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52 votes
Accepted

In Star Trek (2009), was Chekov actually wrong for calling Spock "Commander" instead of "Captain"?

Commander and Captain are (in current Naval practice) both ranks, but "Captain" is also a job. One can be "the Captain" (commanding officer) without holding the rank of Captain (...
Andrew's user avatar
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50 votes

Why are all Starfleet ships commanded by Captains?

The Memory Alpha article on Starfleet Captains makes several references to Junior Captains, those who've commanded a Starfleet vessel but don't yet hold the rank of 'Captain'. Commander Riker, ...
Valorum's user avatar
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44 votes

In the TNG episode "Disaster", could Worf have given an order to a higher ranking officer?

There was a similar situation in the episode The Arsenal Of Freedom. This was a first season episode. In the first season Geordi was usually on the Bridge, and there was a series of temporary Chief ...
Pete's user avatar
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34 votes
Accepted

Why is O'Brien, who operates the transporter, called “Chief” in Star Trek?

The reason O'Brien is identified as "chief" actually depends on which episode you're watching. His military rank history is a bit unclear throughout the show, but at any given point, one of two ...
KutuluMike's user avatar
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32 votes
Accepted

In Star Trek, what's the rank progression from cadet to captain?

While there are plenty of exceptions in the Star Trek universe, due to exceptional valor or need in dire circumstances, typically a cadet needs to graduate from the Academy before he or she can hold a ...
Praxis's user avatar
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32 votes
Accepted

In the TNG episode "Disaster", could Worf have given an order to a higher ranking officer?

There are effectively two distinct questions here. Can Worf order higher-ranked officers around? Worf has been given a direct order by the ship's First Officer; to remain in place and support injured ...
Valorum's user avatar
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31 votes
Accepted

Why would Worf be First Officer of the Enterprise?

There's a few things going on here; The position of First Officer is at the gift of the captain and doesn't necessarily go to either the next highest ranking person on the ship, nor the person who ...
Valorum's user avatar
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29 votes
Accepted

How does command get transferred on a Starfleet vessel as officers come onto or leave the bridge?

The "officer on deck" or "officer of the deck" (commonly "OOD") has "the conn" or operational control of the vessel. The conn is passed explicitly to an ...
DavidW's user avatar
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27 votes

Why is Tuvok so accepting of others calling him by his first name?

As far as I'm aware, Vulcans only have one name, or at least one commonly used name. Spock, for instance, was simply Commander Spock. T'Pol was simply (Sub-)Commander T'Pol. Generally speaking, it ...
Cadence's user avatar
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24 votes
Accepted

Do Starfleet officers retain the privileges of their rank if they time travel to other Starfleet vessels?

Yes, apparently. In Yesterday's Enterprise, for example, Captains Picard and Garrett treat each other as colleagues of equal rank, not as (Picard to Garrett), a relic of decades earlier, or as (...
Andrew's user avatar
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23 votes

Geordi's authority in Arsenal of Freedom

Geordi didn't assume command, he was given command by his superior officer. PICARD: Yes. Doctor Crusher, this is the Captain. Meet me in Transporter room three. Mister La Forge, you have command ...
Valorum's user avatar
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23 votes
Accepted

On a Starfleet vessel, what happens if there are no officers available to take the command?

In the episode DS9: Valiant, we encounter a ship that was on a training cruise. The senior staff all died and the remaining officer gave command to the highest ranked cadet. WATTERS: (tolerant) "...
Valorum's user avatar
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22 votes

Besides the famous captains, do we actually know anything any Admiral did to earn that rank?

You are confusing "actions" and "skill" with rank. A common mistake, but in a military organization, a person's rank is often dependent upon the position they hold, and not always based on their ...
psubsee2003's user avatar
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19 votes
Accepted

Are there any examples of Starfleet officers who were captains or admirals without ever having been in command of a starship or base?

Montgomery Scott achieved the rank of Captain without serving as a ship's captain. He was referred to as a Captain of Engineering while serving on the Excelsior as chief engineer while holding the ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 52k
18 votes
Accepted

How come there are no middle-aged senior officers on the Enterprise D other than Picard?

It seems the answer may simply be that Picard hand-picked his senior officers (as mentioned here, based on quotes from TNG episodes: "The Next Phase", "Legacy", "The Pegasus") - and he picked younger ...
einpoklum's user avatar
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16 votes

Why are all Starfleet ships commanded by Captains?

The ranks in Star Trek are taken from the Navy ranks. In the Navy a Captain is not only a rank but also a title. Someone does not have to be a Captain to command a naval ship. But any officer ...
old navy guy's user avatar
15 votes

In Star Trek, what's the rank progression from cadet to captain?

You have to be in the Command division to work your way to the big chair. Unless you are commanding a science vessel (like alternate future Crusher) you aren't going to captain a ship wearing ...
Jack B Nimble's user avatar
13 votes

In the TNG episode "Disaster", could Worf have given an order to a higher ranking officer?

In the real world, you have what Star Trek often alludes to: the conn Within the U.S. Coast Guard, Shipyard and U.S. Navy, the captain of a vessel typically selects a junior officer to perform the ...
Machavity's user avatar
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12 votes

Why is there a prominent cadet on Discovery?

In universe, she is probably another example of Lorca applying Regulation 139.82, allowing to conscript whatever talent he requires in a time of war. Tilly is brilliant and Lorca needs brilliance if ...
Michael Scott Shappe's user avatar
11 votes

Besides the famous captains, do we actually know anything any Admiral did to earn that rank?

I'm answering to both your original questions and to your comment "There are an awful lot of admirals with virtually no backstory. Are there any with any?"; so I'm providing also background info about ...
Sekhemty's user avatar
  • 15.2k
11 votes

How does command get transferred on a Starfleet vessel as officers come onto or leave the bridge?

When the captain of a Starfleet vessel leaves the bridge, they typically give command of the bridge to another member of their crew with a variation of the line: "You have the bridge/conn/helm.&...
LogicDictates's user avatar
10 votes

How come there are no middle-aged senior officers on the Enterprise D other than Picard?

The Enterprise is the Federation’s flagship. That’s not where you assign your middle-aged officers who have been promoted as far as they ever will be; rather it’s where you assign the rising stars who ...
Mike Scott's user avatar
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10 votes
Accepted

Why does Riker not have to be Admiral to command a fleet?

Being a Starfleet Admiral doesn't appear to be a pre-requisite for being granted command of a fleet of ships. In DS9: Sacrifice of Angels, Captain Sisko is appointed to lead the fleet (comprising ...
Valorum's user avatar
  • 702k
9 votes

Do Starfleet officers retain the privileges of their rank if they time travel to other Starfleet vessels?

Admiral Janeway travels to the past in VOY: Endgame. She's very much of the opinion that she outranks Captain Janeway and is to be obeyed. Captain Janeway defers to her (reluctantly) for most of the ...
Valorum's user avatar
  • 702k
8 votes

What are the criteria for advancing from Ensign to Lieutenant junior grade in Starfleet?

Since we witness very few promotions within Star Trek, we don't have a lot of in-universe information to work on. The show also has some oddities - there seem to be very few non-commissioned officers,...
HorusKol's user avatar
  • 46k
8 votes

What are the typical duties of Rear Admirals in Starfleet?

Starfleet (or rather Star Trek writers writing about Starfleet) tends to treat all admirals as being functionally the same, with Rear-Admirals and Vice-Admirals usually in charge of facilities ...
Valorum's user avatar
  • 702k
8 votes

In Star Trek (2009), was Chekov actually wrong for calling Spock "Commander" instead of "Captain"?

To elaborate on Valorum's comment, this has been addressed in the DS9 episode "Behind the Lines", where Commander Dax temporarily takes command of a ship. DAX: Are you two ever going to be ...
Helena's user avatar
  • 180
7 votes

Why wasn't Harry Kim promoted beyond ensign, when others like Tom Paris were multiple times?

I don't know about out-universe explainations but in-universe there are some (if not explicit) certainly logical reasons for the difference. 1) Janeway gives several field commissions when the two ...
Meddwl's user avatar
  • 71
7 votes

Are there any full commanders in yellow shirts through ST:Voyager?

You can go through this list of Starfleet Commanders and look for any in the Operations division, as they'll have gold uniforms (or the corresponding color for their time period or universe). The ...
Xantec's user avatar
  • 62.2k
6 votes

What's the origin of referring to female superior officers as "sir"?

I was a commissioned officer in the USNavy from the mid 70's onward. I reached full commander just before a medical discharge. We called other male officers of equal or lower rank as "Mr" and female ...
Bill's user avatar
  • 95

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