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Sim

The ranks of the TOS crew

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I wondered about the ranks of the TOS crew in the movies.

In TMP, Kirk is admiral and takes command of the Enterprise again, Decker is captain of rank but has to settle for the position of first officer, Spock picks up the role as science officer after returning. Scotty's rank (lt. commander or commander) doesn't matter much, because he's in engineering anyway, much like McCoy is chief medical officer. I suppose Sulu is still lt. commander, Uhura is lieutenant and Chekov has become a lieutenant to, I guess -- but the three maintain their old positions.

Now in TWOK, the Enterprise is a mere training ship, Captain Spock is commanding it. Sulu is apparently still at the helm and Uhura at communications. Then Admiral Kirk takes over the ship to start the mission to retrieve Genesis. We learn that Chekov has become commander now and is first officer of Captain Terrell's ship ... right?

In TSFS and TVH, the ranks don't matter much, because they're on an "inofficial" rogue mission.

Now it gets a little confusing: By the end of TVH, Admiral Kirk is demoted back to captain, and gets the command of the ENT-A. They also say on court that the charges against the other officers are dropped.

So how comes that the old crew is back to their old positions by the end of TVH/during TFF? Spock is supposedly still captain, on par with Kirk, yet is "only" first officer. Chekov is commander, but "only" navigator, which is a step back, given he used to be first officer before. What about Sulu? Has he become commander too, by now? Yet he's at the helm. So how comes they're on such "low" positions compared to their ranks? Were they demoted as well? Or are they not really a crew, but just assigned to these positions for this one mission? Or is it not so uncommon afterall to man these positions with relatively high-ranking officers?

In TUC, it's a special situation ... Spock in on board in the role of ambassador. Captain Sulu commands the Excelsior. But commander Chekov is still at navigation? But okay, it was a unique mission and perhaps Kirk wanted his old crew back.

What do you make of this? Are there maybe explanations for their ranks and positions given in the novels?

Edited by Sim

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I'm not an expert, but in the US navy (and others, I believe) it is possible to have more than one captain rank aboard the vessel; for example, an executive officer can achieve the captain rank but still be subordinate to his actual captain or commanding officer.   Like Captain Spock or Capt. Scott (he was captain of engineering) serving under Capt. Kirk in STV and STVI.   

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Once we get into the movies, I think the assignments aboard the ship are more mission-specific, regardless of their actual rank, as time goes by.  Kirk, Spock, and Bones became crew members in TMP to confront the crisis even though they were not originally assigned to the ship.  Scotty, Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu were crew members, presumably intending to serve under Decker.

In TWOK, it seems to me that the crew volunteered to serve aboard ship to be back on the Enterprise and under the command of Kirk and Spock.  Kirk did say, "I for one am glad to have you aboard for the next three weeks, Mr. Sulu.  I don't think these kids can steer."  The crew members were acting as instructors for the students.  That suggests a temporary assignment, one that got extended after the events in the Mutara Nebula.

TSFS and TVH didn't really have any ranks since the crew had gone rogue, but Kirk got demoted to Captain and given the Enterprise-A at the end. I think by that time the crew had been together for so long that the powers that be didn't see any sense in upsetting the command structure until one of them (like Sulu) opted to leave the ship to pursue a command of his or her own.  In TUC, the peace accords were clearly a "last hurrah" for ship and crew, with the majority pursuing other posts or retiring.

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Movie Ranks:

Kirk - I-IV Rear Admiral, IV-VI Captain

Spock - I-Commander II-VI Captain

McCoy - I-VI Commander

Scotty - I-II Commander, III-VI Captain

Sulu - I Lt. Commander, II-V Commander, VI Captian

Uhura - I Lt. Commander, II-VI Commander

Chekov - I Lt., II-VI Commander

Yeah, it all makes sense until the end of TVH and TFF.... TUC makes a bit more sense where it was a special peace mission.

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