So, I've been rewatching Star Trek:TNG, and Miles O'Brien is there occasionally. He's a Chief in TNG, and he's a Chief in DS9. Now, I was in the Navy, and I've always assumed that rankings in the Star Trek universe were based on the Navy. But I find it difficult to think that in the 14 years (7 for TNG and 7 for DS9) that Miles would never have been promoted. Is there any in universe reason given for this?

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    He's ALWAYS referred to as "Chief". There's never a moment where he has an officer rank.
    – PiousVenom
    Feb 8, 2013 at 0:27
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    That's exactly what I meant. To a random ST writer, there may not be any reason to NOT drop the "Senior" or "Master" part of the rank for better sound. Feb 8, 2013 at 0:37
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    Anti-Irish bigotry survives into the 24th century, quite obviously.
    – John O
    Feb 8, 2013 at 0:46
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    'Transportation Chief' to 'Chief of Operations' may be a promotion.
    – Solemnity
    Feb 8, 2013 at 2:32
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    @Monty129 Sure.. But I think we can all agree that DS9 was a promotion of sorts. In a different reference world it'd be like going from managing a crew of 6 to managing an office.
    – E.T.
    Feb 10, 2013 at 7:17

1 Answer 1


According to Memory Alpha, he actually WAS promoted:

Problematic Rank History

The character of Miles O'Brien, and the exact rank he held in Star Trek, has a history of its own spanning the length of the character's existence. In thirteen years of the character's appearances, only in the last four was his rank established to be presumably Senior Chief Petty Officer (although this term was never directly used onscreen). Through various other stages of the character's development, O'Brien was referred to as a Crewman, a Lieutenant, and various script notes indicated he was a "Warrant Officer."

This is based on 1994 "Shadowplay" episode where his title is stated to be "Senior chief specialist".

However, the whole story with his ranks seems to be one confusing ball of uncertainty, covered in detail in this Memory Alpha article. He had officer ranks shown or implied at some times (being called "Lieutenant", having officers reporting to him, wearing Lieutenant's pips; and holding Tactical Office position before Enterprise-D).

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    Just watched TNG, s4e2, where Warf's father calls him a "chief petty officer, like myself."
    – Kevin
    Jun 29, 2013 at 0:44
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    In the US Navy (and services using Navy ranks), "Chief" is the form of address for a Chief Petty Officer, a Senior CPO, and a Master CPO. Therefore O'Brien plausibly could have been promoted through those grades during the shows. Edited to add: The same applies to Chief Warrant Officer grades 2 through 5. Jan 15, 2019 at 21:53
  • Just gotta say, I love the phrase "one confusing ball of uncertainty"
    – DocBon3saw
    Aug 5, 2020 at 19:53

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