Just What Does It Take To Captain The Starship Enterprise?

The Enterprise has been boldly sailing out into the unknown for almost 50 years now, under the watchful eye of a small group of commanders. But what is it that makes a captain a good fit to take charge of the Federation's favorite vessel?

In response to this post on the ins-and-outs of diplomatic workings, commenter Darth Meow 504 made an argument for why Kirk's qualities as captain may had been underrated:

The primary attribute that made Kirk special as a Captain wasn't charismatic seduction, or bold aggressiveness, or even breaking the rules. It was his ability to think outside the box under pressure, improvisational creative problem solving. That, along with brilliant specialist officers he could delegate to and rely on to inform his decisions, is why his Enterprise survived her tour of duty when no other Constitution class exploration vessel did. Two dozen captains went where no man had gone before, and only one returned. And it sure as hell wasn't because he thought with his phaser or his dick.

Take for example his fight with the Gorn. The Gorn was stronger, tougher, more aggressive, and able to shrug off anything Kirk could do to it. It was too slow to catch him, however, so neither one could easily kill the other by force and skill alone. So how did Kirk win, alone and unarmed against a foe his fists couldn't harm? He improvised. Used his intellect to figure out a way. Using the components scattered around the area of the battle, he found and constructed a crude black powder firearm and shot down his foe. Those components were there to be found, but Kirk is the one who noticed the pattern and realized how it fit together. He won with his mind.

That's the exact kind of thing Kirk did more often than anything else. He examined his situation, identified the problem, and figured out a solution under pressure. That's what made Kirk a great Captain.

Do you have a favorite captain of the Enterprise? Tell us about what qualities made them the right person for the job — and what qualities you want to see in the next one.

Image: XPrize