Star Trek’s First Female Captain Isn’t Janeway Or Strange New Worlds’ Batel

There is a lot of confusion about who the first female Captain in Star Trek was, but despite misinformation, it wasn’t Janeway or even Batel.

Captain Janeway and Captain Batel from Star Trek: Voyager and Strange New Worlds respectively merged side-by-side.


  • Star Trek’s first female Captain is a complicated issue, with different answers depending on how it’s viewed.
  • Captain Hernandez from Star Trek: Enterprise was the first female Captain chronologically in the Star Trek universe.
  • The confusion arises from how Captain Janeway was advertised, leading to her being most closely associated with the title.

Contrary to popular belief, Star Trek‘s first female Captain wasn’t Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) or even Captain Batel (Melanie Scrofano). The title of first female Captain is a complicated issue within the Star Trek franchise, with different answers depending on how the concept is viewed. From an outside standpoint, Star Trek: Voyager‘s Captain Janeway often gets stuck with the title, since she was the first female lead of a series, succeeding characters like Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), and host of other almost exclusively male Captains that had come before her.

Of course, when looked at chronologically, the question of the first female Starfleet Captain becomes more complex. Other series before and after Voyager have included appearances by female Captains, and with newer prequels like Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds providing a look at the Federation before Kirk’s days on the Enterprise, the number of women the franchise had depicted in the big chair continues to grow. However, neither Discovery nor Strange New Worlds gave Star Trek its earliest-known example of a female Captain.

Star Trek’s First Female Captain Made History (Twice)

Before Captain Janeway and Captain Burnham, the late actress Madge Sinclair played Star Trek’s first female Captain, and she did it again in TNG.

Star Trek’s First Female Starfleet Captain Is From Enterprise’s Era

Ada Maris as Captain Hernandez from Star Trek: Enterprise.

In terms of chronology, Star Trek‘s true first female Captain was Captain Hernandez (Ada Maris) from Star Trek: Enterprise. Hernandez was first introduced in Enterprise season 4, episode 3, “Home” as the former love interest of Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) and the newly-minted Captain of the Columbia NX-02. Hernandez and Columbia helped Archer and his crew during the Klingon Augment Virus crisis in the Enterprise season 4 episodes “Affliction” and “Divergence.” The Columbia was the second Starfleet ship ever launched, making Hernandez the unequivocal first female Captain in the Star Trek universe since the only Starfleet Captain before her was Archer.

However, Hernandez is consistently overlooked in the discussion of Star Trek‘s first female Captain, mainly because of names like Janeway or even new characters like Captain Batel. Although an argument for Janeway can be made, Voyager was set in the 24th century, over 200 years after Enterprise. Likewise, Strange New Worlds is set over 100 years after Enterprise and shows like Discovery introduced Captains like Phillipa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) even earlier in the timeline than SNW. The fact that Hernandez’s story wasn’t depicted until the franchise was well-established doesn’t take away from her status as Star Trek‘s first female Captain.

Why There Is Confusion About Star Trek’s First Female Captain

Captain Janeway smiles as she raises a tea cup to her lips in Star Trek: Voyager.

The ongoing confusion about Starfleet’s first female Captain comes from a variety of factors. One of the main ones is how Captain Janeway was advertised when Voyager was first airing. Calling Janeway the franchise’s first female Captain wasn’t exactly wrong, at least from one standpoint. Janeway was technically the first female Captain not introduced as a side character. However, this nuance often gets lost in the discussion, leading the moniker to be most closely associated with Janeway to the detriment of other characters who existed before her chronologically.

The fact that the Star Trek timeline contains many retcons, with new shows and characters being introduced out of order, hasn’t helped either. Hernandez herself is a good example of this, since she was introduced well after a multitude of other female Captains had been, and new female Captains have been introduced since her. However, even though Hernandez was a relatively minor character on Enterprise, the fact that she is truly Star Trek‘s first female Captain should not continue to be ignored.

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