Starfleet ranks and insignia: Wikis


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The Starfleet insignia in the late 23rd century

Starfleet ranks and insignia are fictional titles and badges that form the hierarchy of Starfleet in the Star Trek television shows and movies. Starfleet's ranks seem to be based on those used by the United States Navy.



In Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, ranks are indicated by sleeve stripes; in later movies based on The Original Series, ranks are indicated by pins on a shoulder strap. In later television series, ranks are indicated by varying numbers of pips or bars on the individuals' uniform collars.

Some licensed Star Trek publications present some insignia that contradict the ones shown on screen or in other publications. For example, the second and third editions of The Star Trek Encyclopedia offer differing insignia for various Starfleet ranks.[1] Additionally, some Star Trek publications, including officially licensed ones, posit additional ranks that are not seen or mentioned in live-action productions.



Star Trek: Enterprise, set prior to all other incarnations, did not include characters who hold the ranks of lieutenant commander or lieutenant, junior grade. The highest-ranking admiral seen wears two sets of three-pip insignia.

The Original Series pilot episodes

Officers in the first Star Trek pilot, "The Cage", wear a single sleeve stripe, with only the officer grades "lieutenant" and "captain" used in dialog. A "chief" is also visible wearing a different sleeve stripe. Characters addressed as "crewman" wear no sleeve insignia.

In the second pilot episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", most officers again wear a single stripe; Captain James T. Kirk wears two stripes. Gary Mitchell is identified as a lieutenant commander.

The Original Series and The Motion Picture

Costumes in The Original Series were designed by William Ware Theiss and indicate rank with sleeve stripes. Bob Fletcher continued this system when he designed the uniforms for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. There are fewer stripes than are on US Navy uniforms because four stripes for a captain would have looked "too militaristic".[2]

Original Series Flag Officer ranks
Fleet Admiral Admiral Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Commodore
STTOS Starfleet Fleet Admiral rank.jpg[3] STTOS Starfleet Admiral rank.jpg[3] STTOS Starfleet Vice Admiral rank.jpg[3] STTOS Starfleet Rear Admiral rank.jpg[3] STTOS Starfleet Commodore rank.jpg[3]
Original Series Officer ranks
Captain Commander Lieutenant
Lieutenant Lieutenant,
Junior Grade
STTOS Starfleet Captain rank.jpg[3] STTOS Starfleet Commander rank.jpg[3] STTOS Starfleet Lieutenant Commander rank.jpg[3] STTOS Starfleet Lieutenant rank.jpg[3] STTOS Starfleet Lieutenant Junior Grade rank.jpg[3] FlanstosEnsign.jpg[3]

A rank of fleet captain is mentioned in two episodes, but no insignia is shown. An August 3, 1978 memo describing the sleeve stripes for The Motion Picture does not mention the rank of lieutenant j.g., assigning its insignia to ensign, and identifies the rear admiral insignia as having one double-width stripe below one regular-width stripe.

In The Original Series, every member of Starfleet wears an assignment patch on their left breast, which varies from ship to ship.[4] Within this assignment patch is a symbol that represents the officer's department, with Operations, Science, and Command represented by a spiral, a circle, and a star, respectively. In The Motion Picture, the emblem used as the USS Enterprise's assignment patch in The Original Series is used as an emblem by the entire Starfleet.[5] The reason for this has never been canonically established, although Gene Roddenberry's novelization of The Motion Picture states that it was in honor of the Enterprise, which was the only ship of its class to return from its five-year mission with ship and crew mostly intact. Star Trek (2009), set in an alternate version of The Original Series, also uses the Enterprise emblem for the entirety of Starfleet. In The Motion Picture, the department is indicated by the background color of the circle on which the Starfleet arrowhead is set, white indicating Command, red for Engineering, orange for Science, pale gold for Operations, green for Medical, and gray for Security.[2]

The Motion Picture to Generations

Fletcher redesigned the costumes for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This design is used in the following movies, up to Star Trek Generations, and variations appear in some flashback scenes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. In this costume, Starfleet officers wear rank insignia on the uniform shoulder strap and left sleeve just above the armband.

During this era, insignia representing departments are not worn; it is instead indicated by the color of the shoulder strap, arm band, and undershirt.[4] A Starfleet insignia is worn on the left breast.

Flag officers also wore an arm band on their left sleeve just below the rank insignia that denoted their rank.

Flag Officer ranks
Commander in Chief Fleet Admiral Admiral
CNC.jpg[6] FADM.jpg[6] ADM.jpg[6]
Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Commodore
VADM.jpg[6] RADM.jpg[6] COMM.jpg[6]
Flag Officer ranks
Fleet Admiral Admiral Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Commodore
Fleet Admiral.jpg[6] Admiralflans44.jpg[6] Vice Admiral.jpg[6] Rear Admiral flans44.jpg[6] Commodoreflans44.jpg[6]
Officer ranks
Captain Commander Lieutenant
Lieutenant Lieutenant,
Junior Grade
Captainflans44.jpg[6] Commanderflans44.jpg[6] Lt Comm.jpg[6] Lta.jpg[6] Lt jgflans44.jpg[6] Ensignflans44.jpg[6]

Enlisted crew in the TOS movie era wear the following insignia on their left sleeve:

Enlisted ranks
Master Chief Petty Officer Senior Chief Petty Officer Chief Petty Officer Petty Officer 1st Class Petty Officer 2nd Class Able Seaman
MCPOflans44.jpg[6] SCPOflans44.jpg[6] CPOflans44.jpg[6] PO1C.jpg[6] PO2C real.jpg[6] Able Seamanf.jpg[6]

The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager

During all the shows set in the 24th century, a consistent insignia scheme is used for officers: a series of four gold pips, either a solid color or an outline, worn on each officer's right collar. After the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a consistent scheme is also used for admiral insignia: a series of gold circles inside a black rectangle with a gold border worn on both collars.[4]

For the first season of TNG, admirals wear a different insignia, consisting of a triangle or stripe resembling gold weave along the right collar; one or two gold pips are sometimes underneath the weave. Three variants are visible in "Conspiracy": Admiral Quinn's insignia has no pips, Admiral Savar's has one, and Admiral Aaron's has two.

Star Trek: Voyager introduces what The Star Trek Encyclopedia refers to as "provisional ranks" for the titular ship's Maquis crew. All ranks up to Captain appear on screen; The Star Trek Encyclopedia shows them all to be analogous to the normal rank system.[4]

A Starfleet insignia is worn on the left breast: this also functions as a communicator badge. This commbadge insignia was redesigned for the movie Star Trek Generations (the only surviving part of a planned redesign of the uniforms), replacing the oval with a trapezoid.[7] This new commbadge is also used in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from season three, and in Voyager.

Enlisted and cadet ranks are seen rarely; their insignia are unclear.

Officer ranks
Rank Captain Commander Lieutenant
Lieutenant Lieutenant,
Junior Grade
TNG, DS9, VOY Star Trek TNG OF5b.png[4] Star Trek TNG OF4.png[4] Star Trek TNG OF3.png[4] Star Trek TNG OF2.png[4] Star Trek TNG OF1a.png[4] Star Trek TNG OF1b.png[4]
Voyager provisional Voyager OF5.png[4] Voyager OF4.png[4] Voyager OF3.png[4] Voyager OF2.png[4] Voyager OF1a.png[4] Voyager OF1b.png[4]

Alternate realities and 29th century

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Future Imperfect", officers wear a series of stripes behind the Starfleet delta. Another episode, "Parallels", see this in addition to the collar insignia; the bars correspond to the rank of the officer, matching the number (and type) of rank pips.

The 29th-century officers in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Relativity" wear chevron-like collar insignia.



Examples of Admirals in the Star Trek universe:

Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway, former commanding officer of the USS Voyager, promoted after returning from the Delta Quadrant
Rear Admiral James T. Kirk, former commanding officer of the USS Enterprise, promoted following completion of five-year mission, subsequently demoted to Captain following Probe incident.

Admiral Christopher Pike, former commanding officer of the USS Enterprise.


The rank of Commodore in Starfleet is one grade immediately above Fleet Captain and below that of Admiral. Commodore is a flag officer level rank as denoted by the broad gold sleeve band. Their duties appear to be particular to a specific officer's career path rather than to rank. Some Commodores serve in the field as task group leaders or ship commanders. Others are base commanders or administrative officers.

Several Commodores were introduced in The Original Series:

  • Commodore Barstow, an administrator.[8]
  • Commodore Matthew Decker, commanding officer of the USS Constellation.[9]
  • Commodore Jose I. Mendez, commander of Starbase 11.[10]
  • Commodore Stocker, in command of Starbase 10.[11]
  • Commodore Stone, commander of Starbase 11 preceding Commo. Mendez (see above).[12]
  • Commodore Travers, commander of base on Cestus III.[13]
  • Commodore Robert Wesley, leader of a task force and commanding officer of the USS Lexington.[14]

The animated series added one officer:

Fleet Captain

"Fleet Captain" appears only twice, and only in The Original Series:

  • Fleet Captain Garth of Izar, off active duty for treatment of mental illness and confined to treatment facility on Elba II.[16]
  • Fleet Captain Christopher Pike, assigned to Starbase 11 after sustaining catastrophic radiation poisoning. [10]

It is uncertain if "Fleet Captain" is an actual Starfleet rank or merely an honorary title. For example, the name plate on the door to Pike's room on Starbase 11 reads simply "Captain Christopher Pike" and not "Fleet Captain Christopher Pike", which suggests that the title "Fleet Captain" is only an honorary title and not a rank. Moreover, no rank insignia for a Fleet Captain has ever been seen on-screen in any canon production.


In the Star Trek universe, Captain can refer either to a commissioned Starfleet officer rank or the title held by the commander of a ship irrespective of his/her actual rank. Officers with the rank of Captain are usually depicted as the commanding officers of starships or starbases. Dozens of captains, both seen and unseen, have played minor and major roles throughout Star Trek's various incarnations.

The rank first appears in Star Trek's initial pilot, "The Cage", and is held by Christopher Pike, who commands the USS Enterprise.

Captain Jonathan Archer commands Star Trek: Enterprise's titular ship one hundred years before Captains Pike and James T. Kirk command a starship of the same name. Pike wears a single rank stripe, the same as all other officers aboard the USS Enterprise. Kirk, however, wears distinct captain's insignia. In TNG, DS9 and VOY, the insignia for a captain is four gold pips on the collar.

The Animated Series states that Captain Robert April preceded Pike as commander of the Enterprise. However, while April's tenure as commander of the Enterprise is generally accepted by fans, Star Trek's producers have never made this canon.[4]

Other captains who appear in The Original Series include two captains on Kirk's court-martial board in "Court Martial", Captain Ronald Tracey of the USS Exeter in "The Omega Glory", and the dead captain of the USS Defiant in "The Tholian Web". Mentioned, but never seen, is Captain Harris of the Excalibur (The Ultimate Computer).[4]

The Star Trek feature films include multiple captains, starting with Willard Decker in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and continuing with Spock's promotion to captain at some point before the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.[4] Spock becomes captain of the Enterprise, although he eventually returns to serving as Kirk's first officer. Montgomery Scott is promoted to the rank of captain in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and is assigned as Captain of Engineering for the USS Excelsior, but, after a brief assignment, continues to serve as chief engineer under Kirk. This is case in point-holding the rank of Captain but not the position of "commanding officer."[4] Star Trek III also includes Captain Styles, commanding officer of the USS Excelsior.[4] Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home includes the first appearance of a female Starfleet captain, in command of the USS Saratoga.[4] Hikaru Sulu is promoted to captain and becomes commanding officer of the USS Excelsior a few years before the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country[4] (a scene mentioning Sulu's promotion to captain and assignment as commander of the Excelsior was scripted but cut from Star Trek II).[17] William Riker is promoted to captain in Star Trek: Nemesis and is given command of the USS Titan.[18]

Other Star Trek captains include Captain John Harriman of the Enterprise-B, Captain Rachel Garrett of the Enterprise-C, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise-D and Enterprise-E, Captain Benjamin Sisko of the space station Deep Space Nine and the starship USS Defiant, and Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager.[4]

In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Timeless", Captain Geordi La Forge is in command of the USS Challenger in an alternate future in which Harry Kim and Chakotay are attempting to save Voyager from being destroyed in the past after a failed test of a new propulsion system. The USS Challenger under Captain La Forge is dispatched to capture Harry and Chakotay on the Delta Flyer. La Forge was shown with the same four rank pips as Captains from TNG, DS9, and VOY.


In the Star Trek universe, the rank of Commander is granted to qualified officers of sufficient seniority in Starfleet. Officers with the rank of Commander are usually depicted as the executive officer of a starship or starbase or as the commanding officer of a second-line starship or starbase. Star Trek characters holding the rank of Commander include Commander Spock, first officer and science officer of the USS Enterprise; Commander Charles Tucker III, chief engineer of Enterprise NX-01; Commander William T. Riker, first officer of the USS Enterprise-D; Commander Benjamin Sisko, first commanding officer of starbase Deep Space Nine; and Commander Chakotay (Maquis/Provisonal), executive officer of the USS Voyager. In the feature film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Pavel Chekov is a Commander and first officer of the USS Reliant.

Some officers achieve the rank of Commander but do not become the commanding officer or a first officer of a starship. A notable example is Beverly Crusher, Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise-D. Deanna Troi is promoted to Commander after passing a Bridge Officers Exam.

Lieutenant Commander

Lieutenant Commander is the common rank for the more senior officers aboard most ships. These include Chief Medical officer Dr. Leonard McCoy and Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott in the original series as well as Data and Deanna Troi in the Next Generation. A few officers who had a lower rank in the beginning of a series eventually rose to this rank in future seasons. Notable characters in this circumstance are Geordi La Forge in The Next Generation, Jadzia Dax in Deep Space Nine and Tuvok in Voyager. Worf was promoted on-screen to Lieutenant Commander in the feature film Star Trek: Generations.

When addressing a Lieutenant Commander in person, they are typically referred to as a "Commander", such as "Commander Data".


A Lieutenant has an intermediate level of experience. They have a respectable amount of privileges and duties on a starship, sometimes even having dual positions. They frequently serve as the bridge between senior and junior officers. Notable Lieutenants include Uhura and Hikaru Sulu in The Original Series, Tasha Yar, Geordi La Forge and Worf in The Next Generation, Jadzia Dax and Julian Bashir in Deep Space Nine, Tuvok and B'Elanna Torres (Maquis/Provisional) in Voyager, and Malcolm Reed in Enterprise.

Lieutenant (Junior Grade or J.G.)

As the title suggests, a Lieutenant Junior Grade has less authority than a Lieutenant but more than an Ensign. Notable characters seen at the rank of Lieutenant J.G. are Geordi La Forge, Worf and Reginald Barclay in The Next Generation, Julian Bashir, Ezri Dax and Nog in Deep Space Nine, Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres (Maquis/Provisional) in Voyager, and Saavik in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

In the TNG episode "Tapestry", Q sends Captain Jean-Luc Picard into the past to prevent the loss of his organic heart, a near-death experience. When returned to the present, he is a Lieutenant J.G. and a science officer, much to his chagrin. Eventually, Q allows Picard to restore his former life, which includes his artificial heart and the rank of Captain.


In the Star Trek universe, the rank of Ensign is a commissioned rank typically granted to new graduates from Starfleet Academy, and as such are the most inexperienced officers in Starfleet. Star Trek characters holding the rank of Ensign include Pavel Chekov, navigator of the USS Enterprise; (Acting) Ensign Wesley Crusher, unofficial conn officer of the USS Enterprise-D, granted field promotion by Capt. Jean-Luc Picard; Harry Kim, chief operations officer of the USS Voyager; Hoshi Sato, communications officer and Ensign Travis Mayweather served on board as the Chief Helmsman of the USS Enterprise NX-01 and Ezri Dax, Counselor of starbase Deep Space Nine and ninth host of the Dax symbiont. Other notable Ensigns were Ro Laren, a Bajoran, and Nog, a Ferengi.

Tom Paris was demoted to the rank of Ensign and spent thirty days in the brig after disobeying a direct order. After a year of favorable duty, he regained the rank of Lieutenant (Junior Grade).


Used to distinguish chief warrant officers. As an non-commisioned member of Starfleet, a Chief, regardless of experience, is outranked by an Ensign. Miles O'Brien is a Chief Petty Officer in TNG and Deep Space Nine.


A non-officer.

Continuity conflicts

TOS movies

Fleet capt.jpg
MCPO 2nd Class insignia
MCPO 2nd Classb.jpg[4]

The pins seen in the Star Trek motion pictures have generated several alternate and conflicting versions from various official, semi-official, and non-canon sources.

The 1986 book Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise identifies the insignia at left as a "commodore" insignia while The Star Trek Encyclopedia refers to it as a "fleet captain" insignia.[4][19] The Encyclopedia also lists a "Master Chief Petty Officer, 2nd Class" insignia, which is the same as the MCPO, but without the hat.

Additionally, there are different representations of the lieutenant commander rank pin. Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise, and subsequent sources such as the Star Trek Encyclopedia, show a design different from that worn by Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.[4][19][20] A third version of the pin, showing a solid vertical bar, appeared in Hollywood Pins' catalogs.

Lieutenant Commander insignia
Lt Comm.jpg
Star Trek VI[20]
Lt Comm alternate.jpg
Mr. Scott's Guide[19]
Hollywood Pins

Fletcher's notes indicate that the "hat" and other parts of some of the enlisted rank pins are steel gray while The Star Trek Encyclopedia has diagrams of the same parts of these pins colored in gold.

TNG and later series

Miles O'Brien wears two gold pips and is referred to as a lieutenant early in The Next Generation. While wearing this insignia in "Family", he is referred to as a chief petty officer by Worf's adoptive father; the TNG Companion regards this as an error.[21] He wears this insignia until the sixth season, when he wears a hollow gold pip identified by The Star Trek Encyclopedia as the "chief warrant officer" insignia. In the pilot episode of Deep Space Nine, "Emissary", he again wears a two-pip insignia; the episode's novelization refers to him as "ensign, junior grade".[22] He wears the one-pip device in the next episode, "Past Prologue".[23] From the fourth season on, he wears a new rank insignia, and dialog in "Hippocratic Oath" identifies him as a "chief petty officer". Deep Space Nine's writers explained that they disliked the term "petty officer" and thus originally avoided using it; O'Brien's insignia is intended to represent the second-highest petty officer rank.[24] Ronald D. Moore suggested that O'Brien, if promoted, would become a master chief petty officer.[25]

Other insignia appear but the rank, if any, they denote is uncertain. Examples include Kosinski's insignia in "Where No One Has Gone Before" and Luther Sloan's insignia in "Inquisition".

The Star Trek: Next Generation Officer's Manual, a roleplaying manual published by FASA Corporation in 1988, shortly before it lost its license, includes insignia for TNG-era commodores, fleet captains, and branch admirals.[26]

See also


  1. ^ Okuda, Mike; Denise Okuda with Mirek, Debbie (1997). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-35607-9.   and Okuda, Mike; Denise Okuda with Mirek, Debbie (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53609-5.   Images accessible at "Rank Comparison". Spike's Star Trek Page Rank Chart. Retrieved 2006-12-26.  
  2. ^ a b Sackett, Susan and Gene Roddenberry (1980). The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Pocket Books. ISBN 0671791095.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Okuda, Michael & Denise (1997). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-35607-9.   Images accessible at "2265-2370 Ranks". Spike's Star Trek Page Rank Chart. Retrieved 2006-12-26.  
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Okuda, Michael & Denise (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53609-5.  
  5. ^ Okuda, Mike; Okuda, Denise (1996). Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-53610-9.  
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Fletcher, Robert (1986). Robert Fletcher's Wardrobe Designer Personal Notes of Star Trek I-II-III. California: Lincoln Enterprises.   Graphic Images accessible at "2278-2350 Ranks & Rates". Spike's Star Trek Page Rank Chart. Retrieved 2006-12-26.  
  7. ^ "New Movie Costumes Planned". Star Trek Monthly (Titan Magazines): p. 7. June 1996.  
  8. ^ Star Trek: "The Alternative Factor"
  9. ^ Star Trek: "The Doomsday Machine"
  10. ^ a b Star Trek: "The Menagerie"
  11. ^ Star Trek: "The Deadly Years"
  12. ^ Star Trek: "Court Martial"
  13. ^ Star Trek: "Arena"
  14. ^ Star Trek: "The Ultimate Computer"
  15. ^ Star Trek: "The Counter Clock Incident"
  16. ^ Star Trek: "Whom Gods Destroy"
  17. ^ Takei, George (1995). To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei, Star Trek's Mr. Sulu. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-89009-3.  
  18. ^ Star Trek Nemesis.
  19. ^ a b c Johnson, Shane (1987). Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-63576-X.  
  20. ^ a b Nemeck, Larry (January 2007), "A Fistful of Data", Star Trek Magazine (Titan): p. 81  
  21. ^ Nemeck, Larry (2003). Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion. Pocket Books. ISBN 0-7434-5798-6.  
  22. ^ Dillard, J.M.; Michael Piller and Rick Berman (1998-02-01). Emissary. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Pocket Books. ISBN 0671798588.  
  23. ^ Spelling, Ian (June 1996). ""A Question of Rank..."". Star Trek Monthly (Titan Magazines): p. 55.  
  24. ^ Erdmann, Terry with Block, Paula M (2000). Deep Space Nine Companion. Pocket Books. ISBN 0671501062.  
  25. ^ "Answers". August 28, 1998.  
  26. ^ Stuart, Rick & Terra, John (1988). "Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer's Manual". Chicago: FASA Corporation. ISBN 1-55560-079-4.  
  • The TOS braid featured in the pictures above was recreated by Joseph Kerezman

External links


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