Red or Yellow (well, green?)

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by C57D, Jun 2, 2019.

  1. C57D

    C57D Commander Red Shirt

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    Knowing that yellow (green) is the TOS uniform colour for command and tactical, blue for science and medical, and red for support disciplines.
    And that Uhura originally wore a yellow uniform (although it seems she was changed to red because it seems to suit her natural tones better).
    And that TOS broadly mimics the US Navy.
    Is it sensible to argue that Communications should be a command/tactical discipline not a supporting one?
    Communications as TOS Uhura portrayed it, seems to me to be a direct steal from US Navy COMINT. Technical and tactical communications, triangulating and tracking enemy location by their signals, code using (and by extrapolation) maybe breaking, manipulating the communications gear to overcome artificial and natural obstacles etc. And if that is so, that her role is more tactical than supporting and she should have stayed in yellow (green)?
    I guess the question is two fold.
    Am I right in seeing Uhura on that way?
    And, to any Navy or ex Navy folks out there, is COMINT tactical or support?
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2019
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  2. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think so, and it was reclassified as a command/operations discipline (yellow) in TMP before (inexplicably) becoming a science discipline (grey) in TWoK. I discount TWoK because the collar colours have no logic at all (helm and engineering the same colour). TMP is a better example.

    So everyone suggesting she never took command because she was an engineer... is wrong. ;-p
     
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  3. Spock's Barber

    Spock's Barber Commodore Commodore

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    I’d say support mode during normal patrols and tactical during conflicts.
     
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  4. C57D

    C57D Commander Red Shirt

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    That makes sense to me. Just normal reports back to the nearest starbase, and receiving standard updates, briefings etc during normal patrols. But that on a starship, a normal patrol could quickly, smoothly and easily change to a tactical situation, to me, shows the roles true position?
     
  5. Phaser Two

    Phaser Two Commodore Premium Member

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    Was yellowgoldERRRRRgreen really tactical, though, or was that a TNG-era supplementation (for red and gold as changed)? I thought Sulu and Chekov wore gold because they were command-track officers, and De Salle and Hansen too. We can speculate about Hadley, Haines, Spinelli, Bailey, Stiles, Riley, and Rhada. But I believe gold was the scarcest uni color on Star Trek, particularly after S1.

    For TWOK, the gray for Uhura and Chekov always made sense to me. Navigation and communications both involve science (witness Hoshi Sato with blue accents, not red, which I only noticed about a year ago, and I love it). Or you can just say that gray was science, communications, and navigation.

    Now excuse me while I go yell about Valeris' red turtleneck and Chekov never once taking the helm, ever. I bet he knew how to fly the ship as well as Kyle, Hadley, and Rand did!
     
  6. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Doing Whatever It Takes Moderator

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    In addition to Hoshi, TNG also had communications officer Aquiel Uhnari in blue. We just don't see many dedicated communications officers in the TNG era. (Alden also wore blue in WNMHGB, but I'm not entirely sure if that represented Science at the time, since security seemed to wear it too.)

    It looks like Discovery decided to stay consistent with (most of) TOS, and has Bryce in bronze, and
    Nicola in red.
     
  7. Henoch

    Henoch Fleet Captain Premium Member

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    Trek Core search for different crewmen who manned the comm in TOS (excluding WNMHGB):
    Red: 8
    Gold: 3 (all in Season 1)
    Blue: 0
    Uhura counted twice, once for gold and once for red. She also accounted for 66 episodes of the 78 in the search.
     
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  8. Vger23

    Vger23 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Maybe communications is more an assignment rather than a division/department.
     
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  9. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    I don't know why you're excluding WNMHGB, but okay. My prefered TOS color definitions go like this:

    Chartreuse: Command and Tactical Division. (Command as in steering the ship, not ordering people around. All colors have bosses and subordinates.)

    Blue: Science and Medical.

    Red: Engineering, IT, Technical Services, and Security. (Comm being a technical service.)
     
  10. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How about Uhura never took command owing to her not being a "line officer?"

    She did take command once in TAS, but a majority of the ship's compliment was incapacitated at the time.
     
  11. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If she was wearing gold, she was a line officer. That was the point I was making. Other characters in red took command too because their original training was as a line officer.
     
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  12. Shamrock Holmes

    Shamrock Holmes Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Part of the problem is that Starfleet appears to draw the specialities of many of its officers more narrowly than RW navies - particularly the USN and USCG - do.

    Looking at Uhura based only officers then if she's an unrestricted line officer - which her wearing yellow/green in early episodes certainly implies - then she should be in gold/green (as should Data in TNG and Tuvok and Kim in VOY), on the other hand, if we ignore that 'early installment weirdness' and take her role through the bulk of the series, it's possible that she's a restricted line officer (either Naval Intelligence Officer, Cryptologic (Warfare) Officer, Public Affairs Officer or a combination of all three, which would be support branch (though probably Security and Services rather than Engineering under the TMP system).

    If we define her role as COMINT, then that's an Admin/Deck role (but doesn't feed into the URL community at Officer level) so is a bit of an odd-duck. On the other hand, we also know that she does maintenance and repair on the comm system which is definately an Engineering function.

    Actually, in the submarine service (which spaceships model better than the regular surface ships), any "helm" specialists are likely to be ETNs (electronic technicians - navigation), which are fairly evidently part of "engineering", and at least some of the relief "helm" would be from the Admin/Deck crew (supply, mess, yeomen etc) which could be part of "support" in the tri-color system, but would be grouped with Security and Services under the TMP system.
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That Uhura would be a communications officer while wearing gold is something we can easily dispute! "Mudd's Women" is an early adventure, indeed the very first regular one by stardate terms - and the big thing about the early adventures is that the crew has been reshuffled after the pilot episode, with familiar characters in new positions, or new characters stepping in. Plausibly, then, Kirk would have compensated for his "Where No Man" losses by moving personnel around, and Spock shifting from gold to blue and Sulu from blue to gold would be matched by Uhura switching from gold to red - but not immediately so, as Kirk was still trying to find the best fit.

    The question then becomes, what job was Uhura transferring from that required her to don gold? Sulu's goldshirt career gives us no hint about his blueshirt past, so all bets would seem to be off for Uhura's past, too. Any of the "established goldshirt jobs" from regular TOS episodes are available to us at the very least.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  14. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This does beg the question, what ARE gold shirt jobs? Phaser control, helm, navigation, shuttle pilot? Anything else? They do seem to be jobs that everyone is trained to do. Landing party supervision maybe?
     
  15. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I always put administration, diplomacy and intelligence into the command division--though there wouldn't be many of the second and third ones on most ships.
     
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  16. Shamrock Holmes

    Shamrock Holmes Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    She appears to be helm and/navigation rated in at least some episodes, maybe she stood the night-shift 'up front' before Kirk moved her.
     
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  17. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    I'd say the primary meaning of "Command Division" (as named in The Making of Star Trek and Franz Joseph) is controlling the ship itself, operating the ship, as opposed to repairing and maintaining it.
     
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  18. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Tl;dr: That might be a Star Trek distinction, but it's not a navy distinction. But we're talking about two different things.

    So...
    My experience is almost 30 years past at this point, but I think it still mostly applies. At least in the US Navy, what Uhura did would be completely separate from signals intelligence gathering. One is communicating effectively with friends, the other is eavesdropping on the enemy. The signals/crypto/electronic/cyber intel stuff is done in secure spaces that require a security clearance to enter and is not talked about, and I still don't talk about it.

    Aboard ship, "tactical" vs. "support" is not really a distinction that means much. At battle stations, everybody is in the fight. Traditionally, signals and radio communications was a "line" department, that is, the communications officer was in line to take command of the vessel if needed. Because it was vital to controlling ships in battle, it was often considered one of the more "elite" departments (even more so in the British navy). But all departments on a ship except supply and medical are headed by a line officer.

    Navy cryptology officers, OTOH, are restricted line officers, who can't ever take command of a vessel at sea. It is a much smaller community of officers. "Back in the day," some entered directly as college grads, some transferred over from the line, but many, AFAIK the majority, were Limited Duty Officers who came up from enlisted Cryptologic Technicians (the "spooks"). These were very smart, impressive officers BTW. There were very few jobs for them at the rank of commander and above, though. This mostly still applies, I believe, though more positions may have opened up with the emphasis on cyber warfare.

    At the time TOS was made, signal exploitation was limited to shore installations, or specialized undercover "spy" ships (like USS Pueblo). It also was very much unknown, its origins with WW2 navy codebreaking was only beginning to become public knowledge. As the equipment got smaller in the '70s and '80s, that mission began to move on to regular warships. It became a small division under the Operations Department. The Ops Boss, of course, was a line officer. A large vessel like a carrier might have a crypto officer running the division, but on a CG or DDG just a chief of first class CT. Also, on a smaller ship Communications and Crypto might both be part of the Ops department, but again, completely separate. Now, I think, Commo is part of the Combat Systems department (and Radiomen now Information Systems Technicians), and Crypto, or whatever they call it now, is under Ops. One thing that might be confusing is that the division with the CTs is usually the OS division (S for security), while sailors whose rating is OS (Operations Specialist, radar systems) are in the OI division (I for Information, from the Combat Information Center).

    The only time I can think of when something along those lines was mentioned was in "Balance of Terror," when Uhura said "cryptography" was working deciphering a message.

    The uniform colors seem to show the division of the ship where one is currently assigned, and no more than that. No "track" or larger career implications. Besides the obvious example of Spock, Scotty clearly has training to take command the ship and does so very effectively, and Lt. De Salle came up from engineering, in red, to take command.

    Ship and weapons control seems to be the bulk of it. I have said before, if it had been called the "control" division some confusion might have been averted, as a commanding officer seems to be able to come from any of the divisions.
     
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  19. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In Relics, Scotty said (iirc) that he had captained two ships in his time. Janeway when a junior officer was a science officer. In the novels, Ezri Dax went from psychological counseling to command of a ship.
     
  20. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The department colors in TWOK are the same as they were in TMP. Compare the colors of the TWOK undershirts to the circular backgrounds on the TMP Starfleet insignia. They're the same colors. White for command, orange for science, green for medical, gold for engineering, purple/grey for security. The only difference is that red goes from operations to cadets.

    Compare the sections on TMP assignment patches and the TWOK department colors. They're the same. (Which makes sense, seeing as how Robert Fletcher was the costume designer for both movies. No reason for him throw out all of the work he did for TMP.)