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Picard has been in the captain's chair of at least 3 Federation starships, and serving as such for multiple years. He was the commanding officer of the USS Stargazer, the USS Enterprise D, and the USS Enterprise E.

For how many years has Jean Luc Picard been the commanding officer of a Federation starship?

I am looking for answers with canon sources.

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Picard (according to the TNG Writer/Director's Guide) was in command of the Stargazer for 22 years. Since we know he lost command in 2355 (with the loss of the Stargazer), that places his taking command in 2333.

DATA: Captain, he may refer to an incident which occurred nine years ago in the Maxia Zeta star system, in which an unidentified starship.

Picard assumed command of the Enterprise-D in 2364.

RALPH: What year is this?
DATA: By your calendar two thousand three hundred sixty four.

The prior intervening nine years have never been discussed in canon. The EU novel "The Buried Age" suggests that he was commanding another (unnamed) vessel for at least some of this time, during which he met Tasha Yar and Geordi La Forge.

Picard remained in command of the Enterprise-D until its destruction in 2371. He assumed command of the Enterprise-E in 2373 where he remained in command until his promotion to Admiral in 2381. It's reasonable to assume that he wasn't commanding a ship, nor would have have had command of a single vessel after that point, up until his retirement.


Picard's total time in command of his three canonically known vessels is (22 + 7 + 8 =) 37ish years. If you factor in possible temporary commands he could have held between the destruction of his primary vessels, this may be as much as 42 years.

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    22 + 7 + 6 = 35. Having said that, the Enterprise-E apparently spent almost a year in space on a shakedown cruise, prior to the events of First Contact in 2373. So if we factor that in, the correct calculation is probably 22 + 7 + 7 = 36. Either way, you still got my upvote. :-) – LogicDictates Oct 1 '20 at 9:43
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    @I'mwithMonica - Good question. Picard and the crew spend a reasonable amount of time in various time loops. – Valorum Oct 1 '20 at 13:35
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    Stargazer, destroyed, Enterprise-D, destroyed, Enterprise-E, destroyed. Hmmm, I'm sensing a pattern here. – Peter M Oct 1 '20 at 15:37
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    @James - I assumed it was trashed at the end of Nemesis but apparently there were deleted scenes showing it being towed away and refitted. – Valorum Oct 1 '20 at 17:08
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    @PeterM The Stargazer was abandoned, not destroyed. – user89104 Oct 1 '20 at 20:24
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It depends on which sources you check.

50+ Years

According to this bio summary Picard was in command of Starfleet vessels for more than 50 years and served in Starfleet during seven decades. Counting from his years at Starfleet Academy until he retired as an admiral (Entered the academy at age 18 in 2323, and retired in 2385.), he devoted 62 years to Starfleet.

The bio summary mentions these commands, which add up to 39 years.

  • 22 years as CO of the USS Stargazer (2333 to 2355)
  • 17 years combined as the CO of the USS Enterprise-D and USS Enterprise-E (2364 to 2381)

Picard was CO of another vessel between his commands of the Stargazer and Enterprise-D, but we don't know which vessel he commanded during those years. He only mentioned it in an offhand remark in the ST:TNG episode, Legacy. There are only 9 years between Stargazer and Enterprise-D, which is not quite the 11 more years required to say he was CO for 50 years. That means Picard was CO of some vessel for at least 2 years after his promotion to admiral in 2381.

From 39 to 47 Years

Checking other sources gives different numbers.

  • He was CO of the USS Stargazer from 2333 to 2355. (22 years)
  • He was CO of an unnamed vessel between his commands of the Stargazer and Enterprise-D. (Length of tenure is unknown, but could be from 1 year to 9 years.)
  • He was CO of the USS Enterprise-D from 2364 to 2371. (7 years)
  • This says Picard was CO of the Enterprise-E from 2372 to 2381. (9 years)
  • Promoted to admiral sometime between 2381 and 2385, so he was probably not CO of any vessel during after his promotion.
  • He retired in 2385. (This page says he retired in 2385, which was 14 years before his actions in the TV series, ST:Picard.)

The minimum number of years is 39. The maximum is 47.

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  • The minimum number of years is 38, based on the numbers you listed (22 + 7 + 9). It appears Picard was not in command of a vessel between 2371 and 2372. – LogicDictates Oct 2 '20 at 23:59

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