In "The Deadly Years," much of the crew is afflicted with a strange sort of radiation that causes them to age rapidly. Commodore Stocker is aboard and concerned about the dwindling capacity of Captain Kirk, both mental and physical. So, a competency hearing is held. Ignoring (in my opinion) the silliness of having a competency hearing in the middle of a medical emergency, why couldn't Stocker simply relieve Kirk and take over the ship? I mean, McCoy most certainly could have relieved Kirk if he absolutely felt the need to (and probably should have before the competency hearing, since it was kind of obvious Kirk wasn't really fit for command any longer). Why, then, couldn't a commodore?

Obviously I'm looking for an-universe reason.

  • As far as I know, he can of course, as senior officer, relieve the captain of command and take over, but he'd better be ready to justify his actions with his superiors when it's all over, as everything gets logged for posterity. - hence the hearing. – Paulie_D Sep 16 '17 at 18:08
  • A commanding officer could relieve a low ranked enlistee without cause, but I doubt even an admiral can relieve a commanding officer without cause. – RichS Sep 16 '17 at 18:58

In the military there is a saying that might shed some light on this: "Appointment supersedes rank."

As Memory Alpha notes (and I believe they're basing this on the U.S. Navy chain of command) a Commodore commands groups of ships.

So, the trick would be to determine whether the Commodore was officially in charge of a group of ships of which the Enterprise was a part of.

In the case of the episode 'The Deadly Years', Commodore Stocker is NOT in a position of command over the Enterprise. He is a guest--a passenger--enroute to his new command on Starbase 10.

Therefore, it would remain for the chain of command within the Enterprise to determine Kirk's fitness (McCoy's duty as Chief Medical Officer, but this could be requested by a senior officer, too) and then if he is determined unfit (which he was) the second-in-command becomes the acting (lacking) 'Captain'.

In the episode Commodore Stocker orders Spock to begin a competency hearing: this is a bit of a stretch (he'd likely not need to do so at all; although, his input and advice would likely be sought out given his role--but, the senior crew of the Enterprise would not likely be obligated to do so).

Also in the episode Stocker takes command: this would be highly unlikely as the Commodore is a passenger on a ship with an established chain-of-command that he and every one else would be aware of (Some of this is, of course, speculation because I don't believe such details of the chain-of-command were specifically set-out in the ST universe or canon...but, I could be wrong here).

Link to Memory Alpha: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Commodore

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