The Archon 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.
Do you also know when
was retired? For all we know this starship could have still been in service while new classes of starships had arrived and outdated this old starship. Would it still have classified as a "starship"?
Commodore Mendez' remark about Pike's accident aboard an "old J-Class starship" still deserves further evaluation, IMHO.
Almost seems he wanted to tell Dr. McCoy that this had been a starship once but was "old" (new classification "cadet vessel"?) which apparently is obvious because it had been downgraded to J-Class.
Amidst the longevity of designs like the Miranda Class I feel that analogies to our current and rather short-lived navies will not really help us here.
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.
Very nice Tsiolkovsky allusion! But "extremely tightly integrated Oberth
saucer"?!? The saucer rests flat on the warp sled and is apparently hold in place by the ventral knob and a couple of unseen clamps near the stern of the saucer module.
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...
Have you been drinking again too much from your bottle of GUT and Retcon Brandy?
If there's anybody who may be "historically" ignorant it's not Kirk or the producers and writers of the original series (no fault or contradiction whatsoever here) but those that came later and didn't do proper treknological research and/or decided to ignore what had been suggested and established in "The Piece of the Action" (Kirk a capable car driver anyone?
While the Daedalus Class may have had transporters or not, the First Contact protocols of that era may have called for a physical show of spaceship hardware, very much like the Vulcans did in ST VIII and I think this
illustrates the issue almost too well.
A show of transporter technology may have been acceptable upon Second Contact (provided it did even exist, then, according to the TOS creators).
But whatever the case, the Horizon
(or its primary sphere) did
land on Sigma Iotia, that much is evident from the opening dialogue in the episode.
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!
I'd love to see this illustrated in a believable fashion. Maybe I should have been more precise in the treatise: The grim fate of both the Horizon
and the Essex
suggests that bringing your whole ship into the atmosphere of the new natives isn't necessarily the best way to start relations ("Hope you don't mind that little radioactive fallout because our antimatter confinement failed?").
Anti-Gravity concerns notwithstanding, it's obviously more reasonable to land that part of your starship where there is less danger involved contaminating the natives with radioactivity...
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...
There are plenty of fan proposals what those lesser ships could look like, so I don't really see the big loss you are trying to propagate.
I think to have an idea what the ill-fated USS Valiant
from the Eminiar VII expedition could have looked like plus
the prospect of looking at the design link between Enterprise
is more, not less. YMMV, of course.