Starship Insignias: One Patch to Rule Them All

We’re all familiar with the Enterprise insignia:

Enterprise Patch

Folks may or may not know that the papers of the late Gene Roddenberry ended up in the Film, Television, and Theater Archival Collections at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  They can be found in the “Gene Roddenberry Star Trek Television Series Collection, 1966-1969.”  These old archival papers are located in 41 boxes and take up about eighteen feet of shelf space.

At any rate, one of the more interesting memos located in the collection (found in Box 36, Folder 1) was a memo from Star Trek series associate producer Robert H. Justman to costume designer William Ware Theiss.  (Gene Roddenberry received a carbon copy of this memo–which is how it came to land in this Roddenberry collection.)

 

TO: Bill Theiss

FROM: Bob Justman

SUBJECT: STARSHIP EMBLEMS

DATE: December 18, 1967

Whilst sitting in Dailies today, it was noticed that a Starship Captain (from another Starship) was wearing an emblem unfamiliar to yours truly. I have checked the occurences out with Mr. Roddenberry, who has reassured me that all Starship personnel wear the Starship emblem that we have established for our Enterprise Crew Members to wear.

Doubtless this situation has arisen due to the fact that a different Starship emblem was used last season on “CHARLIE X”. However, the personnel of that other ship in that show were the equivalent of merchant marine or freighter personnel — and therefore not entitled to bear this proud insignia on their individual and collective breasts.

Please do not do anything to correct this understandable mistake in the present episode. However, should we have Starfleet personnel in any other episodes, please make certain that they were the proper emblem.

Under penalty of death!

Signed this 18th day of December, in the year of our Lord, 1967, by

ROBERT H. JUSTMAN

Chief Inquisitor

 

CC: Gene Roddenberry

John M. Lucas

D.C. Fontana

Gregg Peters

RHJ:sts

P.S. A carven “I’m sorry!” will be sufficient.

R.H.J.

 

(Hat tip to Harvey and Maurice at the TrekBBS for unearthing this.)1

So, while the insignia for the crew of the Antares seen in “Charlie X” (and in “The Trouble With Tribbles”) was meant to be some kind of “merchant marine”-type insignia…

Antares Patch

and while the insignia of Commodore Matt Decker seemed to have slipped by Bob Justman some months earlier (possibly because Decker was known to have been a commodore and not your run-of-the-mill “starship captain, or maybe because Justman simply didn’t  have the responsibility to review the dailies back in the earlier “Produced by Gene L. Coon” days of “The Doomsday Machine”),…

Constellation Patch

producer Bob Justman seems to not have been wild about the insignia worn by Captain Ronald Tracey in “The Omega Glory,” which was filming on December 18, 1967….

Exeter Insignia

Justman’s edict, per Executive Producer Gene Roddenberry: Starfleet crewmembers will henceforth wear the same insignia.  It’s noteworthy that the crew of the Defiant in the third season episode “The Tholian Web,” in the only subsequent time we saw non-Enterprise starship crewmembers, the crew does indeed seem to have the “regular” Starfleet/Enterprise patches–although most of them are actually hidden from view.

So, interestingly, it might not actually have been a “mistake” that non-Enterprise personnel were seen with the Enterprise patch; it may actually be the case that Bill Theiss came up with and implemented the idea of different ship patches as a unilateral decision without producer approval, that was later “corrected” following this “mistake” in “The Omega Glory.”  Seeing that the Enterprise symbol was adopted later in the Star Trek movies, it may be the case that this was the symbol for Starfleet all along, and that the Constellation and Exeter patches were simply “production mistakes.”

Ultimately, knowing definitively how things work in the fictional Star Trek universe is probably unknowable and may be akin to debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin–but it sure is interesting.

As always, questions, comments, feedback, and, of course, “shares,” “likes,” or “+1s” are always appreciated.   So, are you getting any educational or entertainment value from this post?  Send us a couple of bucks!  (See the links below to donate.)

1. Harvey, “Starfleet Command Insignia” [Msg 29], The Trek BBS (forum)
        January 31, 2013 (5:57 p.m.)

 

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About Gregory L. Schnitzer

Gregory L. Schnitzer is Co-Executive Producer on the fan-based Internet series Star Trek Phase II (formerly known as Star Trek New Voyages). Greg is a Registered Nurse and is generally in charge of Emergency Medical Services at the Star Trek Phase II shoots. He also generally serves as the production's Property Master and on-again, off-again Set Decorator. Born and raised in the beautiful but smoggy San Fernando Valley (which he still calls "home"), in real life, Greg is a Registered Nurse and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt, and currently works in the field of Health Information Management at various facilities and in various capacities in the Washington, D.C., greater metropolitan region.