No, I think you are jumping to a premature conclusion, unless you can explain this quote from Kirk's log entry in "Return of the Archons": "trying to find some trace of the starship Archon that disappeared here a hundred years ago"
What do you mean, explain? There were starships back then, there are starships in every era, and there is absolutely no need to assume that old starships become scoutships and then eventually are downgraded to shuttlecraft.
was duly retired, and new starship classes replaced it; simultaneously, an old surveyor type (say, the Daedalus
class) was retired, and new surveyor classes replaced it. Scouts were retired and replaced; destroyers were retired and replaced; none had to serve in other roles a century later.
(Perhaps a select few did, just as in the real world. But that'd be an exception rather than a rule, just as in the real world. The USN hasn't converted a warship into anything useful of "lesser" status, like, ever. Some "bulky" ships like escort carriers or amphibious landing ships have been fitted with command and communications gear, yes, but that's actually a step up in prestige... In contrast, it has proved impossible to refit the Perry
frigates into law enforcement ships, just like it proved impossible to convert earlier DE or frigate classes into anything useful when their weapons systems got outdated even though their hulls still floated all right. And no cruiser ever became a destroyer!)
the illuminated windows of the saucer section obviously can’t be little more than tiny portholes
Actually, they can't even comfortably be that, or else the Grissom
would be three to four times larger than Kirk's own ship - an impossibility in the dramatic terms of the movie. Even the idea of a 300 meter Grissom
would be a blow to the dramatic setup where the surveyor is easy prey for the Klingons but Kirk's ship is an impossibly powerful adversary.
Can we believe this to be a detachable saucer module with planet landing capability?
Well, it would seem rather silly for any
of the saucers in the Trek universe to be anything but atmospheric-capable frisbees. We've seen one of them perform this function (ST:GEN), and backstage sources support this rationale for the saucers through and through. (The alternative, that of the saucer being "warp-dynamically" advantageous, is a bit silly, because the saucers are located in wildly varying parts of different starships, negating "geometry" concerns.)
Routine landing and takeoff is a different matter altogether, and it doesn't really seem likely that the extremely tightly integrated Oberth
saucer could really swim in and out of its "cradle" on a regular basis.
We really haven't seen transporter-incapable starships or other Starfleet vessels in any of the shows. The Archon
and the Horizon
both may have been fully transporter-capable; it's only the historically ignorant Kirk who suggests that the latter might not have familiarized the Iotians with the concept of teleportation. Logically, it would be very difficult to accept a transporter-less Starfleet vessel after ENT has solidified the introduction date of personnel transporters for Earth vessels...
On the other hand, saucer separation is by no means necessary for atmospheric maneuvering; Kirk's own ship demonstrated that in "Tomorrow is Yesterday" already. If the Oberth
really needed to get down and dirty, she could hover a few meters off the ground and lower a ladder for the intrepid surveyors to disembark on!
The Oberth Class almost looks like the “turtle” of Star Trek ships, slow but capable to reach a high age.
Now that I have no problem with. But only if we assume the Oberth
never was a starship! Those live active lives and die young, often in the hands of adversary starships which keep evolving. Surveyors do not face an evolving threat, and could plausibly be useful even after thousands of years (assuming wear and tear doesn't get them - but building new ships out of old blueprints covers that one, especially in the replicator era where no spare part is too old to be affordably produced).
the severely fractured SS Vico model suggest a length of this ship in excess of 300 meters
Only if we assume that the ship would have a deck structure extending all the way to the outer rim of the saucer, though. And if those tiny dots of light aren't portholes (their placement would make little sense unless the saucer had a dozen decks!), they are probably sensor orifices of some sort, suggesting the outer rim is in fact a maze of sensor elements.
disregarding the possibility that the USS Valiant from “A Taste of Armageddon” was an Oberth Class vessel would deprive the Star Trek Universe of an interesting and historic design evolution link
Or, regarding the possibility would shrink the Star Trek universe by depriving us of a whole category
of ships parallel to the starship lineage...