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Old September 3 2013, 06:45 PM   #1
JT Perfecthair
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In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

Here is a Trek mainstay, the Captain starts to act weird and Mccoy or Crusher begin to think they will have to force the him out of the chair for the good of the ship.

In reality, does any ships doctor have this kind of power? Presumably if a sub Captain started "demanding the keys" and threatening to launch missiles just for fun, a group of the crew would not obey, or stop his actions, or at least advise HQ. But can the doctor do so on his own, or is this just a Trekism?
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Old September 3 2013, 06:50 PM   #2
Chaos Descending
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

Not like it's portrayed on Star Trek, no.
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Old September 3 2013, 06:58 PM   #3
marksound
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

I don't think a submarine commander could just "demand the keys" and they would be handed over.

No idea how it works in the US military. There would have to be protocols in place for the contingency that a commander were to begin acting erratically. If the senior staff came to the conclusion that the CO was not fit for duty, there should be a procedure for temporarily relieving him of command.

Surely there are naval personnel here who are more familiar with the subject.
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Old September 3 2013, 08:47 PM   #4
J.T.B.
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

For the US Navy, what Chaos Descending said. Only the next-in-command can do anythign like that, and it's a very big deal. Here is what US Navy Regulations say on the subject:
1088. Relief of a Commanding Officer by a Subordinate.

1. It is conceivable that most unusual and extraordinary circumstances may arise in which the relief from duty of a commanding officer by a subordinate becomes necessary, either by placing the commanding officer under arrest or on the sick list. Such action shall never be taken without the approval of the Commandant of the Marine Corps or the Chief of Naval Personnel, as appropriate, or the senior officer present, except when reference to such higher authority is undoubtedly impracticable because of the delay involved or for other clearly obvious reasons. In any event, a complete report of the matter shall be made to the Commandant of the Marine Corps or the Chief of Naval Personnel, as appropriate, and the senior officer present, setting forth all facts in the case and the reasons for the action or recommendation, with particular regard to the degree of urgency involved.

2. In order that a subordinate officer, acting upon his or her own initiative, may be vindicated for relieving a commanding officer from duty, the situation must be obvious and clear, and must admit of the single conclusion that the retention of command by such commanding officer will seriously and irretrievably prejudice the public interests. The subordinate officer so acting

a. Must be next in succession to command.

b. Must be unable tn refer the matter to a common superior for the reasons set forth in the
preceding paragraph.

c. Must be certain that the prejudicial actions of the commanding officer are not caused by instructions unknown to him or her.

d. Must have given the matter much careful consideration, and have made such exhaustive
investigation of all the circumstances as may be practicable.

e. Must be thoroughly convinced that the conclusion to relieve the commanding officer is one which a reasonable, prudent and experienced officer would regard as a necessary consequence from the facts thus determined to exist.
3. Intelligent, fearless initiative is an important trait of military character. It is not the purpose of these regulations to discourage its employment in cases of this nature. However, because the action of relieving a senior from command involves most serious possibilities, a decision to do so, or to so recommend, must be based upon facts established by substantial evidence, and upon the official views of others in a position to form valid opinions, especially of a technical character. An officer relieving his or her commanding officer, or recommending such action, together with all others who so counsel, must bear the legitimate responsibility for, and must be prepared to justify, such action.
Read or at least see The Caine Mutiny for a very good look at the serious ramifications of subordinates relieving the captain of a warship.
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Old September 3 2013, 10:17 PM   #5
Shawnster
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

This also happened in the Horatio Hornblower series.
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Old September 4 2013, 02:53 AM   #6
The Wormhole
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

JT Perfecthair wrote: View Post
Here is a Trek mainstay, the Captain starts to act weird and Mccoy or Crusher begin to think they will have to force the him out of the chair for the good of the ship.

In reality, does any ships doctor have this kind of power? Presumably if a sub Captain started "demanding the keys" and threatening to launch missiles just for fun, a group of the crew would not obey, or stop his actions, or at least advise HQ. But can the doctor do so on his own, or is this just a Trekism?
Medical personnel do have authority over officers of any rank, but only in medical matters. If the ship's doctor felt the captain wasn't healthy enough to perform his/her duties, then he/she would have to deal with the matter. If it's serious enough, then yes, the doctor could relieve the captain of duty, but even then it would be a last resort. Most of the time a doctor should only have to suggest a captain take it easy, take some time off, and a wise captain would do so, or try to anyway.
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Old September 4 2013, 03:38 AM   #7
Avro Arrow
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
For the US Navy, what Chaos Descending said. Only the next-in-command can do anythign like that, and it's a very big deal. Here is what US Navy Regulations say on the subject:
Fascinating read, thanks!

In a real-life situation, I wonder how the second-in-command would go about fulfilling this requirement:

c. Must be certain that the prejudicial actions of the commanding officer are not caused by instructions unknown to him or her.
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Old September 4 2013, 12:57 PM   #8
Timo
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

I'd think the XO would bring up the matter of the CO apparently acting against "public interests" in a private discussion, and if the CO refused to explain himself (certainly his prerogative), would this rare once press for explanations with further emphasis on there apparently being the "against public interests" angle there - specifically asking whether factors unknown to the XO, such as secret orders, were behind the suspicious activity. If the CO does not say "Yes" at this point, then the conditions of that particular clause would have been met.

However, clearing that particular hurdle would not equate immediately springing to mutinous action...

But can the doctor do so on his own, or is this just a Trekism?
Umm, it's not a Trekism, that much is pretty certain. The Chief Medical Officers of our hero starships do not do so "on their own", but by providing their professional backing for the XO. McCoy confronts Decker and Kirk with Spock, not alone; Crusher confronts Picard'd double with Riker, not alone.

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Old September 4 2013, 01:15 PM   #9
CommishSleer
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

The situation in Star Trek is slightly different than the current US Navy.
Presumably the CO or EXEC of a naval ship could contact headquarters at will and perhaps get others helicoptered in to check out the situation within hours. Whereas Picard's and certainly Kirk's ship are often out of contact with HQ for months on end.

And there are only realistically a couple of reasons to relieve the captain of a current naval vessel. Alcohol, drugs, coersions, brain tumour/insanity. Star Trek has to deal with spores, gods and shape-changers as well.
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Old September 4 2013, 02:49 PM   #10
jpv2000
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

CommishSleer wrote: View Post
The situation in Star Trek is slightly different than the current US Navy.
Presumably the CO or EXEC of a naval ship could contact headquarters at will and perhaps get others helicoptered in to check out the situation within hours. Whereas Picard's and certainly Kirk's ship are often out of contact with HQ for months on end.

And there are only realistically a couple of reasons to relieve the captain of a current naval vessel. Alcohol, drugs, coersions, brain tumour/insanity. Star Trek has to deal with spores, gods and shape-changers as well.
Very true. Probably also why Starfleet started being stricter about Captains not going down to strange planets in landing parties as well. Hoping to keep them away from such hazards as much as possible.
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Old September 4 2013, 10:07 PM   #11
Nine of Four
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

jpv2000 wrote: View Post
CommishSleer wrote: View Post
The situation in Star Trek is slightly different than the current US Navy.
Presumably the CO or EXEC of a naval ship could contact headquarters at will and perhaps get others helicoptered in to check out the situation within hours. Whereas Picard's and certainly Kirk's ship are often out of contact with HQ for months on end.

And there are only realistically a couple of reasons to relieve the captain of a current naval vessel. Alcohol, drugs, coersions, brain tumour/insanity. Star Trek has to deal with spores, gods and shape-changers as well.
Very true. Probably also why Starfleet started being stricter about Captains not going down to strange planets in landing parties as well. Hoping to keep them away from such hazards as much as possible.
I feel sorry for Picard for that very reason.....
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Old September 7 2013, 04:58 PM   #12
jayrath
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

Excellent idea for a thread!
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Old September 10 2013, 02:50 PM   #13
Star Wolf
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
Read or at least see The Caine Mutiny for a very good look at the serious ramifications of subordinates relieving the captain of a warship.
Good thing I double checked before posting
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Old September 10 2013, 03:11 PM   #14
Star Wolf
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

And from what a sailor/veteran reported in the emergency holodeck sickbay thread unless you are on an aircraft carrier there probably isn't a doctor aboard anyway. And in that case there are what three other Captains and maybe an Admiral aboard also?
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Old September 13 2013, 07:51 AM   #15
Silvercrest
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Re: In the Navy, Can a doctor actually relieve the captain from duty?

Nine of Four wrote: View Post
jpv2000 wrote: View Post
CommishSleer wrote: View Post
The situation in Star Trek is slightly different than the current US Navy.
Presumably the CO or EXEC of a naval ship could contact headquarters at will and perhaps get others helicoptered in to check out the situation within hours. Whereas Picard's and certainly Kirk's ship are often out of contact with HQ for months on end.

And there are only realistically a couple of reasons to relieve the captain of a current naval vessel. Alcohol, drugs, coersions, brain tumour/insanity. Star Trek has to deal with spores, gods and shape-changers as well.
Very true. Probably also why Starfleet started being stricter about Captains not going down to strange planets in landing parties as well. Hoping to keep them away from such hazards as much as possible.
I feel sorry for Picard for that very reason.....
Don't be. He was stir-crazy for decades under that rule, but he got better after he decided to break out the dune buggy.
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