Career Officer
Join Date: Sep 2012
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# 1 Captain Vs. XO Giving Orders
12-10-2012, 05:00 PM
Something just popped in my mind that I've wondered about ever since I first saw TNG in prime time. It would seem that the captain of the ship would be the one giving the orders and the XO might relay the required tasks to complete that order to his team.

I remember on more than one occasion when the evil alien of the week appeared Riker would yell out "Red Alert!" even though Picard was standing right there. Other times Riker would seem to give orders that Picard should have been giving (Keep our bow on the Scimitar, etc.).

I never really noticed this with any ST iteration other than TNG. Riker had a more forceful personality than Picard, so maybe he was overstepping his boundaries and Picard was letting it go. Or maybe the writers liked Riker more.

Any one with military experience have any experiences with orders given like this in the RL military? The XO giving orders the CO should be giving would seem to be insubordination to me. Did anyone even notice this? It drove me crazy.

Porthos is not amused.
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# 2
12-10-2012, 05:36 PM
I think it's a Starfleet-only thing. The XO is allowed to make supplemental orders in battle, allowing the captain to focus on more important aspects, but only so long as the two's plan don't clash.

I'm just guessing
Was named Trek17, but still an author.
Lieutenant
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 96
# 3
12-10-2012, 09:32 PM
The Enterprise D was a ship of exploration and diplomacy and Picard was a captain that reflected that.
Picard might as well have been an admiral with the pomp surrounding him. His #1 got all the work done while Picard focused on the bigger picture, made the critical/unusual decisions, and represented the federation.

Really, I think he was only an accidental tactician to begin with.

EDIT: Battlestar Galactica has a similar dynamic, leading me to believe this is common practice.

Adama, "Get us out of here."
Tygh, "Scramble fighters! Target the nearest base star! Plot jump! Spin up the FTLs! Recall the fighters! Find out I'm a cylon! Retract landing pylons! Jump!"

Last edited by trahl; 12-10-2012 at 09:43 PM.
Career Officer
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# 4
12-11-2012, 01:44 AM
It was about trust. Picard knew Riker would not do anything to put the ship or its crew in danger..

Besides, Starfleet isn't as rigid in my book as the military, so are a bit more team orientated. Yes the buck stops with Picard, and he has made decisions that Riker disagreed with, but again, he trusts Picard....

Go back and watch the pilot and you will see the more military orientated crew as they do not really know each other, but a few years on you get used to your crew and how it performs etc..

That's how I view it anyways

Last edited by darkenzedd; 12-11-2012 at 01:47 AM.
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# 5
12-11-2012, 04:26 AM
My view is that the Captain sets policy and everyone below him/her carry's that out. So I would imagine that Riker's been given authority by Picard to carry out specific duties, while he maintains an overall view of what's going on. Last thing you want your Captain to be doing is the little detail work, while he has to be focused on the big picture. That's how I've viewed Picard and Riker's relationship and the relationship of CO's and XO's I had in the past 18 years of Naval Service (or at least the good ones).
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# 6
12-11-2012, 08:36 AM
I'm of the mindset that the captain only really needed to do the captain level things. As such, the First Officer takes care of most of the day-to-day ship business, including most issues between the lower ranks. The captain would still probably be informed later on of anything worth bringing up.

The main time the XO might not be told about something, is when it involves a Department Head doing something on the ship that would need the captain's permission. Like engineeering taking the warp core offline for a day to do...whatever.

All of this would generally allow the captain to focus on larger, more important issues and orders.

Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 3,275
# 7
12-11-2012, 09:34 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by trek21 View Post
I think it's a Starfleet-only thing. The XO is allowed to make supplemental orders in battle, allowing the captain to focus on more important aspects, but only so long as the two's plan don't clash.

I'm just guessing
Typical naval tradition- it IS the Captains command but the XO runs the ship. Captain carry's out his orders from fleet command while the XO ensures the ship and crew are prepared for the task.
KBF Lord MalaK
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Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,574
# 8
12-11-2012, 01:11 PM
You Went Over My Helmet???!!!!
That redshirt, Totally got vaped!!!
Captain
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Posts: 539
# 9
12-11-2012, 01:28 PM
Actually you'd have an officer stand a watch called Officer of the Deck or OOD. They would be in charge of the day to day routine of the ship and would be supervised by the CO. They would be capable of running the ship while the CO slept of did Captain-y things. The OOD would stand watch with a Conning officer, whose only job was to giver orders to the helm and lee helm and the Junior officer of the Watch that acted as an assistant to the OOD.
In battle situations the ship would go to its most experience OOD and his team to take over.
If the CO had to take over and give orders it would look bad on the OOD.
Also in battle situations the XO would not be on the bridge. He would be in Engineering. His main job would be to control the damage control teams. Having him on the bridge would mean one lucky shot and a ship would lose the CO and XO.
Captain
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# 10
12-11-2012, 01:33 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by khan5000 View Post
Also in battle situations the XO would not be on the bridge. He would be in Engineering. His main job would be to control the damage control teams. Having him on the bridge would mean one lucky shot and a ship would lose the CO and XO.
This brings up another question - while I am aware of the budgetary considerations in reality, one wonders why more battles weren't conducted, at least in part, from the Battle Bridge. The thing is likely fully functional even without saucer separation so long as the control systems are turned on and connected to the computer, and it's a battle-ready bridge so it's probably just as rugged as the regular bridge in terms of redundancies and backups. Instead, though, they keep their XO, CO, and most of the senior staff in the bridge that's right on top of the ship.

I am aware of some arguments, e.g. "it makes it easier to give it direct shield support," and I am aware of Gene Roddenberry's rules on this one, but still, once it translates in-universe it's more than a little strange when you consider the pragmatics involved.
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