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Charles Whatley

Charles Whatley, a Starfleet flag officer in 2373

A flag officer was both a historic naval and military rank and a more modern Starfleet title. It generally referred to all officers of commodore/rear admiral rank or higher. The term flag officer stemmed from the historical naval practice that when a person of admiral rank was posted to a ship, a flag denoting his rank and presence was flown. In an age of visual signals, the ships under the admiral's command would look to the flagship for orders and instructions. The term traditionally denoted any officer that commanded a squadron of starships, possibly in addition to one under their direct command.

Not all flag officers were required to have commanded a starship in their career, as shown by the case of Commodore Stocker. (TOS: "The Deadly Years")

Starfleet regulations as of the mid-23rd century stated that "when a captain is unfit, physically or mentally, a competency hearing is mandatory," convened by the first officer and headed by a Starfleet flag officer. Additionally, when all senior officers are incapable of commanding a starship, an individual of "flag rank is forced by regulations to assume command." (TOS: "The Deadly Years")

Starfleet General Order 15 stated that "No flag officer shall beam into a hazardous area without armed escort." (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

According to Captain Kathryn Janeway, with regards to the Omega molecule and Omega Directive, "Only starship captains and Federation flag officers have been briefed on the nature of this threat." (VOY: "The Omega Directive")

Flag officer ranks in Starfleet

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