The Greatest Star Trek Captain – Late Starfleet Era

In the last blog we looked at the early Starfleet Captains so in this one we’re going to look at Star Trek: The Next Generation era Starfleet captains to round off our look at who is the greatest Captain.

Jean-Luc Picard

The thoughtful Frenchman was the best of 24th Century humanity, a studious, well mannered, thoughtful captain, he avoided conflict at all costs, believed in diplomacy and was a stickler for regulations and the ideals of the Federation. He made 27 first contacts including the Ferengi, the Q continuum and the Borg (more on them later).

He initially failed the entrance exam to Starfleet Academy and was only accepted at his second attempt and during his time at the academy excelled in both wrestling and running. As a young man, he was reckless and nearly died when stabbed through the heart by a Nausican. He served on the USS Stargazer as a lieutenant and was eventually promoted to captain. He invented a tactical manoeuvre called the Picard Manoeuvre that destroyed an enemy ship using nothing but a warp field.

He took command of the USS Enterprise-D in 2364, the most prestigious command in all of Starfleet. He was offered the job of commandant of Starfleet Academy but turned it down.

Perhaps the most important event that happened to Picard was that he was assimilated by the Borg in 2366. This profoundly affected Picard and haunted his dreams. He was officially pronounced dead after his assimilation but was officially brought back to life after he was rescued. His assimilation changed the Federation’s outlook and they became more militarised to deal with new potential threats this included the development of the Defiant class of Starship.

Benjamin Sisko

Benjamin Sisko was a leading figure in galactic history following his discovery of the Bajoran Wormhole near Deep Space 9. The wormhole was a one of a kind stable wormhole that allowed safe passage from the Alpha Quadrant to the Gamma Quadrant. The significance of this was not clear on its discovery, as it created the conditions for the Dominion War, an event that was an existential threat to the very existence of the United Federation of Planets.

As commanding officer of Deep Space 9 he was initially a commander but given its strategic importance he was promoted to captain and took command of a battleship, the USS Defiant. During his time as commander at the station he would be proclaimed emissary of Bajor and as it turns out, he was a wormhole alien himself or a prophet from a Bajoran point of view.

A single parent, he was the only Starfleet captain we saw who raised a child. His wife was killed by the Borg cube at Wolf 359.

His legacy was a successful end to the Dominion War when the Treaty of Bajor was signed in 2375

Kathryn Janeway

Kathryn Janeway was a hugely famous Starfleet captain who made a record-breaking number of first contacts and was famous for successfully navigating back to Earth after being displaced to the Delta Quadrant 70000 light years away after an incident in the Badlands hunting for the Maquis.

This led to an arrangement where her crew would join with the Maquis in a shared power-structure to try to facilitate their way home. This would cause some tension as there was a large level of distrust between the two parties. This would fade with time as trust grew.

Though 70000 light years from home she was committed to Federation principles and would always stick to them despite Starfleet’s chances of finding out she broke the rules being minimal.

In her time in the Delta quadrant she became a Borg expert, even allowing a Borg – Seven of Nine join her crew. She later went on to become Starfleet Command’s resident Borg expert.

Though it was amazing that she managed to survive so far from home with no support, her journey was helped by a transwarp communication device designed by Lt. Commander Reginald Barclay of Starfleet headquarters and the ingenuity of her doctor.

How she actually got Voyager home is, at least for me, an area of controversy. In an outrageous abuse of Starfleet temporal regulations, future Janeway – holding the rank of Admiral breaks the temporal prime directive to allow Voyager to allow home 15 years earlier than they had in the normal timeline. This is seemingly stupidly out of character for a captain who stuck to the rules for 22 years as she found Voyager’s way home.

The conclusion:

In Star Trek canon, no one can compare to the legacy of Jonathan Archer, he is legendary and is the greatest man in Federation history. As a Starfleet Captain, however, James Kirk has to be the most legendary of them all. Picard gushed like a fanboy when he met him on Viridian, Janeway wished she could have served in Kirk’s era and Sisko couldn’t resist meeting the legendary captain when a temporal anomaly put him in Kirk’s time.

Picard saved Earth from the Borg, Sisko saved Earth from the Dominion, but Kirk saved Earth from VGer, the bizarre cigar ship that talked humpback whale and countless other times. When Kirk was put in a similar situation to Janeway in the episode By Any Other name he was home by the end of the episode. Given he was the first Starfleet Captain to return form his five-year mission we have to come to the conclusion that James T. Kirk is the greatest Starfleet captain.