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The Merchant Marines or Merchant Service was a group within the Federation that operated various survey vessels and freighters.

Carstairs, of the USS Enterprise, formerly served on a Merchant Marine freighter in the Alpha Carinae region. His ship had at one time visited Alpha Carinae II to conduct a geology survey of the planet for a mining company. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer")

The SS Beagle, commanded by Captain R.M. Merik, was a vessel operated by the Merchant Service. Merik joined the Service after dropping out of Starfleet Academy during his fifth year. The training requirements to command a spaceship in the Merchant Service was less than that of a starship captain. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses")

William B. Harrison, who was trained as a flight controller, was also a member of the Merchant Service. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses")

Antares assignment patch

"Spacecraft Duty Insignia"

According to an article on StarTrek.com, the assignment patch seen used by the crew of the Antares was a Spacecraft Duty Insignia (as contrasted to the Starship Duty Insignia, which is the arrowhead), used by Auxiliary Fleet and Merchant Marine personnel.

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