I wonder if educational background would factor into uniform colors. Perhaps her background was in a scientific field related to dilithium crystals, leading her to be sorted into the blueshirts, but would also naturally lead her to be in engineering.
Maybe, but you also have to account for astro-biologist Dr. Mulhall in the red division.
Nerys Myk wrote:
Do we really know that, though? I was just joking with Greg, but does a spot on the bridge, be it at helm, science, engineering or communications really mean you're qualified to take command of the ship?
While Uhura (for example only) may have rank and time served over Chekov, does she have the training or even the experience to command the ship in an emergency situation? IIRC, and guys who have served can correct me, if Chekov is placed in command by Kirk, he's pretty much in command even if Uhura out ranks him. To be in command you have to be in the chain of command. If, as a comm officer, Uhura is outside that chain her rank as irrelevant as McCoy's.
Agreed, we don't know. The qualifying distinction seems to be whether one is a line officer, which apparently Scotty is, and McCoy isn't. Whether communications officers would fall under that or not, we don't know, but I would lean toward them being in the line. In the US Navy, at least, officers in a ship's communications department are line officers.
As far as the r/w navy chain of command goes, the assigned CO is first and the assigned XO is next, regardless of rank. After that, the chain descends through the unrestricted line officers in order of rank. Of course in the midst of battle the next-ranking officer may not be immediately available, so the ranking officer who's in position to give immediate orders would be in charge until the more senior officer can be notified and take over. An example would be the USS San Francisco
in the 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, where communications officer LCdr Bruce McCandless took command after the admiral, captain, XO and other senior officers were killed. Even though there was a more senior officer aboard in the engine room, he had his hands full and didn't know till later that command had fallen to him. McCandless was awarded the Medal of Honor.