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Memory Alpha
"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."
Enterprise NCC-1701-operations division insignia

Operations insignia from Enterprise

The operations division was the corps of officers and crewmen within Starfleet who specialized primarily in the positions of Security, Engineering, and Ops. (DS9: "The Adversary", "Hippocratic Oath"; TNG: "Lower Decks"; LD: "Envoys", "Trusted Sources") At times, other departments such as communications, helm, and navigation were assigned to the operations division.


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

Operations division personnel also filled administrative posts as yeomen, personnel officers, and portmasters. By the 24th century, this division had its own established role 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.

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The red color had been replaced by the uniforms of the 2250s and early 2260s, as beige (or gold) uniforms and work gear were worn by ops division personnel, except security, who wore blue.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 three divisions had been broken into many separate departments, and the operations division was signified by several colors. Engineering and maintenance staff wore Starfleet badges with red backing, along with red uniform bands and epaulets. Security and services crew wore gray badge backings and bands, and navigators wore yellow.

The uniform scheme was changed again with the 2280s uniforms. The color scheme was streamlined, and all departments within the operations division were assigned the same ochre color. Communications and navigation were transferred to the sciences division. Command-level officers such as department heads had the authority to wear either white slashes on their division color jacket trim, or white undershirts and jacket trim with department color slashes. Montgomery Scott occasionally wore a white undershirt after being promoted to Captain of Engineering, although never with his full uniform jacket.

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 Operations Operations
Late 2360s-Early 2370s 2370s Early 2380s Mid 2380s Late 2390s-Early 2400s
Operations Operations Operations Operations Operations
Late 2800s Late 3180s Early 3190s
Operations Operations Operations

Operations division officers[]


Background information[]

Following the beige uniforms of the two pilots, red was regularly worn by the security, engineering, maintenance, yeomen, communications, and staff officers during Star Trek: The Original Series. Communications Officer Uhura normally wore ops red (she wore command gold in a few early episodes) as did Chief Engineer Scott and Yeoman Rand.

Hikaru Sulu, 2285

Helmsman Hikaru Sulu wearing an operations uniform in a promotional photo for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

For Star Trek: The Motion Picture, costume designer Robert Fletcher dressed all officers in neutral colors, with departments identified by a colored circle set behind the Starfleet logo. Fletcher divided Operations into multiple sections, with some roles such as helm, navigation, and communications marked by the color yellow and engineers and maintenance workers identified by a red circle. For Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan uniforms, Fletcher created a standard red uniform for all officers, with division colors marked in trim on the neck, shoulder, and sleeve. He again shuffled some departments around, moving navigation and communications to the Science department, while engineer Scotty and helmsman Sulu wore the burnt ochre of Operations.

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 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 uniform - Crew 5

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.

In Star Trek Online, the operations division consists of mostly just engineering, as security was moved merged with the command division into the new tactical division in 2409.