Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles.
This month, we’re interviewing the Commanding Officer of the starship USS Arrow, Commander Randal Shayne.
GALVEN: Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?
SHAYNE: Sure thing! My name is Quinn, and I’m a resident of Chicago, Illinois. I joined the group in 2015, and I haven’t looked back since.
When did you become interested in Star Trek and where do you get your inspiration from in terms of books/movies/TV shows?
I was raised with Star Trek- indeed, I couldn’t get away from it. Much of the time, I watched through squinted eyes because the contents of the screen, even with 1960’s special effects, were terrifying to me. But I quickly grew to love it, and as time passed, I began looking toward it as a place of strength and a spiritual aspiration of sorts. To say that Star Trek inspires me doesn’t quite do it justice. That said, I am the product of an insatiable desire for books during my scholarly years as well. They were my escape, and I devoured the exploits of Horatio Hornblower, and whatever Trek crew was contained within the mutilated rags of the secondhand novel I’d been able to scrounge that week, with gusto.
Towards the end of June, you were a part of the ship launch of the USS Arrow. What’s your favorite memory so far?
So much has happened that it is difficult to pick a single instance, but overall, my favorite memory has been the trust that I felt (and continue to feel) in my crew. I’m still finding my way, as we all are, but the fact that I can look to my staff for guidance and support, and my crew for enthusiasm and positivity, is ethereal to me. Pessimism has always been a part of me, for better or for worse, but never before has it been proven so utterly unnecessary. Though trials and hardships have popped up, my comrades have not only done their part to resolve the issue, but they have made the Arrow a place where such issues are worth resolving. We have grown as a part of the fleet, and as a cohesive crew, and I could not be prouder of what has been accomplished thus far by my fellow writers on the Arrow.
What’s been most challenging for you personally as you take command?
The realization that a captain is very much like water; at any point, they must become whatever state of matter is appropriate to the situation. When firm guidance is needed, a captain must be firm and icy. When the crew is excelling without a hint of staff intervention (a situation more common than I could have possibly suspected), the captain must be air; passive and patient. While placed in any other position in the fleet, I was one thing almost all of the time. I knew how to handle that one aspect relatively well. The constant switching and adaptation have proven most trying, but as with everything else, well worth it. There are also the doubts that follow any captain or leader; the fears, the demons, and the weaknesses that conspire to lead a commander astray. I suspect these will be acquaintances for the foreseeable future, but every day, I am offered new motivations and ways to fight them.
And what’s been the most surprising thing so far about taking the leadership role of a vessel?
The lack of training wheels, frankly. My father was a pilot for fun, and though he usually stuck to his Piper Archer, he was once offered the opportunity to fly a combat plane. He described the difference between the crafts; the Piper felt stable and thick, whereas the combat plane felt as though it were positioned upon a single, unstable needlepoint. Each tiny movement of the stick would send the craft swiftly in that direction. For some reason, this first command reminds me of that difference. I have always functioned within the tried and true methods of a ship’s chain of command. Now, though I still remain within it, I find it remarkable how much more subtle my role is, and how wide-reaching the effects of even a minor decision can be.
Lastly, do you have any advice for those who would want to be a Commanding Officer and be given the honour to experience creativity and enthusiasm through their own crew members?
This may sound high and mighty, but my leading piece of advice is this; if you seek a captaincy, do it for the right reasons. It will test you. It will thwart you. It will make you work hard just to keep it. You’ll be acting as the immediate commanding officer of a dozen or so people, each of whom have their own desires and needs that must be respected and catered to. You may find yourself laying awake at night, wondering what you’ve forgotten. You may find yourself in a tight situation, either IC or OOC, where there’s no perfect way out. You may find yourself… in the middle of a catchy “Talking Heads” song. The point is this; command is not something to achieve, but something to experience. It is not simple, nor is it easy, but it is incredibly important and rewarding. It is the embodiment of the idea that leadership is itself a service. Once you carry that ideal in your heart… well, I can’t say that you won’t make mistakes, but chances are good that you’ll make the right ones.
Thanks for your time, Commander Randal Shayne!
You can read more about Commander Randal Shayne on the wiki.