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"People don't enter Starfleet to become commanders, or admirals for that matter. It's the captain's chair that everyone has their eye on. That's what I wanted when I joined up, but you don't get to be a Captain wearing a gold uniform."

Operations insignia from Enterprise

The operations division was the corps of officers and crewmen within Starfleet who specialized primarily in Security or Engineering. (DS9: "The Adversary", "Hippocratic Oath")


Members of the operations division may specialize in services and military functions on starbases, aboard starships, and at Starfleet Command as staff officers.

Operations officers included engineers, security and tactical, and some service specializations such as communications. Operations division personnel also filled administrative posts as yeomen, personnel officers, and portmasters. By the 24th century, this division had new postings established on ships, such as operations officers (or chief of operations).


The operations division, command division, and sciences division were usually denoted by Starfleet uniform insignia, most often color-coded.

Officers who belonged to the operations division sometimes wore the division color of another department than that which they specialized in. For example, if an operations officer were to become a department head, he or she might have worn the colors of the command division, or an officer with dual specialties in sciences and operations might have worn the sciences colors.

In the United Earth's Starfleet of the 2140s and 2150s, line officers of ops division wore red division stripes on their uniforms.

The red color had been replaced by the uniforms of the 2250s and early 2260s, as beige (or gold) uniforms and work gear were worn by ops division personnel, except security, who wore blue.

See here, here, and here for more detail.

Red was again the color of the ops division throughout the later 2260s, worn by line officers and flag officers of this division. (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations") During this time, though, some operations officers continued to wear beige (or gold).

See here for more detail.

By the 2270s, new uniforms showed different division colors, the operations division was signified by two differing colors, with red backing the Starfleet badge, and also on uniform bands and epaulets, for engineering and maintenance staff. Security and services crew wore gray badge backings and bands.

The operations division was changed again with the 2280s uniforms, with gray representing both security and services, but also sciences. Engineering and maintenance wore gold colors, which also represent some conn divisions like pilots and navigators. The insignia used gave the officer the option of wearing command division white uniform insignia, with another department color like operations' banded across, or the opposite, with department color insignia with command white banded across.

For the uniforms used from 2350s onward, gold had become the operations division color, and this continued through several Starfleet uniform styles, including the most recent style, and even several styles observed in alternate futures. (DS9: "Paradise", "Trials and Tribble-ations", et al.)


Starfleet uniform operations division colors:
2140s-Early 2160s Mid 2160s 2230s Late 2230s-2250s
Operations Operations Operations Operations Operations
2250s-Early 2270s Mid 2270s Late 2270s-2350s 2350s-2370s
Operations Operations Engineering and Maintenance Engineering Operations
Comms Security
Security and
Federation forces
Late 2360s-Early 2370s 2370s Early 2380s Mid 2380s 2390s
Operations Operations Operations Operations Operations

Operations division officers


Background information

During Star Trek: The Original Series, red (or beige, except security who wore blue, in the pilot episodes) was regularly worn by the security, engineering, maintenance, yeomen, communications, and staff officers. Communications Officer Uhura normally wore ops red (she wore command gold in a few early episodes) as did Chief Engineer Scott and Yeoman Rand. As for the use of the so-called color beige used in the two pilots, it was most likely true gold which simply looked beige or tan under the lights (in some cases even pink) in the same way the command uniforms were actually lime green, but appeared gold. However, the coveralls were most likely actually khaki, tan or beige in keeping with the muted colors used for them within each division. In later episodes they became the standard red of the duty uniforms.

In the movie era, Star Trek: The Motion Picture featured operations crew Uhura and Chekov wearing gray-colored bands, and engineers and maintenance in red bands. By the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan uniforms, Scotty wore gold, but Chekov and Uhura continued to wear gray. The schemes and insignia of the later Star Trek films-era uniforms were designed by Robert Fletcher.

The purpose of the colors was only obvious through inference, but in DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations", red was established in dialogue as the "old" style ops color (and gold as the "new" ops color). The decision to switch the meaning of the colors between the TOS and Star Trek: The Next Generation uniform styles was made in pre-production of TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint".

Most often, in the Federation Starfleet, all captains and admirals wore command division colors; however, there were exceptions which prove that this was not a requirement. In TOS, two commodores, Stone and Stocker, wore red operations division uniforms and Captain Krasnovsky wore sciences division blue. In the movie era, Scotty switched back and forth from command white to engineering gold after receiving his captain's bars. In TNG-era productions, DS9: "The Die is Cast" had an admiral named Toddman wearing operations division gold, despite every other Starfleet captain and admiral ever seen in this era wearing command colors.


Engineering officers in the 2250s

In the comic series Crew, engineering officers are depicted as wearing a red uniform, with a red collar, alongside the beige uniforms as depicted in "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before". In particular, these uniforms are depicted as only being worn in engineering, rather than elsewhere on the USS Enterprise, suggesting that since the engineering section of the Enterprise was never depicted during this era of TOS, such uniforms could have actually existed side-by-side with the beige operations uniforms, thereby continuing the red division color established in Star Trek: Enterprise.