Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by ThatsMrCaptaintoyou, Mar 27, 2021.
We know, at least by Stardate 5483.7, that Uhura is the most senior female line officer on the ship.
I don't pay much attention to stardates: is that the date of The Lorelei Signal?
The terminology there is curious but perhaps telling.
Uhura yanks command out of Scotty's unresisting hands by calling herself "senior Lieutenant". Technically, that's just her rank, and she never claims she would be next in command after Scott by simple seniority (and probably isn't, because the ship is chock full of male lieutenants who are physically older-looking than Uhura). Possibly you need to be a Lieutenant (and not a junior one) in order to have the power to put in effect the regulation that Uhura is leaning on here. I mean, there would always be one on the general lines of "in case other officers of superior rank cannot be reached and can be expected to be incapacitated, the local top dog can assume command and sort it out later".
When assembling the landing party, Uhura in turn commands a peer. Davidson is a fellow Lieutenant (they all are!) and addresses Uhura not as "Sir, yes, Sir!" but as "Lieutenant", acknowledging the wisdom of her orders and the subsequent authority but not any formal superiority beyond that.
Everything thus is set for us to choose from a range of options, ranging from the most convoluted (and thus probably least realistic) to the least(most):
1) Uhura is the most senior-ranked female officer aboard the ship at the time.
2) Uhura is the formal successor of Scotty in matters of command, and the likes of Mulhall are mere Staff and won't matter.
3) Uhura is eligible to do the job in the right circumstances, including having the threshold rank required, and knows when to grab the initiative.
We have seen too many high-ranking females in other episodes to really believe in the first one. We also know that the chain of command from Scotty down is murky and often replaced by the whim of Kirk (who does the officer-in-charge thing instead), and Uhura doesn't really refer to that, either. But the whole point here is that Uhura is capable and does save the day by acting on her own.
Or 4) (which is what I said) Uhura is the senior female line officer.
...Which is basically the same as 2. We need to do away with all the female high-rankers we know are out there, including the competing redshirts and goldshirts, and it's gotta be "formal" in the sense of "convoluted", that is, on the lines of line vs. staff.
But if there were higher-ranking line officers who aren't space-happy with their maleness there, would Uhura seek them out? It's an escalating crisis, with difficulties in communication: Uhura could well expect Lieutenant Commander Gorgeous-Competent to act on her own initiative elsewhere on the ship (even if she has to fight gogo-boot-deep in obstructionist males), but as long as Uhura sees no such action, it's up to her to do something, and fast.
I guess the really interesting question here is, with Uhura going down with the landing party, who's in charge of the Enterprise?
This interesting fact is part of what leads me to believe that the way Starfleet has "colonels" is that that who would reach the rank of Captain but serve at a base and not a ship are called "colonels."
The "Making of Star Trek" and other "official" (but not necessarily "canon") print sources claim he is the youngest ever, but the plots don't necessarily mean that has to be so. Of course many of the same sources claim that Kirk broke Pike's record for youngest captain, and Picard broke Kirk's during the Stargazer mission. But I get what you are saying, on-screen we have only visual evidence to suggest how exceptional Kirk might be.
This having being brought up, if Kirk was the young hot-shot who had made it into an elite group of captains of special starships, it does not seem realistic that his young-ness and talent would be mentioned all the time, because if it were real life, that could make the other captains appear to be looking down at him. Imagine if Captain Tracy had brought up what a young, great officer Kirk was. It would have only made Tracy look more crazed and cruel.
You will no-doubt remind the readers that we don't know how elite or how special the group of starship captains is. I just mean that it seems to be a small enough circle in TOS that they mostly know each other, so they would not have bring up Kirk's age and record EVERY time they see him.
We don't know that Anne Muhuall is a regularly assigned officer who is on the ship for any length of time. We also know that at least 1-2 navigators are promoted to Communications (Riley, Farrell). There are a few episodes in which Uhura is likely the senior officer on the bridge, and we just don't actually see her sit in the chair. In fact, (since Scotty is off-duty, and Sulu is not present, and she outranks Chekov) a recent re-watch of "The Trouble With Tribbles" had me realizing that in the scene where Kirk is handing her Tribbles and giving her orders while he is leaving the Bridge, it could be interpreted that he is actually giving her command on the ship in a live action episode.
@Mres_was_framed! I think there are a number of instances in Star Trek, including the one you named, where Uhura is almost certainly in command. I just watched Balance of Terror last night and I'm pretty sure she was in command up on the bridge during the briefing room scene. There are several other examples. It's a pity indeed that we never saw her in the big chair, until TAS that is.
It's a question of chairs all right. Sulu commands from his Helm chair from "Arena" on; Uhura sitting at her Comms station thus isn't necessarily indicative of anything or its opposite...
The Making of Star Trek, Part II, chapter 4 "The Ship's Captain", and presumably one or more editions of the TOS writers' guide say:
A Star Trek fan can include such semi canonical statements in their personal head canon, or exclude them, or be uncertain if they accept them.
So what is the meaning of that sentence?
Does Kirk's record still hold at the time of TOS, or has some other person became a captain at a younger age since Kirk was appointed? Does the "was" mean that Kirk's record no longer stands?
Since Kirk is specified as the youngest "Academy graduate", has someone who didn't gaduate from Starfleet Academy become a captain younger than Kirk?
And what exactly is a "Starship Command Captain"? Is that a mistake for "Starfleet Command Captain", making Kirk the youngest captain in all of Starfleet? Or is Kirk the youngest person to be in command of a starship, while younger persons could have had the rank of captain without being in command of starships?
Does "Captain", mean the commander of a ship, or a person with the rank of Captain, or someone who is both?
Kirk's status is fomally described in "Court Martial":
Notice that his service rank, position, and current assignment are three separate statements. Thus there is no specification of whether Kirk attained those three aspects of his current status at one, or two, or three, separate times. And there is no specifcation of the order in which Kirk might have obtained those three separate aspects of his current status if it was not all at one time.
So Kirk's possible record as the youngest starship command captain is somewhat uncertain in strict canon.
Other Starfleet captains in the TOS who might have become captains at very young ages that might have been close to Kirk's age, and possibly lower if Kirk didn't hold the record, include:
1) Garth of Izar
2) Chrisotpher PIke
3) Williard Decker
Starfleet Captiains in the TNG era who might have become captains at very young ages include:
2) Riker if he accepted some of the commands he was offered
3) Tryla scott
4) Janeway according to the later seasons of VOY.
Excellent catch, @MAGolding with "Starship Command". Staying with this Commodore Stocker thread, we may assume that though Stocker is a Commodore in rank, he never held the "position" of "Starship Command", and thus, he technically was not qualified for command of the Enterprise. But in emergencies, there is probably latitude due to his rank...
Stocker's Starfleet service record might read:
Compile your catches above with Bread and Circuses:
Merik's Starfleet service record might read:
And thus, the different badging for assignments for Starbase, Starship, Spaceship, etc.
Merrick washed out
Probably need that fifth year to command a ship in Starfleet.
Agreed. It sounds like the merchant service is still part of the Starfleet, so, maybe his position should be changed to "Merchant Service" or "Merchant Command".
If he's been dropped from the Academy it seems unlikely he'd be serving in Starfleet. Might be a civilian merchant captain.
In any event, the merchant service abides to Federation/Starfleet laws. If just a "citizen" of the Federation, then now every single person in the Federation is under that law and the complicated determinations that come with it. If Kirk and Picard barely get it right (or do they?), then how can one expect every person to do it. The only way to control exploration and merchant activities in space with planets following Federation law, is for all space travel to be directly run (probably like the SS ships; does SS stand for Service Ship...hmm.) and/or licensed (like with Cyrano Jones and planetary work like Robert Crater) by Starfleet. I'm slowly building a theory of Starfleet operations...
I'm sure any ship with a Federation registry is subject to the rules and regulations of the Federation. There might be a Federation Merchant Authority that oversees civilians engaging in trade. There must be a department in the UFP that oversees civilians engaging in science and exploration on the space ways. Starfleet no doubt works in concert with both.
Or at least you need to squeeze in your no-win scenario test somehow. Kirk did it all in three years in one reality; Merrick took five, and Saavik apparently postponed the command studies till after her graduation.
Which is basically the opposite of what we learn in "Angel One" a fictional century later: the laws protect the civilian citizen from the rules and regulations of Starfleet, as regards contact with those ignorant of interstellar affairs.
Of course, Kirk might be flat out lying to the locals, at this critical juncture where he wishes to enlist the help of Septimus and his rebels, and is facing a beheading by them instead because Septimus thinks Kirk is a friend of Merrick's. He doesn't bring up consequences in those cases where he himself or his colleagues practices interference - except with Tracey who has taken interference to relative heights and killed orders of magnitude more locals than Merrick's already industrial-strength scheme ever managed...
Laws aren't realistic that way. If there's a death penalty on wearing green socks on odd Tuesdays when the tide is middling, it's irrelevant whether the offender is aware of this law. Indeed, not only is awareness of the law presumed, the offender is expected to know about the deliberations behind the law and its unwritten intent (insofar as the intent is instead written in the minutiae of the lawmakers).
It's the practical execution (if necessary, with phasers!) that matters. And Kirk seems to tackle this with glee, chasing down Harry Mudd for the grand offense of Mudd fleeing from his attacking starship. Jurisdiction, schmurisdiction: if Starfleet can pounce on you at random spots of space for reasons of their own making and unapologetically reduce your ship to a cloud of plasma, you learn to fear and respect the law even when the true odds of getting caught for specific offenses are slim. And to address Kirk as "Sir"...
I don't think so. Picard violated the Prime Directive when Wesley stepped on a flower (or something) and got the death penalty. This demonstrates that the Federation (via Picard) does not believe in absolute laws. Awareness of the law plus a cost-benefit analysis of crime-to-punishment are both needed. Picard broke off negotiations with a planet because their legal system was not in line with Federation values.
That's Picard breaking foreign law, which has never been a big problem for our heroes. But law in general works by requiring knowledge of law, against realism, and UFP law probably should work that way internally, too.
Although it might not. After all, requiring the intuitive understanding of the thing about green socks is downright sane compared to the things the average UFP citizen would need to understand about Vulcan mumbo-jumbo, say...
Picard is willing to break the prime directive to save Wesley but not to save millions of people from certain death...
How noble of him!
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