Who are we?

The USS MERLIN serves as part of the 20th fleet and is nominally based in London, but it draws its membership from across the UK. It is delighted to have a particular affinity with the USS Alba who were our support ship when we launched within STARFLEET International (SFI).

We run primarily as a correspondence chapter, with most of our interactions taking place on social media, but we also actively support face-to-face meetings where possible. All members are invited to interact as much or as little as they want to.

We are one of several ships (chapters) within Region 20, which covers Ireland and the United Kingdom. We also have the distinct honour of being the Region 20 Flagship, as the Regional Coordinator (Fleet Commander) is a member of our crew.

Membership of the Merlin is available to anyone who is a current member of STARFLEET International. There are no additional charges to be a member of the Merlin crew. (Click here to join SFI and select the USS MERLIN - R20 from the chapter list). We welcome fans of Star Trek in all it's iterations from across the globe.

Our "In-Universe" Background Story

The USS Merlin, NCC-26513, is an Ambassador Class Diplomatic Courier working out of Starbase 20. Her primary mission is to serve as part of the Federation's Diplomatic Corps and as such, she carries a crew vastly experienced in Federation law and customs.

The Ambassador Class starship was developed at the Utopia Planatia Fleet Yards but constructed at a number of shipyards. The Merlin heralded from the New Aberdeen Shipyards located at Aldebaran III (also known as Alpha Tauri) and launched on stardate 23785.28. Her first mission was to act as the flagship for Federation Ambassador T'Len of Vulcan on her mission to negotiate Federation membership with the Gebralli.

The mission unexpectedly gave the captain and crew of the USS Merlin a chance to prove their ability to act as a ship of the line when they were ambushed by Breen privateers en route to the Gebralli home world. It was the quick thinking of the XO, Commander Z (a long time student of the tactics of Capt James T Kirk) who noticed that the enemy ship had a weakened deck plate near their sensor arrays. She ordered that a modified photon torpedo be fired, and this disabled both the sensor and weapons arrays. The Merlin, eager to add to the Federation's knowledge of the legendary Breen, locked on their tractor beam and transported a security team onto the Breen ship. The Breen, however, had no intention of surrendering their vessel or revealing their physical form; the CO had initiated the auto-destruct sequence. With seconds to spare, the XO realised this and recalled the Away Team, but not before downloading some essential files from the Breen ship's computers. The Merlin made a hasty retreat, ensuring the safety of the Merlin and the ambassador, but sadly, all hands were lost on the Breen vessel.

Upon their return to Sol, Ambassador T'Len (who was still delivered on time for her conference on Gebralli) commended the crew or working so efficiently during the incident. High praise indeed from a Vulcan Ambassador. The CO, Commodore Richard Sams, then successfully petitioned STARFLEET Command for an upgrade to the defensive capabilities of his ship, arguing that if they were to continue supporting high ranking federation officials, they must have the capability to defend themselves if necessary.

In recognition of her quick thinking, the XO, CDR Z was awarded the Christopher Pike Medal of Valour at a specially convened session of the Federation Council. The medal was presented by Ambassador T'Len.

So what can you actually DO in STARFLEET International aboard the USS Merlin? 

Congratulations! You’ve joined STARFLEET Region 20 and are hopefully about to embark upon one of the most fun and rewarding experiences in your life. The question you might find yourself asking now however may well be, “Now what do I do?”

When I joined in June 2018 as a new crewmember I found myself in those very same shoes but I have since found my place and love every minute of it so I thought I would share some of my experiences in the hope that it might guide you, newcomers, also.

Having joined us on the USS Merlin, you now have the perfect opportunity to meet your fellow crew members and Command staff, all people who have the same love of Star Trek as you. The USS Merlin is what we call a Correspondence Chapter as most of our activity is carried out online, with the occasional meet-up whenever possible for those who are able to make them. Your own circumstances will largely dictate whether you will have mostly just a virtual experience or will be able to join us when we do meet up in real life but whatever you are able to do is absolutely fine! Most of our members are in the UK, but some of us are as far away as New Zealand, so clearly meeting up in person is not as easy for those!

One of the first things you will want to do is join us on our Facebook pages where most of our activity is found. Our Welcome Deck page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/MerlinWelcomeDeck) is our public-facing page, so if you want to get a taste of what it is like to be on the USS Merlin but have not yet joined us, this is a good place to start. Our Ten Forward, Crew Logs, and TV/Game/Film/Book pages are only available to fully joined-up members of that Chapter, of which you are (hopefully) now one! One of the things that have always struck me is that the more you get involved in STARFLEET, the more you get out of it too. To that effect, I wanted to share some ideas of things to do, which might appeal to some and not others. That’s all fine… the whole point is to enjoy yourself so just do what interests you.

Some people might enjoy posting things in their Chapters for others to read, be it funny memes, science or Star Trek articles and news or quite simply anything else that floats your boat (or Starship). You will find that on the USS Merlin there are several departments that you can become involved in - Communications, Engineering, Medical, Operations, Sciences and Security. Each of these departments has a Head Officer who will be more than happy to help you with a role to settle yourself in with and to start to get involved in Chapter activities. More generally within the Region, and even the wider Fleet there are similar departments that also may provide opportunities to get involved: there are various STARFLEET pages on Facebook where you can join in on discussions, ranging from general Members only pages, to STARFLEET Medical. Articles are regularly posted in these groups that you may well find interesting and some opportunities for further involvement might even crop up from time to time, such as the STARFLEET Medical Solar System Challenge (a step-based challenge activity where you try to get as far as you can on various Solar System Bodies). I shall post some of the links to these pages at end of the article, so go and have a peek at them.

Don’t be afraid to get to know the other Chapters in your Region (of which there are currently 13 Region 20 Chapters at the time of writing this article), or even the Fleet either. Other Chapters love having members visit their public pages and join in with their posts and meet their crew. At the end of the day we are one big Star Trek family, so don’t be shy. There will always be someone around who will help to introduce and welcome you and at the very least you will make a ton of new friends!

Should you wish to explore auxiliary departments of STARFLEET, SF Medical, SF Marines (SFMC) or STARFLEET Special Operations SFSO (formerly MACO) all have something you can investigate and get involved in. STARFLEET Medical has Core training levels you can do to rise up the ranks from fictional Starship medic (Core level 1) positions all the way through to Surgeon General level (Core level 10). The STARFLEET Marine Corps has Marine Strike Groups (MSGs) attached to Chapters and occasionally some that are independent of Chapters which are known as Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs). Some groups will meet up for events and others will take Marine Academy courses either individually or collectively as a group to work towards various MOSs (Marine Occupational Specialities). Similarly, SFSO has core level training that you can undertake to progress up the fictional ranks – but the main thing is fun; all of these courses are fun to take, as are the certificates that you get at the end of your efforts to show your achievements!

The Marines aren’t the only ones who have an Academy though… for who could forget the much-loved STARFLEET Academy! You need to be a full member to do the Academy courses but now that you are (and if not, why not yet?), you have full access to literally hundreds if not thousands of courses to take, which are all included in your membership! You can take courses ranging from those focused on the various Alien races through to those involving Intelligence and Espionage. Perhaps you like the more Science, Survival or Medical courses… well now you can do them! Certain courses can lead to further qualifications, such as gaining your Bridge Officer Certification or graduating from the Officer Training School and later the Officer Command College which could one day lead to you progressing further up the ranks. The world is almost literally your oyster within the Academy – it is simply up to you as to which doors you wish to open. If the Academy is something you love, who can even start to work towards joining the Academy as an Assistant Director or Director one day by doing the STARFLEET Academy Orientation College courses and then speaking to staff who may be able to tell you if there are any current vacancies available.

Just one last thing to mention about the Academy – not everyone chooses to use Facebook, which of course is fine. In many ways, this might limit a person as a member of STARFLEET since so many aspects are now to be found on this particular social media outlet. Not so for the Academy, however! Found separately on its own Moodle website it’s very easy to take part and do these courses without even stepping near Facebook. The same applies to the Marine Corps Academy courses.

Being of service is one of the tenets of STARFLEET and should you wish to join in in this respect, there are lots of potential ways you can do so. Asking your command staff is a good way to start as they may well be aware of what is currently needed and whilst this may not be practical while you are still familiarising yourself and finding your own feet, one day you might want to help out and take up the challenge. A little birdie told me for example (it might have been Neelix but shhh don’t tell anyone), that STARFLEET members help desk are always grateful for any assistance they can get.

Lastly, but not least, there is always the newsletter – either the STARFLEET Communique which is published quarterly and is published for the entire Fleet, STARFLEET Medical’s quarterly published Hypospray webzine, or your Regional newsletter which for our Region is the lovely Runabout, published three times a year. Of course, we also have our own Chapter Newsletter, "Here Be Dragons", which we publish four times a year. They would love to hear about your visits to events or places, reviews of episodes or books or anything else that you have a desire to share. Who knows who else you might inspire in turn? Most importantly, all of these newsletters are only as good as the articles that you, the readership, give for them to print... so if you enjoy writing, why not turn your hand to this aspect of STARFLEET?

I have one last thing to mention, which I have briefly touched upon before and that is that most of our pages are on Facebook. We are aware however that this is not everyone's cup of tea, so we do also have a Discord server for both Region 20, and more recently one for the USS Merlin. If you prefer to engage with us through this means, then let us know and we will get you connected. Similarly, if you have other ideas that may work well in terms of social media, then let us know and if practical and doable maybe we can try to see what we can arrange! The only stupid question is a question that isn't asked, after all.

I am sure that I haven’t covered everything in this short article but hopefully have given you some thoughts about just some of the ways to get started. There’s only really one rule here… have fun!


Captain Pip Slack

Commanding Officer,

USS Merlin.