In Star Trek Beyond, shortly after the Enterprise arrives at the space station Yorktown, Captain Kirk has a conversation with Commodore Paris, in which she informs him that Starfleet has sent her his application for the "Vice Admiral" position at Yorktown.

But as the following graphic shows this would mean a promotion by three ranks.

  enter image description here [Source]

It was said that the Enterprise was 966 days into it's five-year mission at the beginning of the movie, so Kirk has been Captain for about 3 years.

As Vice Admiral he would outrank Commodore Paris, who looked much more experienced (I'm basing this merely on her age, but I think it's fair to assume she has served more years than Kirk).

My Question:

  • What did Kirk do in those 3 years that would merit such a promotion?

1 Answer 1


He lived and the job needs filling.

Between Nero's devastation of Starfleet's armada in Star Trek (2009) and the destruction of one of the founding Federation planets and species, and when Khan turned Starfleet headquarters into a fish in a barrel shooting gallery, and then crashed a ship into San Fransisco Bay in Into Darkness. Along with multiple years of being the flagship ambassador to multiple worlds as seen at the beginning of Beyond, son of the Kelvin's captain, a hero in the UFP, and his own hero status after Nero and Khan.

The ranks of Starfleet is severely understaffed, and Kirk's exceptional service puts him at the top of the list for filling any high ranking seat. Promotion to higher ranks are done by organizational needs and openings, not just merit. If there is no need for an admiral, a captain will be stuck as a captain forever, thats just the nature of service.

Side note, Kirk has been a Captain for about 5 years, from 2258 (the end of the 2009 reboot), not just 3 years. 3 years is his deep space mission to sleep with new life. Beyond takes place in 2263.

Side note 2, Kirk already skipped multiple ranks due to his actions in the first movie, from Cadet to Captain.

  • I forgot that at the end of the 2nd movie there is a "1 year later" time jump, though I'm not sure what Kirk (and the rest of the crew) was doing during that hiatus. - The 2nd movie however also shows that Kirk's heroics don't grant him carte blanche, as he is demoted for not doing a good job as a Captain (even Pike tells him that he is "not ready for the chair"). - Come to think of it, why was the Commodore in charge of promoting someone above her own rank? The whole scene seemed kinda odd.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 18:19
  • @oliver_C in into darkness, kirk gets demoted by a tribunal created by Marcus who's the villain, and before many command officers are murdered by khan, also Marcus' fault. As for the Commodore, she's the highest ranking officer on the Yorktown, and relaying the decisions made by command. I don't see that as odd.
    – cde
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 19:25
  • Kirk violating the Prime Directive and lying about it wasn't made up, and even though Pike wasn't part of that tribunal he agreed that Kirk wasn't fit to be Captain. At the moment I don't see how Kirk's demotion was part of Marcus' evil plan, especially since he reinstated him as Captain after Pike died. - I was under the impression that the Commodore was in charge of deciding who gets that Vice Admiral position. I think she said somehting like "I'll discuss it with the council". If it wasn't up to her, then why would Starfleet Command send her applications to review?
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 22:08
  • @Oliver_C I'm waiting for an english subtitle file to come out. A spanish one I found said Kirk's application was for "this installation", as in the Yorktown? But what I mean is that she doesn't have the final word, but her recommendation would be highly valued by the Star Fleet council. It would work much like how modern day promotions and appointments to flag officers have to go through the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the Senate, and the President. As the flag officer for Yorktown her insight in who would be good for the station or her replacement is important.
    – cde
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 6:57
  • Yes, that explanation makes sense. Strange however that the new boss of Yorktown has to be a "Vice Admiral", two ranks higher than the current Commodore. Maybe Paris is just a temporary replacement for a sudden vacancy (death of the former Vice Admiral?).
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 9:08

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