The ranks and positions of the Planetary Union refer to the divisions of authority and jobs within the Union. They are recognized by all Union-member vessels and planets.
Ranks and positions describe distinct hierarchies. Only commissioned Union officers may hold rank as a title. Rank determines authority without regard to any job or section of study, such as Engineering. A position may hold authority over inferior positions without regard to one's rank.
"I guess it's true what they say: Rank has its privileges." ― Ed Mercer as "Chris" to Captain Haros[source]
Ranks are designated titles within the Union signifying an officer's authority. Each rank comes with its own set of general responsibilities they are expected to adhere to under all costs.
Admirals are the highest position within the Planetary Union. The Captains of Union vessels are bound to respect and obey the desires of their commanding Admirals.
While Admirals are not often found bordering or operating vessels, their experience is rooted in political and bureaucratic knowledge of the Union. As per their rank in the hierarchy, Admirals have the authority to give non-negotiable instructions to any Planetary Union officer, including Captains in regards to how they manage their own ships.
Admirals wear purple uniforms. Unlike most other officers however, their insignia is a circle of golden stars as opposed to the usual silver.
Captains serve as leading crew members of a vessel. Captain ranks below Admirals and above Commanders.
Captain is the highest-ranking stationed position on board a Union vessel, and boasts final command authority of the ship outside of orders from Union command or if deemed mentally or physically unfit. Captains have the power to command any crewmember or civilian aboard the vessel. In the early 25th century, there are roughly 3,000 active-duty Union captains.
A Captain is the final arbiter of justice within the ship, with powers to physically detain persons in the Brig.[n 1] Captains also hold the power to initiate criminal justice proceedings against their own crewmembers through court martialling. A Captain's power is not unlimited as they are subordinate to Union admirals, who oversee multiple vessels, regions, issues, or fleets; and because a captain is responsible for order on their ship, they file regular reports to admiralty. Failure to report or to misreport is a serious offense, and may be punished by a letter of reprimand or stripping outright the rank and title of the Captain.
Commanders serve alongside the Captains of their assigned vessels, often acting as First Officers. Commander ranks below Captain and above Lieutenant Commander.
Commanders are the second highest rank available onboard Planetary Union vessels. They spend their time on the Bridge seated in equal standing to the ship's Captain advising and informing them on the vessel's necessary objectives. For this reason their authority within the ship is held in high regard by all the crew. Commanders assume the powers and authority of Captain in times they are either incapacitated or otherwise missing in action.
Lieutenant Commanders serve in the positions of chiefs of departments or as Second Officer of a vessel. Lieutenant Commander ranks below Commander and above Lieutenant.
Lieutenant Commander may serve in positions such as section chiefs, responsible for the functioning of a department such as Engineering, Security, or Medical. A Lieutenant Commander may also serve as a commander of the bridge in the position of Second Officer to the Captain and First Officer.
Lieutenants serve on space-faring vessels, space stations, or in departments on planets. Lieutenant ranks below Lieutenant Commander and above Ensign.
Lieutenants serve as small-section leaders within departments or even as chiefs of departments, developing their skills for future command. They are responsible for the performance of Ensigns, the junior most officers.
Ensigns form the bulk of most officer personnel on board a space-faring vessel, space station, or office. It ranks directly below Lieutenant.
Ensign is the first rank assigned to new officers upon graduation from Union Point, the cadet academy of the Planetary Union, with the goal of development toward future leadership. They serve under Lieutenants within departments such as Engineering or Sick Bay.
Positions are jobs assigned to officers onboard their designated vessel. Each position entails the involvement or leading of a specific department necessary to keep the ship and its services in check.
Chief Engineer, (or Chief of Engineering), is the senior most position within the Engineering section of the Planetary Union.
The Chief Engineer is the head of all engineering related matters on the Union vessel they are assigned to serve. It is a Lieutenant Commander position above Ensign, and Lieutenant only below the Captains and Admirals. They are frequently stationed within the Engineering section of the ship, but can also perform their duties with the rest of the high ranking officers on the Bridge as well.
Chief of SecurityEdit
The Chief of Security is in charge of the safety for everyone on board their assigned vessel. It is a Lieutenant position below Lieutenant Commander and above Ensign. The Chief of Security, however, has the right to initiate Directive 38 which overrides all other positions on board the Vessel, even the Captain. This is only supposed to be done in situations of dire importance when the superiors are unable to lead, doing so without the necessary prompt can lead to discharge from service.
The Chief of Security is usually seen working on the Bridge along with the Commanders and Captain. However, as revealed in Pria they also have their own office adorned with cameras viewing high traffic spots around the entire ship.
Chief Medical OfficerEdit
The Chief Medical Officer is in charge of overseeing all medical related affairs onboard their assigned vessel. It is a Lieutenant position below Lieutenant Commander and above Ensign. They are personally responsible for overseeing all Nurses and Doctors serving in the ship.
Chief Medical Officer, despite being a Lieutenant position, is exclusively found working within the Sick Bay, helping patients or doing research in their designated office.
Chief Science OfficerEdit
The Chief Science Officer works in stations of the Science department on a Union vessel. Responsibilities include research and analysis of all strange or unexplained phenomena,[n 2] data retrieved from sensor readings,[n 3] and oftentimes assisting away teams. It is a Lieutenant position below Lieutenant Commander and above Ensign. Science Officers often work in conjunction with engineers to research important, unexplained happenings.
Despite having authority over important sections of the ship, the Science Officer can usually be found serving alongside fellow Lieutenants and the Captain onboard the Bridge.
The Navigator is responsible for mapping out the quickest and most efficient route their assigned vessel should take in order to reach the proper destination. They often rely on their ship's Spatial Manifold to help figure it out, but are still trained to use star charts in the event it's out of commission. Navigator is a Lieutenant position below Lieutenant Commander and above Ensigns.
Navigators are part of the ship's engineering department, but due to their pivotal role in space travel are usually found working on the front of the Bridge, eye distance from the Vessel's Captain.
The Helmsman is in charge of operating the helm of their assigned vessel onboard the Bridge. Their main responsibility is leading the ship through Space in the most efficient way possible. Helmsman is a Lieutenant position below Lieutenant Commander and above Ensign.
Helmsman is an position in the Engineering department. However, due to the necessity of them being within close vicinity to the ship's helm are almost always found serving onboard the Bridge.
- It is not know if Directive 38 has any effect on the authority of Admirals, the highest rank one can gain within the Planetary Union hierarchy.
- Is it possible that positions may be held by any person, commissioned officer or civilian, regardless of membership in the Union. As Isaac holds the position of Chief Science Officer despite being an observer on behalf of the Kaylon, not a member of the Planetary Union. [n 4] The official crew manifest in addition lists many individuals holding positions with no visible rank. 
- ↑ In late 2419, Captain Ed Mercer orders Chief of Security Alara Kitan to forcibly detain Pria Lavesque in the Brig after her failed attempt to commandeer the USS Orville. In March, 2420, Mercer interrogates Doctor Claire Finn for the attempted murder of Kitan. He decides to continue to hold Finn in custody on the Brig.
- ↑ In conjunction with John LaMarr, Isaac was in charge of researching the impact of a mysterious spatial anomaly on the Orville. Episode 11: New Dimensions.
- ↑ Examples are ubiquitous. E.g., Isaac retrieves scanning data of a multiphasic planet, Episode 12: Mad Idolatry.
- ↑ Isaac is established to be an observer in Old Wounds