Commanding Officer

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A commanding officer (or CO) is a term used to describe one's rank in relation to others within the same environment. On Federation starships, the CO usually has the rank of captain, though sometimes a Commodore or Fleet Captain may also hold this position.

In military terminology, a Commanding Officer is the highest-ranking officer and commander of a unit. On Federation starships, it is sometimes practiced to address the commanding officer as "Captain," regardless of their actual rank or position. The term "commanding officer" can also be used to refer to the officer whom one directly reports to in the Chain of Command or in a department. Occasionally, it simply identifies an officer of higher rank in comparison to another, or the officer with the most experience if more than one officer holds the highest rank at the time, although this is usually referred to as a "ranking officer."

Other Governments

On vessels of the Romulan Star Empire, commanding officers typically have the rank of erei'Riov or Riov, though it is not unusual for an Enriov to command their own ship. The commanding officer is addressed by their actual rank, though the word "leih" is the general term for the position. Romulans commanding officers wear the same uniform as their crew, with only their rank pips and division symbol to identify them. Dukat once claimed it was Cardassian tradition for the commanding officer to entertain his guests.


In general, Federation commanding officers are dressed in the colors of the command division, but there are some exceptions in Star Fleet uniform usage.

List of Federation Space Commanding Officers


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Last updated 1 July, 2021

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