Are field commissions a thing?

It was my understanding that, for some period of time, ship’s surgeons (at least in the Royal Navy) could be hired and commissioned by individual ship captains. Although not necessarily historical, my recollection is that the ship’s surgeon in Master and Commander was hired by the captain in some port in Spain and appointed surgeon.

I don’t think that would fall under the “centralized” direct commissions program that the OP described and that currently exist.

Would making your wife an Admiral in the Spanish Navy count? The dying Don Álvaro could have made any of the people in the ship the next leader of the expedition. He chose his wife and she was later confirmed in the position. 16th century.

Actually, most of the “standing” ship’s officers in that era weren’t “commissioned” in the sense of given a commission by the Queen to fight Her Majesty’s enemies, etc… but rather hired through a warrant.

As I understand it, the main difference is that the Admiralty would issue a warrant for the hiring of surgeons, gunners, pursers, sailing masters, and so on, and captains would hire them under the authority of the warrant. Meanwhile, officers were directly commissioned by the Queen, with different authority and command responsibility deriving from that. Warrant officers weren’t in the chain of command as such- they answered to the captain of the ship, whoever that may end up being.

Historically warrants were used to hire all sorts of specialists and slot them into military roles- it was a holdover from the days when you had the “Ship’s company” commanded by a Captain, and he hired the specialists needed to make the ship sail and fight, as he was a gentleman, not a sailor or whatever else.

These days, the difference is a little bit more academic, in that warrant officers have a separate commission- the ranks are effectively for highly specialized positions that are not necessarily directly in the chain of command, but require respect and treatment like officers - specialists like helicopter pilots in the Army, or Infantry Weapons Officers in the USMC, for example.

I still think that Starfleet would probably have looked askance at the “temporary Ensign” appointment of Wesley, unless they were so far outside Starfleet’s reach and influence that Picard needed to appoint an Ensign to fill a role for some reason, and there wasn’t a qualified petty officer or midshipman or something who could fill the role. And I never got the impression that the Enterprise was out there so far that they were ever in the position where they couldn’t just appoint a petty officer to be helmsman for a few months until they could pick up a new one at the nearest Starbase or passing Starfleet ship or whatever. It seemed mostly like a way to keep Wesley in the main cast and on the bridge, not anything actually realistic, even by Star Trek standards.

I mean, if they hadn’t been able to keep the EMH running, the first person with real medical training they found on a random Federation ship out there would probably have been given the job and the rank.

That’s the thing- there WERE no Federation ships in the Delta Quadrant. They were it.

I imagine that had the EMH not worked, they’d probably have done something along the lines of finding the most qualified crewemember and assigning them to learn as much as they could; if they had an EMH, it stands to reason that they probably had all the knowledge needed to teach someone how to perform that job as well. Heck, maybe there was an ETH (emergency teaching hologram) that could conduct classes and teach someone to be a doctor.

Another possibility would have been picking up a Delta Quadrant resident (similar to how Neelix and Kes joined the crew) who was trained in medicine. Hijinks would then hae ensued as that physican learned about the anatomy and medican conditions of Alpha Quadrant species.

It seems, too, that everyone in Starfleet in the TNG universe is an Officer too.

I had a thread about that. I need to see if I can dig it up. IIRC, the response was, "Since everyone’s ‘astronaut-qualified’ everyone gets to be an Officer.

Yay! Pips for everyone!

Well, except for the Voyager, and the Equinox, and the Raven, and when they were able to teleport a Romulan from the Alpha Quadrant, and when the timeship Aeon took them to 1996 and back, or when they find Ferengi profiteers at a wormhole.

OK, some of those weren’t quite Federation ships, but would do for “congrats you’re the doc now” if anyone involved had medical training. It feels like it was about once a season. Kinda like Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island

We’ve had a discussions about this before. Roddenberry said something to that effect about everyone being an officer. The internal evidence from The Original Series is equivocal, though. There are crew members addressed and referred to as “Crewman” and “Yeoman”, for example, but it’s not clear if those are enlisted ranks, as they were historically, or just descriptions of their position on the ship.

In the TNG era, though, there are definitely enlisted personnel. When Chief O’Brien first appears as a random character, he’s wearing officer’s pips, but later in the series, when be becomes a recurring character, he wears a different insignia, and is identified in dialogue as a Chief Petty Officer. There’s an episode of Deep Space Nine where he and (IIRC) Dr. Bashir are captured by the Dominion, and the Dominion interrogator makes a big deal out of how Bashir is an officer and O’Brien is enlisted, and tries to stoke class resentment in O’Brien.

I don’t think this has been directly addressed yet. That would not meet the OP’s specifications. It’s not a “field commission”. It’s a direct commission, which the OP specifically excludes.

I haven’t seen the TNG series in a long time, so I’ll have to re-watch it again this fall. I knew they called him “Chief,” but always figured that was a positional thing.

I was also re-reading @bump 's comment about historical warrants issued by the Captain, and thought to myself:
a) I need to read the whole thread before I jump in with half-assed posts after taking a break from the Internet, and
b) Starfleet Personnel seems to churn out Ensigns like they’re going out of style. I think it’s rare (due to story arcs and dialog issues) to see any Enlisted on Starships outside of TOS, right?

Side note: I’m surprised nobody’s brought up Brevet Ranks yet. Not exactly a field commission, but if all of the Captains and Majors are wiped out, the Colonel can reach down to Lieutenants and pin shinier rank on 'em for the duration of hostilities.

Sorry, I’m on the road, on a tablet. My conversational Dope-fu is limited.

Which brings up the issue of the Ferengi. If the federation is a non-monetary society, what’s the draw for the Ferengi?

It probably was, to start. He served as Transporter Chief on the Enterprise.

In TOS, Transporter Chief Kyle wore a utility uniform without rank insignia. According to Memory Alpha, the same actor, apparently playing the same character, also appeared in other episodes in command/navigation division uniform, with lieutenant’s braids. So, in TOS, Transporter Chief was probably a junior officer posting.

In TNG, O’Brien first appears with officer’s pips, so it was originally probably supposed to be a similar posting. It’s only later in the series, after he became a recurring character, that he appears with a different rank insignia, and he’s identified as a Chief Petty Officer.

As I said, we’ve had discussions on Starfleet’s rank structure on this board before, and I think the upshot is that writers, directors, and costumers never really had a coherent rank structure worked out, and Starfleet’s rank structure can differ significantly from one episode to another.

Like Wesley’s “Acting Ensign” rank, which I don’t think we ever saw in any other examples of in any of the TV series or movies. (I think Naomi Wildman did get an “Acting” rank on Voyager, but that was clearly making a kid feel useful, not a real commission).

In the 1930s my dad recieved a direct commission in the US Navy. His qualifications, He had a 2nd in steam and a 3rd for motor vessels as a Licensed Merchant Marine Officer. To start building up the US Merchant Marine a law was passsed granting US Flagged vessels a subsity with the requirement that 75% of the ship’s officers had to apply and receive a Reserve Naval Commission as an officer. My dad became an EDO (engineering duty only) Ensign. Should have received a Lt Commander’s commision with his licensees and experience, but he uupset the Admiral in his interview. He never completed high school and never had one cllass on military training.

A bit of nit-pickery: we never see Wesley as a proper Ensign. He drops out of the Academy to go check out the universe with the Traveler, and then we don’t see him again until Star Trek Nemesis, where he’s a Junior Lieutenant.

Nitpick: Paris was not Maquis. He was a former criminal given a reprieve. Not sure if he had a rank when Voyager sailed in S1E1 of the series but I think he did. He was part of the crew and driving the ship.

More broadly I can see captain Janeway on Voyager needing to give field commissions to people on the ship. They were many years from home and the ship needs to function. Maintaining a command structure is important so you start slotting people into various positions and give them ranks so everything runs as it should.

Whether Star Fleet agrees once they return is a different question (if they never went through Star Fleet academy do they get to keep the rank? Do they get all their back-pay at that ranks for all those years? Do they get pensions commensurate with time at that rank? What about people who never got promoted as they normally would have?). Star Trek hints that there is no money in the future but they are a little loosey-goosey about that.

Yeah, that was m

Yeah, that was kind of my thinking as well- it was more or less a move of desperation to bring the Maquis (and Paris) into the Voyager crew, as Voyager was short handed, and the Maquis didn’t have anywhere else to go.

The question of what happens after Voyager returns is one that I always wondered about myself. I don’t know about just promoting everyone en-masse more than maybe one grade, but for some of the lower-ranking crewpeople that wouldn’t put them on parity with their non-Voyager enlisted peers. I mean, 7 years into a US military career, and you could easily be an E-4/E-5, and theoretically even an E-7. Or an Ensign in the Navy would be a full Lieutenant after seven years of service, and not be too far from Lieutenant Commander. So Harry Kim would need a couple of promotions to be where he would have otherwise been. Paris would have been in line (had he been a Starfleet officer) for at least one promotion, if not two to Lieutenant Commander. Chakotay and Janeway would have likely remained in grade- Janeway would have been bucking for Admiral at that point though.

I think without money, back-pay is a moot issue. But I’m sure promotions would be a very hot topic on their return.

IIRC this did occur, and aircrew were made NCOs on the spot. But they did “volunteer”. AFAIK, they all completed their training, just not right then & there. But again, AFAIK, this was under the authority of a Commanding General.

Hired yes, but not commissioned. There was a special commission for such.

During the Age of Sail, the Royal Navy carried trained medical officers aboard its warships, who usually learned their trade before coming on board ship. They were generally called surgeons. The Navy Board qualified surgeons through an examination at the Barber-Surgeons’ Company and they were responsible to the Sick and Wounded Board under the Navy Board.[2]

Lots of times the captain would promote someone to some rank, but all the commissioned or warranted ranks had to be later confirmed by the relevant Commission.

Yeah, but as mentioned…they are inconsistent on that point. For example, in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Quark’s Bar is a regular hangout with food, drink, and entertainment including gambling. Quark charges for all of that and, somehow, DS9 staff pays him when there.

As I understood it, the Federation didn’t have money internally. Or maybe just the Earth part.

But when dealing with other planets/empires, there was gold-pressed latinum as a currency/medium of exchange.

I’m not sure how they’d handle that; nobody’s really brought up the concept of a post-scarcity society dealing with scarcity societies, except maybe the Culture books by Iain Banks, and IIRC in those, the people (Special Circumstances) could just requisition whatever was valuable for use as currency where they needed it.

I suspect that if the writers were forced to clarify, they’d have the station have a budget, and also pay their crew with it for spending cash, but they’d still have their needs met via replicators, etc…