Thank you for that lovely introduction, Councilwoman Shull.
Good morning, assembled officers, crew, family and friends, honored platform guests, and distinguished visitors. When I realized the Enterprise would be in port this week, I was honored to accept the Councilwoman’s invitation to speak at today’s ceremony. Some of you may know that I’m a student of naval history, as far back as the iron-bowed icebreakers of Andor. I can tell you how special it is to be present when a new ship comes to life. Today, it’s my honor to celebrate the occasion of the U.S.S. Somerville’s commissioning with all of you.
It’s rare that I get a chance to participate in a ceremony like this, but I relish the opportunity when it arises. These ceremonies and speeches may seem frivolous to some, but for me, it is a time of much-needed reflection. We reflect on those that came before us. We reflect on those we serve with now. And we reflect on the generations that will go out into the Final Frontier after us, using our own example as their guiding star. Past, present and future, we reflect on what it means to be in Starfleet, and what Starfleet means to us.
For me, Starfleet has always had two faces: the determined protector and the eager explorer. On one hand, we are stalwart defenders of the United Federation of Planets against any who would wish its citizens harm. And on the other hand, we are the bright-eyed wanderers who willfully adopt a naive reverie about the unknown wonders of the universe. Over the course of its history, Starfleet has been pushed and pulled to either of these extremes as a consequence of each new reality it encounters.
Many of the best officers to wear the uniform have found a balance between the role of the protector and the role of the explorer. Many of them have had to lean into one role or the other as the circumstances demanded. And many of them found that in order to protect those in their charge - their crew, their ship, their home - they could not rely on martial vigilance and tactical acumen. Throughout the centuries, our revered heroes have found that the most powerful way to protect those they served was not merely bitter resolve or cunning tactics, but by something unexpected: applied curiosity.
By approaching the universe with an open mind, by looking past the blatant threat and seeing an opportunity to bring the common mysteries of the universe into a sharper focus, Starfleet officers have faced down impossible odds. They’ve crossed galaxies, pacified even the most determined enemies and changed the course of history. Not through the power output of the phaser or the application of a genius strategy, but through the will to learn. The will to adapt. The desire to explore and understand and commune with the unknown… even when it is poised to kill you.
My understanding is that the Somerville is a fine ship with a proud history: first of her class, fourth to bear the name. She was built with the most advanced scientific instrumentation and newly declassified Mycelial technology. She’s kitted out with dozens of sensors, particle projectors and electronic countermeasures… able to reconnoiter from afar to understand the nature of any new phenomena she might encounter before it might detect her.
To her new commanding officer, Captain Esser, I offer this exhortation: use all of these tools to your advantage, as any captain would, but look past the sensor data and the intelligence analyses and the contingency plans. Look past the numbers and statistics and probable outcomes. Look for the heart of the matter, the “why” beyond the “what,” and there you will find your greatest tactical asset: the truth.
It is a sacred tenant of Starfleet that an officer’s first duty is to the truth. Such a duty to the personal, moral and scientific truth of a deep-space assignment necessitates a keen understanding of both the sublime and the dangerous. But, as the saying goes, understanding is a three-edged sword.
Captain, it is your duty to those gathered here and the crew standing ready on the Somerville to seek out all three edges of that understanding. To think in more complex terms than “friend” and “enemy” and navigate the path to a truth where your ship and your crew can be the best version of what Starfleet is: not simply protectors, not simply explorers, but philosophers who can aid us in a more fundamental understanding of the universe.
To the crew of the Somerville I wish fair winds, clear skies, and a chance to show the rest of us the best version of ourselves.
Lead Ship & UI Artist
Star Trek Online