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Ensign

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Multiple realities
(covers information from several alternate timelines)
Ensign insignia
Ent ens.png

Starfleet, 22nd century

Starfleet, 22nd century
Officer stripe, 2254-2265.png

Starfleet, 2250s - 2260s

Starfleet, 2250s - 2260s
Tos ltjg.png

Starfleet, Mid 2270s

Starfleet, Mid 2270s
Mov ens.png

Starfleet, Late 2270s - 2350s

Starfleet, Late 2270s - 2350s
Tng ensign.png

Starfleet, 2350s -

Starfleet, 2350s -
Vgr ensign.png

Starfleet (provisional), 2370s

Starfleet (provisional), 2370s
Alternate Ensign insignia
Mirror ens.png

Terran Starfleet, 22nd century
(mirror universe)

Terran Starfleet, 22nd century
(mirror universe)
Altensignrank.png

Starfleet, 2250s (alternate reality)

Starfleet, 2250s (alternate reality)
A.I. Starfleet ENS.png

Starfleet, 2370 (alternate timeline)

Starfleet, 2370 (alternate timeline)
29th ens.png

Starfleet, 29th century

Starfleet, 29th century
For the actor, please see Michael Ensign.

Ensign is a military rank, the equivalent of which is used by the service organizations of many civilizations. As a traditional naval grade, ensign is the most junior line officer rank below the lieutenant grades, usually immediately under lieutenant or lieutenant junior grade.

Duties and responsibilities

The rank of ensign is usually the first commissioned rank assigned to new officers (such as recent graduates of Starfleet Academy). This naval rank is equivalent to the rank of second lieutenant which is found in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

An ensign's primary duty is professional growth, both as a leader and as an occupational specialist. Ensigns are mentored by more senior officers as well as their (nominally) subordinate chief petty officers as part of their development as Starfleet leaders. As ensigns prove themselves more capable, they are considered for promotion into the lieutenant tier. (TNG: "Datalore").

On some of the larger starship classes, such as the Galaxy-class starships, it is not uncommon for veteran and seasoned enlisted personnel to have ensigns working for them as technicians, thus having the ensign "learning the ropes" of the more technical aspects of starship design, such as transporter components. (TNG: "Clues")

Chief O'Brien's reference in "Clues" to Ensign Locklin working for him as "one of his technicians" seems to contradict everything military edict says about ensigns, who are commissioned officers and would not normally be subordinated to enlisted personnel. There are several explanations for this however, the most logical being that O'Brien had a type of "positional authority", thus making him senior in his duties to junior officers even though he was junior in rank to them. Also, as O'Brien has been shown throughout Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to command officers in his role as Chief of Operations. Perhaps, Starfleet factors in seniority as well as commissioned status in regards to personnel assignments.

Insignia

The 22nd century Starfleet denoted ensigns with a single rank pin. During the 2250s and 2260s, Federation Starfleet uniforms showed no insignia for ensigns. (ENT: "Broken Bow"; TOS: "The Cage", "Court Martial")

By the 2270s, ensigns were granted the former insignia of lieutenant junior grade, the lieutenant jg rank itself having been discontinued. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) By the 2290s, ensigns wore a single pin shaped like a stylized "v" letter. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

The movie-era ensign rank pin was first seen in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It is widely assumed this ensign pin was the insignia used since the 2270s, but since no ensigns had been seen in the "red jacket" uniform until Star Trek VI, this point is unclear. Several non-canon publications, among them Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise, have suggested that during the 2280s ensigns wore a blank shoulder strap on the red jacket uniform without a rank pin.

The late 23rd century pin insignia was used until at least the 2320s. (TNG: "Tapestry") By the end of the 24th century, Starfleet ensigns were once again indicated by one single rank pin. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")

Notable ensigns

All given positions refer to the person's last station as it was when he or she ranked ensign. This may differ from the person's latest assignment.

Starfleet

Starfleet ensigns
This chart shows only general equivalencies based on the ranks used by many governments on Earth, as well as the rest of the galaxy.

Appendices

Background information

Star Trek has often portrayed ensigns as background characters who stand watches at bridge stations, serve as nameless security guards, or who get killed or eaten by the alien creature of the week (see "redshirt"). The characters of Wesley Crusher and Pavel Chekov were the first ensigns to be seriously explored with their duties and responsibilities mainly confined to learning and professional growth as officers. The episode TNG: "Lower Decks" also dealt with ensigns and what their daily duties consisted of.

Starfleet ensigns are rarely seen in command of others, one exception being when Ensign Chekov leads a security detail in TOS: "And the Children Shall Lead" or when Wesley Crusher was assigned to lead a science team in TNG: "Pen Pals". In the real United States Navy, however, ensigns have much more responsibility and typically are in charge of divisions consisting of seven to fifteen sailors. In the case of prior enlisted ensigns, or "mustang ensigns" as they are called, it is not unheard of for an ensign to serve as a department head.

Occasionally, older characters have been seen as ensigns, an example of which is Jana Haines, who appears as an ensign but seems to be in her late 30s or early 40s, as well as ensigns Davies and Alans who hold the rank of ensign while serving as science officers with obvious graduate level education. Several other medical and science ensigns from Star Trek: The Next Generation (and later series) have also appeared whose age and experience indicates that they are obviously not recent Starfleet Academy graduates. This gives rise to the possibility that Starfleet, much like the United States Navy, has commissioning programs for prior enlisted personnel or for civilian doctors and scientists who wish to join Starfleet.

Leonard McCoy (alternate reality), came out of Starfleet Academy as a lieutenant commander. This is also a common practice by the current armed forces, i.e. to give this elevated rank to highly specialized professions (doctors, lawyers, etc.).

After his character's promotion on the show, Gene Roddenberry gave Wil Wheaton the second lieutenant bars he earned in the Army Air Corps (second lieutenant being equivalent to an ensign in the US Navy). Present at the ceremony was General Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who later became Secretary of State. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)

In the background/special features section of the Star Trek: The Next Generation DVD set, actor Wil Wheaton stated that he had received Roddenberry's "gold ensign bars" from World War II; however, since Roddenberry's service was in the Army Air Corps, and not the Navy, Roddenberry's insignia were actually second lieutenant bars.

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