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Old December 18 2012, 05:45 PM   #1
The Green Mushroom
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Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

As the thread title suggests, the more I think about it the more it seems to me that Starfleet isn't the U.S. or Royal Navy in space. It is the U.S. Coast Guard in space.

In the U.S. Coast Guard, there are many small boat stations and small cutters where there are no commissioned officers and the station/cutter is commanded by a Chief or a warrant officer. There even, I believe, some larger cutters where the chief engineer isn't a commissioned officer but a lifelong enlisted man who has spent his career fixing engines.

When (most) people join the Coast Guard, they are sent to a cutter or station right after basic training and work for as long as two years before heading to school to be trained for a specific job. Some are called Seamen and work on the boat deck. Some are called Firemen and work with engines. The rest become Airmen and work at air stations. But on a cutter or at a small boat station, seamen and firemen can all go on boarding parties, and apply for or even serve an apprenticeship for any available job. Those that end up as Boatswain's Mates (BM) continue to work on the deck, lead boarding parties, navigate the boats, etc. At some point, a BM who makes chief may become eligible for command.

Starfleet has shades of much of that, at least to me.
  • If nothing else, Stafleet's mission of law enforcement, defense, search and rescue, humanitarian aid, science, etc. is not all that different from the Coast Guard where a ship can arrest smugglers one day, escort a missile submarine the next day, and protect fisheries on a third.
  • Junior Officers (including Worf, Wesley, LaForge, Chekov) are given command uniforms and then allowed to work in several departments until making a decision. They are not all that different from first and second year Coast Guardsmen working under a BM before choosing/being assigned a rate.
  • People stay in the career field and move up the ranks that way. A Coast Guard enlisted engineer never has to move into another job to be promoted. Scot and LaForge can stay as career engineers because they are not expected to move up into command despite their ranks. Though I understand that there are a few navies that have engineering officers who don't ever take command of the boat.
  • Though I admit it makes no sense on a ship with a crew in the hundreds to send their command cadres on every single away mission, Coast Guard leaders will often lead boarding parties to keep in practice. I also remember a few years ago that the commander of the local Coast Guard station was fired in part because it turned out that he could not drive all of the boats at his station. Apparently, at least in some part of the USCG if you cannot perform a mission you cannot lead that mission.
If you can get past the fact that there are seemingly few enlisted men (which I can by thinking police officer when someone calls himself a Starlfeet officer) and the fact that mid-career changes in specialty happen, Starfleet seems more like the Coast Guard than the Navy.
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Old December 18 2012, 06:12 PM   #2
Use of Time
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

Except that the Coast Guard doesn't fight full scale wars like the Dominion War for example.
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Old December 18 2012, 06:33 PM   #3
MacLeod
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

Royal Navy vessels intercept drug smuggling

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11553229

Royal Navy protects ships

Drifting Cargo

http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/News-and...-pirate-waters

Royal Navy protects Fishery vessels

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishery...ction_Squadron

And of course the Royal Navy fights in battles/wars when called upon

Perhaps the US Navy leaves that sort of thing to the US Coast Guard, but as the Royal Navy does that it would appear that Starfleet operates in a similar fashion to the Royal Navy.
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Old December 18 2012, 09:22 PM   #4
BillJ
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

Use of Time wrote: View Post
Except that the Coast Guard doesn't fight full scale wars like the Dominion War for example.
Yeah. Starfleet is every branch of the service rolled into one, except they aren't the military.
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Old December 18 2012, 09:35 PM   #5
C.E. Evans
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

Starfleet has a lot of similarities with various Earth navies, but some differences too. It doesn't do everything the same way that they did.
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Old December 18 2012, 09:43 PM   #6
MacLeod
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

No matter how they want to dress it up, Starfleet performs military functions.

Sure it's primary mission might be seek out new life and new civilisations etc.. but it's secondary mission is the protection of the Federation.
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Old December 18 2012, 10:13 PM   #7
The Wormhole
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

Not to get too nitpicky or anything, but everything we've seen Starfleet do can be and has been done by most navies or other military branches today. The only notable difference is that Starfleet has a larger science division than navies/militaries of today. But this is a necessity of operating in space, not proof that they any less of a military.

The Green Mushroom wrote: View Post
Junior Officers (including Worf, Wesley, LaForge, Chekov) are given command uniforms and then allowed to work in several departments until making a decision. They are not all that different from first and second year Coast Guardsmen working under a BM before choosing/being assigned a rate.
This example means nothing given that three of the junior officers you cited were helm/navigation, which is a command officer's post.
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Old December 18 2012, 10:21 PM   #8
Nerys Myk
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

BillJ wrote: View Post
Use of Time wrote: View Post
Except that the Coast Guard doesn't fight full scale wars like the Dominion War for example.
Yeah. Starfleet is every branch of the service rolled into one, except they aren't the military.
Including NOAA and the PHS.
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Old December 18 2012, 10:44 PM   #9
Star Wolf
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

Use of Time wrote: View Post
Except that the Coast Guard doesn't fight full scale wars like the Dominion War for example.
But then they do fight in full scale wars like the First and Second World Wars. Now the Navy might not assign a cutter to the line of battleships about to face the Yamato but they did perform missions from convoy escort to being part of the Marine and Army landing fleets.
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Old December 18 2012, 11:06 PM   #10
Spike730
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

A Coast Guard enlisted engineer never has to move into another job to be promoted
Which, I think, is also true for the US Navy.
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Old December 19 2012, 03:34 AM   #11
nightwind1
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

Use of Time wrote: View Post
Except that the Coast Guard doesn't fight full scale wars like the Dominion War for example.
Wrong.

During wartime, the USCG is attached to the Department of the Navy. At least it was in '88-'93, when I was a Petty Officer. Nowadays, it's under Homeland Security, so I'm not 100% sure it would still be attached to Navy.

When I was a Coastie, I actually wrote an article for potential submission to a Trek fanzine doing a comparison of Starfleet/USCG.

Unfortunately, I don't think I can find the 5.25" floppy the article was stored on.
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Old December 19 2012, 03:39 AM   #12
nightwind1
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

Star Wolf wrote: View Post
Use of Time wrote: View Post
Except that the Coast Guard doesn't fight full scale wars like the Dominion War for example.
But then they do fight in full scale wars like the First and Second World Wars. Now the Navy might not assign a cutter to the line of battleships about to face the Yamato but they did perform missions from convoy escort to being part of the Marine and Army landing fleets.

Original official caption: "DOUGLAS A. MUNRO
HERO OF GUADALCANAL POSTHUMOUSLY AWARDED THE UNITED STATES MEDAL OF HONOR"

Douglas A. Munro, Signalman First Class, U.S. Coast Guard, of Cle Elum, Washington, died heroically on Guadalcanal, September 27, 1942. He volunteered and successfully led five Higgins boats from the seaplane tender BALLARD to evacuate a detachment of Marines from a point where enemy opposition developed beyond anticipated dimensions. Munro's last words were 'Did they get off?'
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Old December 19 2012, 05:23 AM   #13
KamenRiderBlade
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

As far as I'm concerned.

Starfleet is a multi-discipline arm of the UFP.

It's one part Coast Guard
One part military
One part exploration
One part Diplomacy Corp.
One part research group
One part Engineering force.
Etc.
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Old December 19 2012, 05:43 AM   #14
R. Star
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

One of Starfleet's purposes is national defense. No matter how much Roddenberry is in denial about it, that means it's a military.
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Old December 19 2012, 03:00 PM   #15
The Wormhole
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Re: Starfleet is the U.S. Coast Guard

KamenRiderBlade wrote: View Post
As far as I'm concerned.

Starfleet is a multi-discipline arm of the UFP.

It's one part Coast Guard
One part military
One part exploration
One part Diplomacy Corp.
One part research group
One part Engineering force.
Etc.
The US Coast Guard is a branch of the military, and everything else on that list can be done by the military and has. Even diplomacy, as there are times when foreign VIPs are ferried by military aircraft or navy boats. Constantly splitting hairs about "Starfleet is more than a military, Starfleet is multi-disciplined," and so on are unnecessary. Starfleet is the military, period. I don't care what Roddenberry said.
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