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On starships or starbases, the chief engineer is in charge of all engineers and engineering duties.

The Asst. chief engineer's duties range from making the duty shift roster for engineering personnel to advising the Captain on possible solutions for certain technical problems. In general the chief engineer is an officer with enough experience in his or her own field of expertise and with seniority over the rest of the engineers. A chief engineer is also a member of the senior staff and accountable for the overall performance of the vessel.