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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > Star Trek - Original Series

Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old September 25 2012, 04:10 AM   #1
RB_Kandy
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Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

I know the Enterprise 1701 had captains before Kirk, but did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?
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Old September 25 2012, 05:17 AM   #2
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

I vaguely recall something about a ship he served on between the Farragut and Enterprise, but can't think of the name. It wouldn't have been mentioned on-screen, though, so maybe I'm thinking of something I read in The Making of Star Trek...?

But I'm guessing that at one time he must surely have captained sailboats on Earth, or at least in his bathtub.
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Old September 25 2012, 05:22 AM   #3
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Some speculative fiction and novels have him commanding as many as three or four ships prior to Enterprise.

Remember you don't have to have the rank of "captain" to be the commanding officer of a ship. In the U.S. Navy, nuclear missile submarines carrying literally hundreds of nuclear warheads are often "commanded" by officers with the rank of "Commander" and not "Captain".

If Starfleet is remotely like Earth navies, you can command ships like destroyers, frigates, or support vessels with only the rank of "Commander".
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Old September 25 2012, 05:34 AM   #4
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

JFK commanded the PT-109 as a Lieutenant jg.
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Old September 25 2012, 05:42 AM   #5
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

As far as onscreen material goes, there's no mention of Kirk commanding any other ship prior to the Enterprise.
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Old September 25 2012, 06:43 AM   #6
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

I'd like to think Kirk commanded *something* before the Enterprise. Even a destroyer for a year or two, even as a Lt.Cmdr. Something. I'll even take Kirk as a First Officer somewhere, somehow.

Just some kind of command experience.
I don't like to think, and I don't have the impression, that Kirk is that green to command with the Enterprise being his first ever.
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Old September 25 2012, 07:10 AM   #7
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

In "Where No Man Has Gone Before," Dr. Dehner said that Kirk requested Gary Mitchell for his first command, but we don't know whether that first command was the Enterprise (which he could have been commanding for a year or two, depending on what chronology you subscribe to) or some other vessel.
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Old September 25 2012, 08:10 AM   #8
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
JFK commanded the PT-109 as a Lieutenant jg.
I wonder how he managed that. I'm guessing family ties. Or is that sort of thing common? I wouldn't think it is but I don't know much about military history...

Anyway, it's not like we have to look outside of the Star Trek universe for a precedent on officers other than Captain commanding starships. Look at Sisko, he commanded the defiant as a Commander.
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Old September 25 2012, 08:23 AM   #9
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Well, Kirk wore the two solid braid of Commander when commanding the Enterprise in "Where No Man Has Gone Before"!

And before you yell "different systems!", let's remember that the Starfleet braid system was basically exactly the same as the later regular TOS one in two prequels: ENT (for those uniforms that had braid rather than pips), and STXI (for both the 2233 teaser and the 2258 main action scenes). Why should it change into something else for the duration of this episode, in in-universe terms?

I wonder how he managed that.
A torpedo boat is a tiny little thing: Kennedy had just a dozen underlings of whom only two were commissioned officers (Ensigns both). Junior Lieutenant was more or less standard fare for commanding that type of boat, except perhaps for the most prestigious formation-leading boats (some of which were equipped with radar and had larger crews).

Papa Joe may have paved the way for John F. by helping him pass the medicals despite his well-known back problems, but AFAIK the assignment as such was not out of the line for a competent young officer in wartime.

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Old September 25 2012, 10:42 AM   #10
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
As far as onscreen material goes, there's no mention of Kirk commanding any other ship prior to the Enterprise.
Incorrect. In the character's bio reprinted in The Making Of Star Trek it says Kirk commanded a destroyer equivalent class starship. This is reinforced by a reference in WNMHGB when Elizabeth Dehner metioning Kirk having asked for Mitchell aboard his first command.

That's a nice touch of realism, there, suggesting Kirk had some command experience before being posted to one of Starfleet's frontline ships.
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Old September 25 2012, 11:04 AM   #11
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Considering the amount of quotes from The Making of Star Trek from Stephen E. Whitfield I felt necessary to mention in various posts over the past weeks, I can only recommend to various BBS members to consider this great book for purchase and/or as a Thanksgiving gift.

Anybody interested in the original producers' intentions doesn't have to guess - you can easily read it all there.

Bob
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Old September 25 2012, 11:13 AM   #12
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Robert Comsol wrote: View Post
Considering the amount of quotes from The Making of Star Trek from Stephen E. Whitfield I felt necessary to mention in various posts over the past weeks, I can only recommend to various BBS members to consider this great book for purchase and/or as a Thanksgiving gift.

Anybody interested in the original producers' intentions doesn't have to guess - you can easily read it all there.

Bob
A good point. Back in the day this was a primo reference source. Today it often seems forgotten or overlooked, but it's still a good reference and relevant for many things. It certainly conveys a sense of flavour and atmosphere for when TOS was in production (it was published during TOS' second and third seasons).

I still have a treasured copy in good condition on my bookshelf.
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Old September 25 2012, 11:29 AM   #13
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Even if he had served on other ships, it wouldn't have been for very long. Kirk was Captain of the Enterprise at 31 (2264) and graduated the Academy in 2254. He was probably promoted to Captain to take on that role, but as others have said it doesn't preclude him from commanding other smaller ships at a lower rank prior to the Enterprise.
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Old September 25 2012, 12:02 PM   #14
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Timewalker wrote: View Post
I vaguely recall something about a ship he served on between the Farragut and Enterprise, but can't think of the name. It wouldn't have been mentioned on-screen, though, so maybe I'm thinking of something I read in The Making of Star Trek...?

But I'm guessing that at one time he must surely have captained sailboats on Earth, or at least in his bathtub.
In "Court Martial", it said Ensign Kirk logged Finney's mistake while serving on the USS Republic. The Farragut, when he was a Lieutenant, was mentioned in "Obsession".
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Old September 25 2012, 12:34 PM   #15
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
As far as onscreen material goes, there's no mention of Kirk commanding any other ship prior to the Enterprise.
Incorrect. In the character's bio reprinted in The Making Of Star Trek it says Kirk commanded a destroyer equivalent class starship. This is reinforced by a reference in WNMHGB when Elizabeth Dehner metioning Kirk having asked for Mitchell aboard his first command.
That's incorrect. Or rather, it's your opinion given that there's no onscreen material to support it.

For starters, it doesn't matter if it comes from a book if it doesn't make it onscreen (fans of various reference books written by people who worked on Trek know this very well). Secondly, Dehner's comment doesn't preclude that Kirk's first command was the Enterprise and that Kirk wanted Mitchell to be there with him. So it could go either way--either Kirk was captain of a ship prior to the Enterprise or he wasn't--as there is no way to prove either position from onscreen material.

The only answer to the question in the OP is that there is no official answer, only our personal conjecture and opinions.
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