This is a remedial article to dispel the widely-held belief that enlisted men (or "enlisted ranks" or "enlisted uniforms") were present onboard the U.S.S. Enterprise during Captain Kirk's 5-year mission in STAR TREK: The Original Series.
Efforts to catalogue TOS uniforms & insignia frequently suffer from significant inaccuracies: often-times attempting to justify the presence of an "enlisted" category in a consistent way.
Whether this arises from mis-interpretation of dialogue, or assumptions applied retroactively from the inclusion of enlisted members in other Trek, herein we aim to set the record straight where TOS is concerned.
While doing so, great attention will be paid to the usage of naval terms (particularly, ratings) that can be easily mis-construed as an indication that enlisted men are present.
Thus, this article will not only serve as a uniform reference, but a study of how said terminology was actually being applied in 23rd century Starfleet.
Before delving into the on-screen content of the show, we will lay a foundation of information from the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself.
Creator Gene Roddenberry both internally and publicly stated on multiple occasions that all Enterprise personnel were officers.
From "THE STAR TREK GUIDE" for writers and directors (3rd rev., 1967), Page 27:
Is the starship U.S.S. Enterprise a military vessel?
Yes, but only semi-military in practice -- omitting features which are heavily authoritarian. For example, we are not aware of "officers" and "enlisted men" categories. And we avoid saluting and other annoying medieval leftovers. On the other hand, we do keep a flavor of Naval usage and terminology to help encourage believability and identification by the audience. After all, our own Navy today still retains remnants of tradition known to Nelson and Drake.
The earlier "WRITER-DIRECTOR INFORMATION" (revised August 30, 1966) contains the same Q&A, with only minor differences in phrasing.
"THE MAKING OF STAR TREK" (September, 1968), co-authored by Stephen E. Whitfield in consultation with Gene Roddenberry and published during Season 3, sheds further light upon the underlying logic on page 209:
The "enlisted men" category does not exist. Star Trek goes on the assumption that every man and woman aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise is the equivalent of a qualified astronaut, therefore an officer.
Reference is occasionally made to "the crew," in which case it is a generalized statement meant to include everyone aboard the ship. A reference to "senior officers" would refer to a much smaller, specific group of the crew members.
The book continues with a direct quote from Gene (indicated by ALL CAPS), which explains a progressive mindset towards the use of ranks in the future. From this, we can glean a key reason why one ladder of linear progression was more desirable than a "two-class" system:
RANK, WHEN PROPERLY USED, CAN BE A PLEASANT WAY OF ACKNOWLEDGING SENIORITY—OF SHOWING RESPECT TO A MAN, NOT ONLY FOR HIS LENGTH OF TIME IN SERVICE, BUT ALSO THE REPUTATION ACHIEVED IN HIS FIELD OR SPECIAL ABILITY. I THINK MAN WILL ALWAYS WANT THIS TYPE OF THING. IN OUR OPTIMISTIC ERA, ON OUR STARSHIPS, WE ENJOY THE USE OF THESE COURTESIES. IF THE CREWMEN STAND WHEN OUR CAPTAIN ENTERS A ROOM, IT IS NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE BEING SUBSERVIENT. THEY ARE, IN EFFECT, SAYING, “HERE IS A MAN WHO HAS ACHIEVED GREAT THINGS, HAS BEEN AWARDED HIGH HONORS, AND HAS EARNED HIGH ACCLAIM.” WHAT A PLEASANT WAY TO SAY, WHEN HE COMES IN, “CONGRATULATIONS.” AND THIS IS, IN ESSENCE, WHAT IT AMOUNTS TO. AND YOU NEED NOT BE MILITARY TO DO IT. YOU AND I DO THIS WHEN OUR FATHERS ENTER THE ROOM, OR WHEN WE APPLAUD THE APPEARANCE OF AN ADMIRED STATESMAN.
Gene would internally re-emphasise the point as needed, such as in a memorandum in the Roddenberry Vault addressed to Gene Coon (cc: R. Justman) on August 15, 1966 regarding the first draft of “Court Martial” [1x14]:
ENLISTED MEN. There is a feeling of an officer-enlisted man arrangement in this script. Actually, we've avoided terminology or playing of "enlisted men" aboard our vessel. Every man aboard is a trained astronaut, even the cooks.
Mr Roddenberry's steadfastness on the topic was reiterated in discussing Captain Kirk on Page 3:
The script is also our first opportunity to see him off his vessel and yet in contact with his peers. At present, he wanders around like everyone else, very little feeling of his special status, the pomp and ceremony and color of his position. This is not to say we want to go back into the officer-enlisted man thing, but on the other hand the more we understand that a starship captain's position is rare and considerable, the more we understand the threat to Kirk's career and sympathize with our Captain.
N.B.- As we read here, the show was not only avoiding the playing of enlisted men aboard the vessel — but the terminology as well. This should be kept in mind throughout, as it indicates that nothing within the scripts was meant imply the existence of enlisted men in the first place.
Visual Identification (or Lack Thereof)
In addition to Gene's incontrovertible statements, no coherent case for the presence of enlisted men can be made from the visual content of TOS.
While Navy enlisted sailors (other than Chief Petty Officers) wear quite different uniforms from the officers, there is no analogous TOS design that can be identified as an "enlisted uniform".
The coveralls have sometimes been carelessly classified as such, but these are in fact generic Working Uniforms – devoid of any rank insignia – that various officers (including members of the main cast) change into and out of as needed: dating all the way back to Dr Boyce in “The Cage” [0x01].
Furthermore, there is no insignia worn by any Enterprise crew member that conveys itself as being an enlisted badge — an absence juxtaposed against every single shipboard Officer Rank Insignia being distinctly defined.
Prior to the idea of an enlisted category being thrust into consciousness by later Star Trek productions, popular non-canon publications such as the "STAR FLEET TECHNICAL MANUAL" (1975) gave that 387 of 430 (90%) of the Enterprise crew were Ensign-grade.
Although this may be an over-estimate (given how frequently Lieutenant's stripes appear), the overall idea is in alignment with the uniforms that are seen on-screen.
The entire remaining case for an enlisted category must therefore be rooted in terminology and dialogue, which the next several sections will examine in-depth.
Ranks, Rates, and Ratings
Although absent in both concept and visual evidence, various lines of TOS dialogue may still give the contradictory impression of enlisted men being addressed.
For clarity, it is necessary to understand the differences between ranks, rates, and ratings, in 20th century Navy terms.
Technically, only officers have ranks (a commission from the head of state). Commissions certainly exist in Starfleet: Commander Spock refers to his own in both “Amok Time” [2x05] and “Journey to Babel” [2x15].
In contrast, the insignia badges worn by Navy enlisted members are a combination of a rate and a rating, as explained on Navy.mil ("The Official Website of the United States Navy"):
The use of the word "rank" for Navy enlisted personnel is incorrect. The term is "rate." The rating badge is a combination of rate (pay grade, as indicated by the chevrons) and rating (occupational specialty, as indicated by the symbol just above the chevrons).
Rates (a.k.a. "enlisted ranks") are not present within the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Indeed, not one is actually mentioned in that context at any point in the series.
On the other hand, a rating is an occupation (such as Yeoman). These are certainly in use, as a broad range of skills and specialities would be present onboard a Starship. Unlike traditional navies, ratings are held by officers.
- Starfleet officer ranks determine relative seniority between Enterprise crew members; however
- Officers may also be rated, which means (just as it does for Navy enlisted men) that they possess a certain occupational speciality.
It makes sense that these specialities are most often used as titles for junior crew members, since senior officers would typically have broader supervisory responsibilities.
Also, it is common for Navy enlisted sailors to be referred to by their rating rather than their rate (emphasising occupation over rank). Doing the same with various junior officers on STAR TREK helped maintain the desired
flavor of Naval usage — not to mention that in a large crew, mentioning "Yeoman Smith" may be more immediately informative than "Ensign Jones" or "Ensign Brown".
The next section shall corroborate this with numerous examples.
Key terms spoken on TOS that frequently imply the existence of enlisted men (at least according to their present-day naval usage) include crew, crewman, Chief, Technician, Specialist, and Yeoman.
Each will be examined in detail – along with who it was applied to, what ranks they held, and/or what uniforms they wore – and shown to have an evolved Starfleet usage appropriate to the Enterprise crew being composed entirely of officers.
Crew can refer to enlisted men when used in the naval phrase "officers and crew", which is never spoken in TOS. On its own it is a general term that can refer to the whole company belonging to a ship.
The latter is its clear meaning across repeated uses, including multiple statements mentioning a Starship's full complement of 430 men and women (which is sometimes ball-parked to 400, and once given as a strangely specific 428 in “Charlie X” [1x07]).
The numerous on-screen references draw from the writer/director guides, which give that the vessel has a crew of
Crewman / Crewmen
The Navy regards the word crewman (pl. crewmen) as being particularly for one who is not an officer — but that is not necessarily the case, and once again not the case at all on TOS.
In Starfleet, it is used in two manners that will be examined individually:
- As a description, with a lowercase "c" (e.g.-
three crewmen"); and
- as a title, with an uppercase "C" (e.g.-
Crewman, stand asideor
Crewman Jackson is dead).
1. Crewman as a Description
As a general description, crewman or crewmen (lowercase "c") may reference any member or group of members of a Starship's crew, regardless of rank or gender.
A partial list of examples spoken by Captain Kirk includes:
- “Tomorrow is Yesterday” [1x21]*
Crewman, describing a female Ensign in a Command Division uniform to USAF Captain Christopher.
- “Catspaw” [2x01]
Two missing crewmen, in reference to Lt Commander Scott and Lieutenant Sulu.
- “Obsession” [2x18]
Two hundred crewmen, killed onboard the Farragut.
- “The Ultimate Computer” [2x24]
Over one thousand of our fellow Starship crewmen, in reference to the sum totals aboard the Lexington, Hood, and Potemkin — as well as
murdered one of my crewmen, indicating an officer later stated to be an Ensign.
- “Day of the Dove” [3x11]
Trapped crewmen, subsequent to Lieutenant Uhura's report that
almost four hundred crewmen are trappedin the lower decks.
- “The Lights of Zetar” [3x18]*
Ship's investigative procedures are sometimes confusing to a new crewman. Don't let us upset you., to Lieutenant Mira Romaine.
* While plural references to "crewmen" obviously include women serving aboard, the two highlighted examples of solo female officers being called "crewman" are of great interest on the subject of terminology.
For completeness, it should be mentioned that actress Sherri Townsend, who played the aforementioned Ensign in “Tomorrow is Yesterday” [1x21], appeared on the end credits as
That term was only spoken once in dialogue, in “The Squire of Gothos” [1x18]:
KIRK: Yes. I want you to leave my crewmen alone. I want you to leave my crew women alone too.
However, its context in that situation was Captain Kirk pointedly challenging Squire Trelane on his behaviour towards Ensign Teresa Ross and Lieutenant Uhura.
Thus, while "crew woman" is a valid descriptor in casual English speech today (and logically remains so in the future), we learn that crewman is the standard non-gender-specific Starfleet term applied individually to both men and women serving aboard a 23rd century Starship.
This is further cemented by "THE STAR TREK GUIDE" for writers and directors (3rd rev., 1967), which twice describes the Captain's Yeoman as a
2. Crewman as a Title
In totality, seven characters in four episodes are addressed or titled as Crewman (uppercase "C").
Those are perhaps the most likely to be misconstrued as enlisted men, especially given its passing similarity to Seaman (a Navy junior enlisted rate).
Two of the seven wear blue Working Uniform coveralls: generic "stock" costumes that never have insignia, and are thus rank-indeterminate. The first is addressed by Spock (
Crewman, report to the lab!) in “The Man Trap” [1x05], and the second by Uhura (
Crewman, do I know you?) in “The Naked Time” [1x06].
The remaining five are officers in standard Service Uniforms, as follows:
- Crewman Darnell
An Ensign wearing a blue Sciences shirt in “The Man Trap” [1x05].
- Crewman Green
An Ensign wearing a gold Command shirt in “The Man Trap” [1x05].
- Crewman Moody
An Ensign wearing a gold Command shirt in “The Naked Time” [1x06].
- Crewman Jackson
A Lieutenant wearing a gold Command shirt in “Catspaw” [2x01].
- Crewman Compton
An Ensign wearing a red Services shirt in “Wink of an Eye” [3x13].
It is therefore conclusive that Crewman is not an enlisted rate!
Rather, it is a title that may be used in place of rank to formally address a shipboard subordinate or peer.
Further, Crewman may be used with or without a surname, akin to "Mister/Miss" (and is comparatively more generic, being applicable to both genders).
We can also conjecture that it might only be considered appropriate towards junior officers: Crewman Jackson (a Lieutenant) holds the highest rank we hear titled as such, and it would sound odd indeed if Captain Kirk were to address Spock, McCoy, or Scotty in the same manner.
However – from a behind-the-scenes perspective – some of this delineation arises naturally from the fact that Crewman was a generic "catch-all" title for adding additional junior officer characters to a script.
Usage of Chief demands careful examination, as some claim that it refers to Chief Petty Officer (a Navy senior enlisted rate).
However, its application onboard the Enterprise was only in the context of positions held by officers:
- Chief Medical Officer (or Chief Surgeon)
- Stated frequently as the position held by Doctor McCoy (Lt Commander).
- Chief Engineer
- Stated frequently as the position held by Montgomery Scott (Lt Commander).
- Transporter Chief
The first two identified in “Tomorrow is Yesterday” [1x21] and “The City on the Edge of Forever” [1x28] belonged to the Services Division and wore generic red Working Uniform coveralls.
However, in “That Which Survives” [3x14] the Transporter Chief was wearing an Ensign's red Services shirt, and we learn that the title is interchangeable with Transporter Officer (as used in the writer/director guides):
UHURA: One casualty, Mister Spock. The transporter officer, he's dead.
SPOCK: Was the cause of his death the same as that which killed the transporter officer?
KIRK: That's a good question. She touched the transporter chief. He collapsed immediately.
- Chief Geologist
- Mentioned in dialogue in “The Ultimate Computer” [2x24].
- Security Chief
- Self-identified on the intercom in “Tomorrow is Yesterday” [1x21].
Presumably there are more "chiefs", as Kirk broadly ordered
Section chiefs, assign personnel to the search over the intercom in “The Enemy Within” [1x04].
Eliminating the above examples – in which the word "chief" is part of a title that designates an officer supervising an area, regardless of his rank – only two occasions remain on which a crew member was addressed simply as
Chief: both in “Charlie X” [1x07].
The first was the officer who received the order
all right, Chief, begin materialisation from Kirk; he was clearly manning the position of Transporter Chief, and furthermore wearing an Ensign's red Services shirt.
The second was the chef in the ship's galley, to whom Kirk began to reply on the intercom
Chief, have you been—.
If we presume this was the same man who was earlier told in the corridor
On Earth today, it's Thanksgiving. If the crew has to eat synthetic meat loaf, I want it to look like turkey., then he was also wearing an officer's standard Services Division uniform (rank unseen), with some futuristic "chef's jacket" type garment overtop.
Humorously, this final example is a direct reflection of Gene's statement that
every man aboard is a trained astronaut, even the cooks!
Technician is a term that readily indicates a rating of some sort — but as already mentioned, ratings are occupational specialities held by officers onboard the Enterprise.
Similar to "Crewman", this title was a generic (albeit slightly-more specialised) way of adding a junior officer to a script: focusing more on the purpose the character was to serve than the specifics of his or her rank.
In fact, "THE STAR TREK GUIDE" for writers and directors (3rd rev., 1967) lumps together
various Technician Crewmen and other ship's officers in describing the bridge on Page 15!
Only five officers in three episodes are specifically referred to as technicians:
- “The Enemy Within” [1x04]
Geological Technician Fisher (Sciences Division) and Transporter Technician Wilson (Services Division) wear generic Working Uniform coveralls.
However, footage from “The Cage” [0x01] (as shown) reveals that Fisher was already a commissioned officer under Captain Pike!
- “Space Seed” [1x24]
Prior to losing consciousness, Captain Kirk records
Commendations recommended for Lieutenant Uhura, Technicians First Class Thule and Harrison, Lieutenant Spinelli and, of course, Mister Spock.
Harrison (a recurring character) is the Ensign at Environmental. While there is some debate about the identity of Thule, knowing that Lt Spinelli is at the Helm and Mr Leslie is at Engineering means that he must be either the Lieutenant (Command Division) at Navigation, or the Lieutenant (Sciences Division) near the turbo-elevator.
- “Wolf in the Fold” [2x07]
Karen Tracy – a Lieutenant – is twice referred to by Captain Kirk as
a technician with a psycho-tricorder.
This outright eliminates any argument that "technician" is an indicator of enlisted status!
Specialist is another term that indicates a rating; it is somewhat rarer than Technician.
Mr Spock uses it as a self-descriptor (perhaps in the general sense) in “The Immunity Syndrome” [2x19]:
SPOCK: Which makes you indispensable, Captain. Further, you are not a science specialist.
Beyond this, it is applied specifically to only two officers in as many episodes:
- Robert Tomlinson, “Balance of Terror” [1x08]
SCOTT [OC]: Yes, sir. But Specialist Tomlinson is manning it alone. No standby crew available.
- Mira Romaine, “The Lights of Zetar” [3x18]
KIRK: With us is specialist Lieutenant Mira Romaine.
Being Lieutenants, both provide potent examples of officers holding ratings in TOS — perhaps Miss Romaine even more-so, being specifically introduced as a rated Lieutenant!
Yeoman is a Navy rating that continued onwards into 23rd century Starfleet.
Wikipedia's List of United States Navy ratings states that
Yeomen perform administrative and clerical work, while STAR TREK writer/director guides describe the Captain's Yeoman serving
as his combination Executive Secretary-Valet-Military Aide.
This term applies to officers of both sexes: although starting in the 2250s and continuing throughout the 2260s, the job became so dominated by women that all Yeomen appearing on TOS happened to be female! (In reality, after the departure of Grace Lee Whitney from the regular cast, this was no doubt to continue balancing out a crew that the writer's guide intended to be approximately one-third female.)
In total, of the 14 women that can be confirmed as Yeomen via dialogue or credits, all wore officer's uniforms.
Excluding the 2 pilot episodes and their unique uniform design, 11 of the remaining 12 wore an Ensign's red Services tunic (we will forego displaying a complete gallery, for brevity).
The final example is Tina Lawton, who wore an Ensign's blue Sciences tunic, shown here with Yeoman Janice Rand and Charles Evans in “Charlie X” [1x07].
Although the overwhelming majority of Yeomen seen on-screen were serving as the captain's, Rand introduces Lawton to Charlie as someone who is younger than herself, and a
Yeoman Third Class.
Miss Lawton confirms the reasonable assumption that other shipboard department heads would have had a Yeoman as well — and more importantly for this article, that the rating is separate from the rank. Rand is clearly senior in job experience (and would presumably be a Yeoman First Class in order to be serving the captain), but both women wear an Ensign's uniform.
It is extremely telling that only one episode in the entirety of TOS makes a point of distinguishing between officers and enlisted men, and it occurs onboard the I.S.S. Enterprise in “Mirror, Mirror” [2x10]:
MAN: Mister Chekov was going to make me a chief. You could make me an officer.
KIRK: All right. You're working for me.
MAN: A commission?
KIRK: You're in line. You might even make captain.
MAN: Yes, sir.
(Kirk punches him.)
KIRK: Not on my ship.
Notably, the Terran Empire's Starfleet seems to relegate coverall uniforms to the enlisted ranks, who were regularly employed as bodyguards for officers: a budget-conscious way of using existing costume stock to further exhibit the sort of "two-class system" that Gene did away with on our own Enterprise.
Perhaps this contributed to Working Uniform coveralls often being mistakenly labelled as "enlisted uniforms", which (as previously explained) is not true in the Prime Universe.
The pilot episodes typically receive separate analysis, especially since the un-aired 1st pilot (as re-cut into “The Menagerie, Part I” [1x15] & “The Menagerie, Part II” [1x16]) was shot a year and a half prior to starting filming Season 1. It featured a different Enterprise crew in an earlier decade, and the uniforms were completely re-designed for TOS-proper.
However, for those who insist upon fully incorporating “The Cage” [0x01] into the present discussion (or argument), it may provide fuel by expanding upon the definition of what a Starfleet "officer" can be.
We are of course referring to the presence of CPO Garison (the
Bridge Chief Petty Officer): a non-commissioned officer (NCO) who wore a distinctive stripe of "ladder braid" on his Services shirt.
This is often put forward as "the elephant in the room" where an enlisted category is concerned, but does not actually provide a basis for any such argument.
In the quotes already given, Gene Roddenberry's main point was to emphasise that there is no separate category of "enlisted men" aboard; he never got so technical as to say that every crew member was commissioned (although that does appear to be the case under Captain Kirk).
What we have under Captain Pike is a minimalist system of rank insignia where NCOs wear ladder braid, junior commissioned officers have no braid, and senior commissioned officers wear a stripe of gold braid (increased to 2 stripes for Captain Kirk in the 2nd pilot), explored in greater detail in Pilot Uniforms - Insignia.
This aligns with U.S. Navy design of the mid-20th century (with which Gene Roddenberry and costume designer William Ware Theiss, as veterans themselves, would have been familiar). From a uniform standpoint,
Chief Petty Officer was categorised separately from
Enlisted Man below CPO: he was afforded essentially the same design as commissioned officers, with more ornate sleeve insignia than the junior officer ranks (who were technically superiors).
The presence of a Chief Petty Officer explored the idea of placing a non-commissioned rank into the unified ladder of "officers". Gene Roddenberry and Bill Theiss would later revisit the same idea for TNG in 1987, defining a single black pip ("half-pip") as Chief Warrant Officer, beneath Ensign.
For TOS, the idea seems to have been shelved: there is no evidence of any NCOs serving under Captain Kirk. This is easily accepted, as we know Captain Pike's crew was structured rather differently in the 2250s, being a complement of only 203 rather than 430. (Captain Pike also had Midshipmen on his bridge, for example, while there is no indication that any cadets served in Captain Kirk's crew, either.)
A final word here about continuity, as bona fide enlisted men were written into multiple Star Trek productions set before and after TOS, and this may pose some questions for those attempting to reconcile the overall chronology.
Although this website concerns itself only with what was true at the time that The Original Series was being made – and not what subsequently "became true" in later Trek – one might still question how an organisation the size of Starfleet, even in the time of Captain Kirk, could have feasibly operated with a membership that limited itself to officer ranks.
The question is irrelevant, because that is not the claim being made. Everything put forward here is specifically in relation to the U.S.S. Enterprise, as a unit, during the latter half of the 2260s.
From a writer's perspective, the Enterprise is the setting of TOS: intended to be a metaphor for a future Earth, with everyone working together in mutual cooperation. That speaks further to why Gene did not wish to have a "two-class system" onboard.
Outside our vessel, we find a great deal of room for speculation on the organisation of the Federation. Here the series ultimately leaves more to the imagination than it answers, and this article makes no overreaching claims about where or how an enlisted category factors into the larger picture.
In-universe, 430 Starship crew members may initially seem like a lot — but consider that man had proliferated well beyond the Earth, and only 12 vessels like the Enterprise were in service. These heralded a new era for Starfleet, and not all of them were offered to human crews (for example, the Intrepid, lost in “The Immunity Syndrome” [2x19], was
manned by Vulcans).
Assignment as a Starship crew member would be an honour reserved for the "best of the best", and it was entirely reasonable at this juncture for Command to insist upon every one of them being a fully trained & qualified officer.
Those who adhere to the "enlisted men" narrative still often attack this explanation with somewhat-humorous implausibility arguments (e.g.- "oh sure, so you're going to have commissioned officers cleaning the toilets"), but these are based upon 20th-century expectations of necessary labour versus available technology.
Additional quotes from Gene Roddenberry in "THE MAKING OF STAR TREK" (September, 1968) indicate that a much higher level of automation was being conceived of, such as the following on page 188:
AN AUTOMATED STARSHIP LIKE OURS COULD PROBABLY BE OPERATED BY TEN PEOPLE IF NECESSARY, BUT IT WOULD BE A TERRIBLY LIMITED, UNHEALTHY, MISERABLE LIFE.
And another, from page 206:
ONE OF THE REASONS FOR HAVING THIS MANY CREWMEN ON BOARD WAS TO KEEP MAN ESSENTIALLY THE SAME AS HE IS NOW. I BELIEVE THAT MAN IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE A "SOCIAL ANIMAL." ... IT IS GOOD TO HAVE PEOPLE ABOARD AND AVAILABLE TO LEND THEIR CREATIVE TOUCH WHEN AUTOMATED MACHINERY GOES WRONG. BUT THIS WASN'T THE PRIMARY REASON, SINCE WE MIGHT EASILY HYPOTHESIZE THAT BY THIS FUTURE CENTURY EQUIPMENT WOULD HAVE THE ABILITY TO REPAIR ITS OWN DAMAGE, OR BYPASS DAMAGED PARTS AND LET AUXILIARY PARTS TAKE OVER THE JOB.
Perhaps in some respects, this was a level of sophistication that special effects of the 1960s couldn't always fully convey — but the idea was clearly that skilled technicians could perform high-level repairs on numerous automated systems, which would in turn handle lower-level maintenance tasks. (An idealised, futuristic version of the concept that you never need to vacuum if you know how to fix your Roomba!)
In conclusion, the absence of enlisted men from the Enterprise during Captain Kirk's 5-year mission is not only demonstrable and entirely plausible, but does not require any sort of profound reconciliation of continuity with other Trek.
As such, the author would be more than pleased if this article simply served as encouragement for other publications – especially those that claim to be based exclusively upon canon – to cease categorising TOS crewmen, or their uniforms, as "enlisted"!
- Dialogue quotations from Chrissie's Transcripts Site.
- Star Trek: TOS screencaps from TrekCore.
- Documents from the Roddenberry Vault.