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Commander James Hawkins is in charge of the Galaxy Alliance stellar ship S.S. Explorer and commands the Vehicle Voltron. His orders were to find habitable planets for the Galaxy Alliance's overpopulated worlds. He and his friend Captain Newley have explored many different planets on several adventures with the Vehicle Force.
Voltron: Defender of the Universe cartoon continuity
Vehicle Force sub-series
He commands the Explorer and everyone on it, including the Vehicle Force. Hawkins works closely with Captain Newley.
Devil's Due Publishing comics continuity
Hawkins collects five military misfits for a top-secret mission. 
- In the original Armored Fleet Dairugger XIV, Ise Shinji (Commander Hawkins) was ranked Captain and executive officer aboard ship with Admiral Dick Asimov (Captain Newley) as his overall superior officer. The dialogue for the English language Voltron adaptation indicated that Hawkins outranked Newley. However, the animation in several cases gave clear indication of their former ranks. In some scenes, Asimov's lines were given to Hawkins.
- Hawkins name is derived from the protagonist of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel Treasure Island.
- Hawkins voice actor, Peter Cullen, also did the opening narration for the Defender of the Universe series.