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.


2 Answers 2


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.

  • 1
    The TNG episode you refer to is 'Thine Own Self': en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Thine_Own_Self_(episode) Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 9:34
  • @ElendilTheTall: I integrated the link into the question.
    – Einer
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 14:41
  • 2
    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
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 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
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 6:34
  • Parody of Star Trek crew on night shift. youtube.com/watch?v=FDLnFkFjO0U
    – RichS
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 5:56

Ships crew operates in shifts for 24 hour manning. In TNG we clearly see time frames or shifts where the command duties are executed by the chain of command (Data having the nightshift at 3AM in the TNG episode: Lessons for example).

  • 3
    There was already a six-year-old accepted answer that explained that shifts were used. I was initially puzzled that you didn't read the answer right above yours, but then... well... I saw your screen name, heh.
    – Jacob C.
    Commented May 19, 2020 at 10:28

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