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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies XI+

Star Trek Movies XI+ Discuss J.J. Abrams' rebooted Star Trek here.

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Old June 21 2010, 08:05 PM   #1
Whill
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Starfleet rank system?

Hi, I'm a long time Trek fan but new to this board. I did a few searches before asking this question and couldn't find anything.

How do the ranks work, at least in the new timeline?

My previous understanding was that after graduation from the Academy, a new officer would normally have the rank of Ensign. After a few years of service they might be made Lieutenant (junior grade or whatever).

I have no question about Kirk. After three years, he hadn't graduated, recieved a field promotion by Pike to Lieutenant (and first officer) and then was officially awarded the rank of captain at the end of the movie due to saving the Earth and the Federation. I see there is much discussion about that on this board and but that is not my question here.

And I undersand that Medical Doctors (and perhaps even other degreed professionals) may automatically get awarded a higher rank after graduation, like McCoy being Lt. Commander. No question with that.

Scotty was already a Starfleet officer by 2258. Didn't catch if he was already a Lt. Commander or if he was a Lieutenant and got promoted at the end. Either way it doesn't matter. Sulu was already a Liuetenant. The young Checkov was an Ensign. OK, cool.

My question arises from Uhura. She was definitely a cadet in 2255 when she meets Kirk. She could have been a new cadet, but I imagine that the cadets in that bar were just in Iowa on a field trip to see the Enterprise under construction. The shuttle that Pike invited Kirk to take was the shuttle for the cadets going back to San Fransisco, but also took new recruits as well - enter Kirk and Bones.

But in 2258, Uhura is referred to as Lieutenant. But she still lives in a dorm room with a roomate. I thought, maybe she had already graduated from Starfleet sometime in those three years but was working as an assistant (perhaps in the "language lab") in the Academy until a ship assignment became available. Maybe she had even graduated soon after the 2255 scenes and had already been an Ensign for a couple years and was just recently promoted to Lieutenant. Maybe she had even already served on a ship before coming back to Starfleet on Earth.

But I just re-watched the movie, and AFTER she is referred to as Lieutenant, Captain Pike calls her "Cadet" on the bridge of the Enterprise (when asking if she can understand Romulan). So which is it? I can understand if she was just a cadet and at the end she was skipped up to Lieutenant, like Kirk was skipped ahead to Captiain. And even though Ensign Checkov is a whizkid, maybe he wasn't skipped ahead because of his youth. I can buy all of that.

But then why was she referred to as Lieutenant before she was referred to as Cadet? (I guess this question also relates to why Saavik seemed to be both a cadet in officer training and also a Lieutenant in TWOK). Maybe they were on the verge of graduating. But do some cadets graduate to Ensign while others graduate strait to Lieutenant? What determines which one? Ability? That might explain Uhura and Saavik skipping Ensign, but if so, I would think that Checkov would be Lieutenant too. Maturity? That would explain Checkov not being Lieutenant, but haven't there been older Ensigns portrayed?

Please help.
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Old June 21 2010, 08:12 PM   #2
OneBuckFilms
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

She's a Cadet, and due to academic performance has earned her way to Lieutenant.

Cadet is not a rank, but an assignment state, and from what I can tell, your academic performance as a Cadet partially leads to a rank.

Chekov may be an Ensign due to a lack of leadership qualities. A virtual genius in terms of capabilities, but with no leadership skills to warrant a rank increase.
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Old June 21 2010, 08:12 PM   #3
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

In TOS *and* this film, Kirk received the rank of Lieutenant upon graduation from the Academy. Uhura could have gotten the same thing.
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Old June 21 2010, 08:35 PM   #4
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

It was said in TOS that Kirk had earned the rank of lieutenant while at the academy - I'm guessing that's where they got that from in STXI (I think he was a lieutenant before Pike promoted him to first officer). I'm guessing the same goes for Spock's star student Uhura, too.

Also Uhura was already in the academy when Kirk was recruited (hence her being in uniform). I wouldn't be suprised if she'd already done her first year at that point.


OneBuckFilms wrote: View Post
She's a Cadet, and due to academic performance has earned her way to Lieutenant.

Cadet is not a rank, but an assignment state, and from what I can tell, your academic performance as a Cadet partially leads to a rank.

Chekov may be an Ensign due to a lack of leadership qualities. A virtual genius in terms of capabilities, but with no leadership skills to warrant a rank increase.
If Chekov had "no leadership skills", he wouldn't have been left in charge of the Enterprise, which he was when Spock beamed down to Vulcan.
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Old June 21 2010, 08:37 PM   #5
Whill
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

I think I understand. Ranks can be earned before graduation from Starfleet Academy. Kirk and Uhura (and Saavik-prime) were Lieutenants before graduation, while Checkov had already graduated but was still only an Ensign. Some commissioned officers graduate with Lieutenant while others only graduate with Ensign. The Lieutenants were pressumable Ensigns at one time, back during earlier training as a cadet.

Thanks, guys!
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Old June 21 2010, 08:39 PM   #6
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
In TOS *and* this film, Kirk received the rank of Lieutenant upon graduation from the Academy. Uhura could have gotten the same thing.
Um... they hadn't graduated by the time of the crisis and there is clearly a graphic showing a 'Lt. Kirk' during the orbital skydive.
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Old June 21 2010, 09:24 PM   #7
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

^ Uhura did graduate, and Kirk would have if he hadn't had that hearing.
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Old June 21 2010, 09:35 PM   #8
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
^ Uhura did graduate, and Kirk would have if he hadn't had that hearing.
We do have to assume the Kirk, McCoy, Uhura and Cupcake all graduated at some point in the film. But at the time of the crisis on Vulcan we heard both Kirk and Uhura being referred to as cadet.

And at the time of his promotion to Captain, Kirk was still wearing his Academy 'reds' instead of a standard uniform. But then again Sulu and Chekov are in Academy uniforms as well at the end ceremony.

http://movies.trekcore.com/gallery/a...ekxihd2851.jpg

So who the hell knows.
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Old June 21 2010, 10:52 PM   #9
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

Back in the day when TWOK came out I thought that Saavik was a LT because she had already graduated from the Academy. I figured that officers in the Command division received Command School training sometime after graduating. Similar to current US military practice of officers attending additional schooling prior to advancing to command rank. I think the Army calls it War College.
I'd like to see in the next movie that Kirk went back to the Academy for Command School. Meanwhile the Enterprise is undergoing repairs/refit to repair damage suffered during the previous movie. It comes out looking "better" inside and out.
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Old June 21 2010, 10:56 PM   #10
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

Yeah, the whole promotion thing was one of the things the movie didn't handle very well.

I forget, was Kirk promoted all the way to captain or just commander at the end of the film?

Actually, I think it would have been funny if they left him as a lieutenant. That way, even though he was the captain of the ship, Spock would still out rank him.
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Old June 21 2010, 11:24 PM   #11
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

OneBuckFilms wrote: View Post
Cadet is not a rank, but an assignment state
I have no idea if it's true in some modern-day military, but this is always the way I've understood it in Star Trek, and it works with all the previous occurrences.

Bob goes to the Academy: he's a Cadet with no rank. He graduates as an Ensign (or maybe a Lieutenant due to academic performances if there is such a procedure). He is assigned to a ship. Later in his career he goes back to the Academy, maybe for some additional specialization or training. He's still a Lieutenant, but he's also a Cadet (i.e. a student) at the Academy. Just like you can have a Bachelor's or a Master's degree and still be a (grad) student. I guess Uhura could have been in such a situation.

As I said, I'm not sure if it works like that in any military today, but it kind of makes sense for Star Trek.
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Old June 22 2010, 01:44 AM   #12
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

Well, captain of the ship is an assignment state. Kirk can be an Ensign (or Leautenant) at the end of the movie, but he got special assignment as the captain because of his performance during XI.

What I confuse is that he got the newest (and best) starship just after he graduated. I think, giving a nice and... a bit older starship to the heroic but fresh graduated officer like Kirk is already the greatest honor a country can give.

Ship like Enterprise should be commanded by a senior officer who has much much more experience.
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Old June 22 2010, 05:16 AM   #13
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

Brainsucker wrote: View Post
Well, captain of the ship is an assignment state. Kirk can be an Ensign (or Leautenant) at the end of the movie, but he got special assignment as the captain because of his performance during XI.
You knew Kirk would be Captain by the end of the movie. It was the alternate timeline "origin" movie. Yes, there were eddies and currents in time stuff going on to help make it happen, but it had to end in such a way to set up modern adventures in a similar situation as the TOS. Yes, it happened in a contrived way to all take place in one film. Kirk has 3 years of Academy training, becomes a Leiutenant, defeats the KM test, saves the planet Earth, and attains the rank of Captain. You either buy it or you don't.

Brainsucker wrote: View Post
What I confuse is that he got the newest (and best) starship just after he graduated. I think, giving a nice and... a bit older starship to the heroic but fresh graduated officer like Kirk is already the greatest honor a country can give.

Ship like Enterprise should be commanded by a senior officer who has much much more experience.
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You know, that instinct to leap without looking, that was his nature too, and in my opinion, it's something Starfleet's lost.
And Starfleet gained it back with the young Kirk. Pike and Spock wanted to regroup with the fleet, and if that had happened, the Earth would have been destroyed. Kirk rebelling against authority saved the planet. So it makes sense to give Kirk a higher authority since he will just disobey orders anyway. And it makes sense to give him the best tools to save the Federation, so why not the Starfleet flagship?

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Old June 22 2010, 05:19 AM   #14
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

Brainsucker wrote: View Post
Well, captain of the ship is an assignment state. Kirk can be an Ensign (or Leautenant) at the end of the movie
I agree that an officer can have the position of captain without the rank. But that wasn't the case with Kirk at the end of this film. Check his uniform...he wore the *insignia* (i.e. stripes) of a full Captain in Starfleet.

True, he only skipped over two ranks (Lieutenant Commander and Commander), but I submit that even that is unrealistic. Ranks are to be used, not skipped. That's why they're there in the first place.
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Old June 22 2010, 09:41 AM   #15
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Re: Starfleet rank system?

Perhaps not. Today's military is based on breaking people down and rebuilding them all the same way. Star Trek's psuedo-military builds up and uses the strengths of the individual as best they can - hence Worf and Sulu taking bladed weapons on away missions, Wesley piloting the flagship despite a total lack of training simply because he's good at it, Spock and Data's amazing minds being utilized, unknown alien Odo being left in charge of DS9 security (most of the time), Maquis crew, who should be in the brig being given positions of power on Voyager, gifted Chekov navigating the flagship at age 17 and Kirk, the genius tactician being given command of a starship (as Spock said in STII, "Anything else would be a waste of resources").
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