(covers information from several alternate timelines)
Origins and history
A traditional naval rank, lieutenant commander was once used in the old navies of Earth, among them the Royal Navy and the United States Navy. In these organizations, a lieutenant commander was a grade between the lieutenant and commander grades with the rank equivalent to a major in the marine or ground forces.
In the early 2260s, the rank of lieutenant commander was being used by the Starfleet of the United Federation of Planets. The insignia was at first the same as that of lieutenant, but by 2266 had developed into its own design.
23rd and 24th century usage
During the 23rd century, certain lieutenant commanders holding high shipboard positions, such as that of first officer, in a military tradition known as brevetting, were authorized to wear the full braid insignia of a commander while still retaining their rank of lieutenant commander. (TOS: "Court Martial", "The Menagerie, Part I")
In the 24th century Starfleet, lieutenant commander is an active rank with its close equivalents in alien militaries being the Cardassian rank of glinn and the Romulan rank of centurion. It is common in informal circumstances to refer to lieutenant commanders in Starfleet simply as "commander" by both those under their command and their commanding officers. Lieutenant commanders normally serve as senior department heads, executive officers on smaller vessels, and in some cases as starship commanders. Lieutenant commanders Tom Markel, Jadzia Dax, and Piersall all held commanding officer postings. It is worth noting that Jadzia Dax served as the commanding officer of the USS Defiant during the height of the Dominion War because she had acted as Captain Sisko's second in command and was the most qualified to take over for him when he had been reassigned to administrative duties at a starbase. However, her posting was temporary until the Captain returned to command a taskforce during Operation Return. (DS9: "Behind the Lines") Another position that could be held by a lieutenant commander was as an instructor for Starfleet's Advanced Tactical Training. (TNG: "Preemptive Strike")
The rank of lieutenant commander is also known to have existed in parallel universes. In the mirror universe, the Terran Empire Starfleet was using this rank in 2155 (with T'Pol being an example) and the rank was still being used in 2267. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly"; TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")
Regarding the service record of Ensign Ro Laren, as of 2369, Jean-Luc Picard explained that "if she hadn't lost her rank in that incident at Garon IV, she'd be Lieutenant Commander by now." (TNG: "The Next Phase")
Commander William T. Riker read, during the mock sentencing staged for the promotion of Lieutenant Commander Worf, in 2371: "We, the officers and crew of the USS Enterprise, being of sound mind and judgment, hereby make the following charges against Lieutenant Worf. One. That he did knowingly and willfully perform above and beyond the call of duty on countless occasions. Two. Most seriously, that he has earned the admiration and respect of the entire crew." Following the reading of the "charges", Captain Picard granted Worf his new rank, "with all the rights and privileges thereto." (Star Trek Generations)
|Enlisted personnel||Commissioned officers||Generals and flag officers|
|ENS||LT JG||LT||LT CMDR||CMDR||CAPT||FCAPT||CDORE||RADM||VADM||ADM||FADM|
|2nd LT||1st LT||CAPT||MAJ||LT COL||COL||BRIG||MAJ GEN||LT GEN||GEN||MARSHAL|
|Positions:||Boatswain • Chief • Corpsman • Engineer's mate • Specialist • Technician • Yeoman||TAC • SO • 3rd • 2nd • 1st • CO • DD||Portmaster • Chief of Staff • CinC|
|Services:|| Andorian • Bajoran • Cardassian • Ferengi • Jem'Hadar • Klingon • Romulan • SS • United Earth MACO • United Earth/Federation Starfleet • United States • Vulcan|
Mirror universe: Terran Empire Starfleet • Terran Empire MACO
There have been four clear instances in Star Trek where a Lieutenant Commander was verbally addressed as "Lieutenant":
- Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Shelby, who was called a Lieutenant in a briefing by Rear Admiral J.P. Hanson.
- On three occasions, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge was referred to as "Lieutenant":
- In TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint", Commander Riker appeared to address Deanna Troi as "Lieutenant", when she was a Lieutenant Commander.
- While addressed as such in reference, not in person, in 2009's Star Trek, George Kirk wears Lieutenant Commander rank braids, but is referred to by Spock as "Lieutenant George Kirk" during his son's hearing a quarter-century later.
Likewise, Tuvok was also incorrectly identified as Lieutenant after his promotion to Lieutenant Commander during his travels in the Delta Quadrant. Conversely, he was frequently seen wearing Lieutenant Commander's pips during the first season despite holding the rank of Lieutenant at the time; this appears to have been a costume error or possibly a sign that the decision to make him a Lieutenant was made after shooting started.
On a similar note, apparent costuming errors throughout Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country had Valeris wear Lieutenant Commander insignia (as well as mismatched uniform department colors), although the intention was to have her just hold the rank of Lieutenant. Because it was deemed too expensive to go back and reshoot the sequences with Valeris wearing the correct rank and uniform color so it was decided to just let it be. (citation needed • edit)
An issue of Star Trek: The Magazine(citation needed • edit) established that the costuming department on Star Trek: Enterprise had no insignia for lieutenant commander. However, this does not mean the rank did not exist, merely that no on screen character had it and that no episode called for it. The rank was originally considered for use on the show with Malcolm Reed intended to be a lieutenant commander.
In Enterprise Season Four episode "Bound", Commander Tucker refers to his replacement "Kelby" as lieutenant despite him wearing three pips.