigned there, as starbases seemed to have their own unique insignia. Ideally, it'd be great if we happened to see other Constellation crew and the crews of Wesley's battle group to definitively put this debate to rest, but we sadly never do.
    – Pat
    Dec 18, 2017 at 16:53
  • While I know many of us have adhered to the "Starship Assignment" theory, myself included for the past 4 decades, after a bit of digging, I uncovered this: startrek.com/article/starfleet-insignia-explained I think it may finally help put the debate to rest. Be sure to read the comments to the article at the bottom, as well.
    – Pat
    Dec 18, 2017 at 17:26
  • @Pat Your answer would be strengthened if you added some of the salient points (and link to the references from the link) from your comment. Without going to the comment, your answer appears speculative rather than researched.
    – Jane S
    Dec 18, 2017 at 22:03

Per William Ware Theiss, each ship has a unique insignia. He designed the uniforms for TOS.

All commodores except Matt Decker seem to be wearing the flower-like symbol; this appears to be admiralty assignment. We can rule this out, however, as JAG Lieutenant Shaw also wears this flower-insignia. So instead, it appears to be a Starfleet Command insignia or a Starbase Command major-command insignia.

The thing is, the extras from other ships and base personnel are seen in several episodes. It seems more likely that what we see are in fact assignment patches, but not to individual ships. Having them be assignment to regional fleets and/or task-oriented fleets makes more sense.

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