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Old September 9 2009, 01:04 AM   #32
J.T.B.'s Avatar
Re: Mr. Spock instead of Sir or Commander

Chaos Descending wrote: View Post
J.T.B. wrote: View Post
US Navy practice until the early 1970's was for commanders and above to be addressed with their rank, lieutenant commanders and below (down to WO-1) to be addressed as "Mister (last name)," or mrs. or miss, or as "doctor" or "nurse" or "chaplain," "father" &c. as appropriate. As we know, Spock was considered a LCdr when the series began, despite his rank stripes, so "Mr. Spock" would be OK by USN tradition.
Until the early 70's nothing. It's still common practice now.
I'm not surprised. It became official to use the rank title then, but those things die hard. In my time ('88-'92) everybody called their Div-O "Mister (whatever)" but I can't remember ever hearing a female officer called miss, mrs. or ms.

IIRC, it's not in the rules, it's more Naval tradition.
Pretty much. Here are some things about the subject from official sources:

From The Naval Officer's Guide, 1944, the period when the most navy vets in TOS's day had served:
In oral communications, officers below the rank of commander may be addressed as "Mister ______," and in the case of the officers in the Medical Corps as "Doctor ______." Otherwise, their title is used to preface their name. It is generally considered improper to address a lieutenant commander as "Commander." However, the phrase "the Commander" designates the Executive Officer of the ship and him alone, even though there might be other commanders attached to the same ship.
The Bluejacket's Manual, 17th edition (1963-1967):
Naval officers with the rank of commander and above are addressed by their titles. Lieutenant commanders and below are addressed as "Mister," except women officers, who are addressed as "Miss" or "Mrs."

Medical officers are addressed by their titles or as "Doctor," if of commander rank or above, while those of the rank of lieutenant commander and below are addressed as "Doctor."
The correct response to a woman officer is "Yes, Lieutenant" or "Yes, Miss (Mrs.) Brown." Note that the title, no matter what the rank, may be used alone, while "Miss" or "Mrs." must be used with the last name.
As a general rule, use the officer's title and name. It is better to say "Yes, Commander," "No, Doctor Moriarty," "Yes, Mister Franz," than to say "Yes, sir" "No, sir." However, in long conversations you can break the monotony by using "sir" from time to time -- except with women officers who should be addressed as "ma'am."

You may address "the captain" -- that is, the commanding officer, whatever his rank -- as "Captain" without using his name. You may also address "the commander" -- that is, the executive officer, whatever his rank -- as "Commander" without adding his name.
From The Naval Officer's Guide, 10th edition (1991):
Navy regulations Art. 0810 states that, except as provided in the succeeding paragraph, every officer in the naval service shall be designated and addressed in official communications by the title of grade preceding his or her name.

In official spoken communications, officers will be addressed by their grade (as distinct from the custom prior to 1973, when officers of the grade of commander and above were addressed by their grade and those below commander were called "mister").
Whether or not it was the only reason, my guess would be that the writers did a little research, asked around, or paid attention to movies like The Caine Mutiny and got the idea that most navy officers on a ship, except the captain, were called "mister."


Last edited by J.T.B.; September 9 2009 at 01:17 AM. Reason: fixed typo
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