RANKS AND UNIFORMS OF UFP STARFLEET
This article attempts to clarify the confusing rank structure and uniform colors in Starfleet. Many ranks were never mentioned, while others were never explained in detail. The question about existence of enlisted personnel in Starfleet must also be answered.
It can be assumed that other major political entities with a semi-military deep space fleet have similar rank structures with different titles. Romulan ranks are usually translated to Terrain Roman equivalents, such as Centurion. Klingon ranks are roughly equivalent in both TOS and TNG.
The information in this article are drawn from the following sources:
The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future Updated (Pocket Books), Star Trek The Next Generation Officers Manual Star Trek The Next Generation Officers Manual Star Trek The Next Generation Officers Manual Star Trek The Next Generation Officers Manual and other FASA products (FASA), Star Trek The Next Generation Technical Journal (Starlog), Mr. Scotts Guide to the Enterprise (Pocket Books), Strategic Designs Starfleet Dynamics, and Star Fleet Technical Manual (TOS)(Ballantine).
Mr. Scotts Guide to the Enterprise (Pocket Books), Star Trek III Sourcebook (FASA) and The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future Updated (Pocket Books) have the rank colors and rank pins for the movies. Strategic Designs Starfleet Dynamics has the specialist pins and the different uniform types.
I have also taken information and extrapolations from fan written web sites all over the world. Thank you.
There are three groups of ranks: Flag Officers, Commissioned Officers, and Enlisted Personnel. Ranks are separated and listed by their groups. Most ranks will have an example, TOS Emblem, and TNG Emblem. A few paragraphs will describe each rank, the positions and functions under that rank, and so on.
Rank stripes in TOS (during the run of the regular series but it does not include the pilots to the series) are worn on the edge of the sleeves. For example a lieutenant commander engineer, "one solid stripe and a broken stripes" is:
For TNG the insignia is worn on the right collar. For examples, a lieutenant commander, with one hollow pip and two solid pips, would look like:
Flag rank (admirals) during TNG wear their rank tabs on both sides of the collar. For example a Flag Admirals rank tab (with three solid pips and border) looks like this:
In Star Trek, the color of the uniform indicates which branch the Starfleet member serves under. The color changed slightly between TOS and TNG with the movies adding a couple more colors.
In general, there are three primary branches onboard a ship: command, science (medical, psychology), and support (engineering, security). This pattern is followed in TOS, TNG, but not the first six movies
In TOS, before and during Kirks first year aboard the Enterprise command and support wore gold and science wore blue. Women wore pants during this time as well. After Kirk's first year in command of the Enterprise command wore gold, science blue, and support red. Captains were also able to wear two different green rap around tunics with their ship's emblem placed in the lower left of the shirt. Also at this time women's uniform pants and shirt combinations were replaced with very short dresses.
In ST1 all uniforms were white, tan, gray, and yellow. The uniforms ranged form short sleeved shirts and pants suits to one piece long sleeved jumpsuits. In both types the boots were attached to the pants and medical scanners were worn where a belt buckle would be. Department colors were located in the circle behind the ship insignia. Command was white, engineering was red, medical was olive green, operations was yellow, science was orange, and security was silver. Rank was indicated on the shoulder of the uniform and on the sleeves. The rank insignia for ST1 is the same as TOS.
In ST2 through STG all the uniforms are maroon jackets, undershirts with ribbed collars and cuffs, black pants, and boots. The branch colors are worn on the undershirt, the shoulder rank ribbon, the service bar on the left sleeve, and department stripe running up the side of both pant legs. Command wore white, medical wore olive green, engineering/helm wore gold, operations wore gray, science wore light blue, and trainees/cadets wore red. The rank insignia was worn on the shoulder rank ribbon and on the left sleeve above the service bar.
Enlisted personnel wore a one piece jumpsuit with red collars and cuffs for trainees and black collars and cuffs for full enlisted. These uniforms are used after graduation from Starfleet Basic Training. Their department color (matching the officers department colors) are located on the department epaulet on the shoulder and the service bar on the left sleeve.
In TNG, command wears red, science blue, and support is gold. During the run of the series the uniforms changed from form fitting one piece jump suits (1st two seasons) to a more relaxed two piece uniforms. The uniform colors and patterns remained the same through out the series.
DS9 introduced the relaxed uniform. A lavender turtle neck undershirt wore under a one piece lose fitting jump suit. The jump suit has department colored shoulders with the rest black.
From STFC Starfleet has once again changed their uniforms. They are now four piece suits. Black pants, shirt (that matches the current Starfleets department colors) a vest (black with a gray upper), and a jacket (Black with gray shoulder upper and department colored bar on the sleeves). Rank is still shown on the collar of under shirt as on the relaxed uniform (DS9, VOY, and STG).
All TNG period uniforms have the communicator pin except for the Recruits. The Recruits only get the pin when in special training, or after promotion to Crewman second class.
In Star Trek (TOS and most of TNG), no distinctions were made among the various grades of admiral, so like the rest of this document this information presented is conjectural.
Flag Officers will almost never command a single ship except in very special circumstances. Kirks assumption of command in ST1 and ST2 are two of them. In ST1 he received temporary reduction of rank to Captain.
There are four grades of admirals: Admiral of Starfleet, Flag Admiral, Vice Admiral, and Rear Admiral. It is acceptable to call all admirals by the title of Admiral, as the difference in the rank is not that great. It is the positions they hold that differentiates them.
In TOS, all branch department head positions are held by Flag Admirals, who usually came up from Command branch.
By TNGs time, the rank can be held by people not of the Command branch. It seems that Dr. McCoy became branch admiral of his own department, Medical.
Major departments at this level include: Fleet Operations, Base Operations, Logistics, Personnel, Security, Science, Engineering, Medical, Research, Colonization, Justice, Exploration, and Starfleet Academy. The departments are sometimes also known as Corps or Command. Examples are Starfleet Engineering Corps and Starfleet Exploration Command.
TOS Flag Officer Uniforms does not appear to be different from commissioned officers except in the rank stripes displayed. The TFS Flag Officer Uniforms are the same as commissioned officer uniforms as well except for minor decoration.
Flag officers uniforms have underwent several changes during the seven seasons of TNG, but it appears to have been stabilized after the third. The style of most were similar to a formal commissioned officer's dress uniform, without the gold trims. On the flag officer's uniform the rank tabs as described above on both collars. The uniforms changed again soon after STFC. The Admirals uniforms now appear very similar to the commissioned officers uniforms.
Rank 5 Star Admiral (Fleet Admiral)
Technically Flag Admirals, Admirals of Starfleet, also referred to as the Commander in Chief or C in C, are considered the highest-ranking Starfleet personnel and their word is second only to the President of the Federation and the Federation Council.
They are usually used as advisors to the Federation Council and President on planetary admissions, military operations, exploration, and policing matters. In other words the Admiral of Starfleet advises the UFP Government on all of the matters of Starfleet. Senior Flag Admirals are used if no other Admirals of Starfeet are appointed or available.
Rank 4 Star Admiral (Flag Admiral)
Flag Admirals make the strategic decisions for Starfleet. There are two types of Flag Admirals. Fleet Admirals are the ones in direct command of Starfleets numbered fleets (i.e. Seventh Fleet - Romulan Border). Branch Admirals are those who command a major department (logistics, personnel, etc.).
Rank 3 Star Admiral (Vice Admiral)
Vice admirals are often involved in a variety of roles, diplomatic, scientific, traditional planning, and organizational tasks. Their diplomatic duties involve Diplomatic liaison and/or negotiations with new member planets.
When commanding ships, vice admirals command special task groups (under the major fleets) of about two dozen ships or more.
Rank 2 Star Admiral (Rear Admiral)
Rear Admirals are usually commanders of an operational fleet of approximately dozen ships. They perform tasks of the admiralty that involves more of a local nature. That is they are usually limited to a more specific astrographical location, such as a sector, quadrant, etc. They are also often the commanders of the starbase central to their command.
Rank Commodore / 1 Star Admiral (Rear Admiral 2nd Class)
Rank of Commodore is exactly halfway in between the flag ranks and the commissioned officer ranks, but is generally considered the lowest Flag rank.
The rank of Commodore has not been seen sense ST1. By TNG the rank of Commodore had became the one star Admiral or Rear Admiral 2nd Class.
The regular officers are the ones actually running the starships and starbases. They include captain, commander, lieutenant commander, lieutenant, lieutenant junior grade (j.g.), ensign, and ensign junior grade (j.g.). Due to the nature of the stories told in Star Trek, almost all the action will involve exclusively officers. On the other hand, commissioned officers comprise less than ten percent of the crew on a starship.
Rank Fleet Captain
A Fleet Captain is the senior captain of a fleet under command of a Rear Admiral. The Rear Admiral will usually delegate the authority to the Fleet Captain, who will actually run the fleet. Later, the rank seems to have evolved into a more administrative position.
This is a confusing rank since it is also a position. Usually a person holding rank of Captain is also captain of a ship. Captains command heavy cruiser or heavier starships. They can also be senior Starfleet ambassadorial attaché. Captains (position) of smaller ships could be of rank of Commander or lower (see Rank of Commander below).
Prior to 2280s, only officers of Command branch can be promoted to and above rank of Captain. However, by the 2280s, this restriction has been dropped. For example Montgomery Scott was promoted to rank of Captain of Engineering in ST3 but he did not get his rank badge until ST5.
The executive officer of a major ship (which has a Captain as captain) is probably a commander. Some smaller ships (frigates, maybe destroyers) are commanded by Commanders and they are known as brevet captains, who are usually addressed as skipper or just See-Oh (CO for Commanding Officer instead of captain) while onboard.
Since cruises on small ships are used to train the commanders for promotion, it is possible for a full captain (albeit a young one, recently promoted) to command a small ship as well. If the XO (Executive Officer, Exec, First Officer, or Number One) is a commander, she is probably the only command branch Commander onboard.
The Chief Medical Officer of a heavy cruiser or above usually holds the rank of full commander.
During a crisis, with the Captain incapacitated, the executive officer can take over as brevet captain. If the Captain cannot be returned to duty, the promotion may be made permanent after the crisis is resolved.
Rank Lieutenant Commander
An officer with rank of Lieutenant Commander could be CO of a frigate or a police corvette, or XO of a ship with a Commander as CO. A Lieutenant Commander may have been given the post of executive officer on a major ship (heavy cruiser or above) and will be promoted to full commander if she can handle the job.
On starships, the Lt. Commanders are usually the department heads (engineering, science, navigation, etc.). The senior department head onboard is probably also the second officer, third in chain of command after Captain and the XO. For example, Data is head of Operations (Ops) and is third in command.
Full lieutenants are the junior officers with the most skill and seniority. They are also the deputy department heads on cruiser or larger vessels, and department heads on smaller ships.
Lieutenants may be in charge of a very small ship, like a freighter, in special situations. Lieutenants are also commanders of fighter-shuttle squadrons at times of war.
Rank Lieutenant Junior Grade
Also known as "jay-gees", these are the junior lieutenants, usually on their second or third cruise. They might be in charge of a very small ship under very special situations. Otherwise they are the ones who get their hands dirty in ships departments. They also could be deputy department heads in the minor departments.
Ensigns are the working officers one of their first cruises. Because an officer is an officer, ensigns are sometimes assigned to command small units or to perform certain tasks that cannot be delegated to petty officers. They can hold bridge duty, but only the most senior do so during primary (day) shift.
Rank Ensign Junior Grade
Ensign Junior Grades are generally officers on their first cruise right out of the academy or enlisted personnel right out of officers training school. Ensign j.g. are sometimes assigned to command small units or to perform certain tasks that cannot be delegated to petty officers. There is very little difference between the ranks of ensign and ensign j.g.. The j.g. will generally be promoted to full ensign shortly. They can hold bridge duty, but only the most senior do so during primary (day) shift.
The rank pin for the j.g. is the same as the rank pin for Chief Warrant Officer.
Rank Cadet / Midshipman
Cadets are neither officers nor enlisted personnel, therefore they are included under commissioned officers, even though they have not yet received their commissions. As students of Starfleet Academy they might be on a ship for a training cruise, as seen in ST2. Once their training is completed, they will go out as ensigns or ensign j.g.. The good ones gets assigned to ships, others to bases, and others to yet other areas.
Naval cadets are sometimes known as midshipmen from old wet navy sailing ship days. However, the term was not used very often in Star Trek. (It was used in ST2 once) Instead, the term Cadet is used rather consistently.
Cadets wear special uniforms that designate their status. In TOS they wore a shirt that was blue, with silver threads, with a black collar and black pants. On the uniform they had semester and year stripes (one semester broken stripe, one-year solid stripe. If you were in your third semester you would have one solid stripe and one broken stripe).
In the SFS they wore officer or enlisted uniforms, depending on if they were officer or enlisted trainees, with a rank pin. For the department color they wore red except on service bar. The service bar is the red with a department color diagonal stripe in the middle.
In TNG they wore special uniforms (red shoulders the rest black or later on they had red shoulders the rest gray with large pockets on pant legs), semester pins (black rectangles) on the right collar.
There should be no doubt that enlisted personnel must exist on a starship, The Making Of Star Trek to the conterary. Indeed, a quick calculation showed that enlisted personnel should comprise about 90% of the crew. An average heavy cruiser of Constitution Class would have one Captain, one Commander, five Lt. Comdr.s, eight Lt.s, ten Lt. j.g.s, fifteen Ensigns and Ensign j.g.s. Since the normal complement of a heavy cruiser is about 430, that leaves about 90% unaccounted for, which must then be enlisted personnel. TOS Star Fleet Technical Manuals Explanation that the crew consists of 45 officers and the rest are all ensigns does not make any sense, since ensigns are still officers.
A confirmed enlisted personnel has been shown in TNG, Crewman First Class Tarsus in "Drumhead"and he wore no pips on the collar.
There appears to be various levels within the ranks. However, no details are available.
Enlisted who showed promise and recommended by officers for further specialized training with in a certain specialty. This includes forms of engineering, medicine, science, communications, and many more. The specialist pin is placed on the right sleeve of uniform in TOS. In the STFS the pin is located on the shoulder straps. In TNG the pin is located to the front of the collar in front of the rank pins.
For an example of these pins please look at Starfleet Dynamics.
This term is any enlisted personnel in Starfleet who holds any rank form Crewman to Chief Warrant Officer
Rank Departmental Chief
Rank Chief Warrant Officer
Rank Warrant Officer
Petty Officers who showed excellent leadership capabilities are promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer. While called an officer, they are non-commissioned officers, and are junior to ensigns. Warrant officer typically commands a group of Petty Officers, often independent of direct supervision by junior officers.
Rank Master Chief Petty Officer
Rank Master Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class
Rank Chief Petty Officer
Rank Petty Officer
Rank Petty Officer 2nd Class
Crewman who showed excellent leadership capabilities are promoted to the rank of Petty Officer. While called an officer, they are non-commissioned officers, and are junior to ensigns. A Petty officers typically commands a group of enlisted personnel, often independent of direct supervision by junior officers.
According to "Family", Sergei Roshenko (Worfs adoptive father) used to be a "petty officer".
Rank Crewman Chief
Rank Crewman First Class
Rank Crewman Second Class
Most crewmen are assigned to starbase duty. Only the best are selected for starship duty.
Crewman Tarsus, the one-eighth Romulan, was a crewman first class in "The Drumhead" and as I said above he wore no pins on his collar.
Recruits usually join Starfleet at the age of eighteen or equivalent maturity levels. They will undergo orientation, and Starfleet Basic Training, plus some specialized training depending on their preference and aptitude. This is really not a rank but a position that is held until graduation of basic training and promotion to Crewman.
As Students of Starfleet Basic Training they might be on a ship for a training cruise. Once their training is completed, they will go out as Crewman. The good ones are assigned to ships, others to bases, and others to yet other areas.
CHAIN OF COMMAND : TOS
CHAIN OF COMMAND: TNG
*Counselor is the head of the Civilian department. See special section The Counselor below
A counselor is the head of the civilian administration (FASAs Officers Manual have a separate department and position of Crewmaster), which qualifies as a department onboard larger Federation starships. This department is under the science/medical department. They are also considered senior bridge officers. A few counselors do not attend Starfleet Academy and so their rank of Lieutenant Commander is honorary. However, most counselors do attended the academy and so earn their ranks. In fact, many go on to command collage. When counselors wear regular uniforms, it would be the blue of the science division but many do not.