137th Gebirg wrote:
^^^ I like the C-130 analogy for the Miranda. That definitely fits.
I also agree with the refit statement above, although I wouldn't attribute it to "propaganda", per se, but as others have postulated, a test-bed for new components that would eventually be used to build fresh new ships from scratch. I agree that the original 12 (many of which were lost in the line of duty by TMP anyway) mostly retained their original TOS-like configuration and Enterprise was chosen for refit and may have been the only one. All future ships we refer to as a "refit Connie" (like the Yorktown/Enterprise-A/WhateverTheHellItWasCalled) were likely built new and never from refits as, yes, I would agree that would require an impractical level of effort. Thus, fully explaining a completely different interior layout, like the bridge module, crew quarters, torpedo room, main engineering and shuttlebay.
But that would leave us missing an explanation for why the Enterprise-A was decommissioned only a handful of years after TFF. If it's a brand new ship, that means it's only been part of the fleet for five or six years total before being pulled from service altogether. If the point was simply to retire the existing Enterprise crew, they would have simply done that and put Captain Harriman on the Enterprise-A instead of building a totally new starship (to a new configuration, no less) to replace the OTHER totally new starship they just built.
I think, on the other hand, the Enterprise-A was another technology guinea pig, possibly an early testbed for the technologies that later went into the Excelsior class (hence the different bridge design and an engine room that looks remarkably
similar to the galaxy class
). It could very well be that all of the Constitutions left in service by Wrath of Khan are rearline ships that never do any real exploring anymore; 1701 was an academy training vessel and 1701-A was a host for brand new technologies that Starfleet hadn't quite figured out how to make work correctly (hence in TFF, half their systems don't work and they have less than a skeleton crew aboard). In TUC, Enterprise is being sent purely because of Kirk's reputation (the Klingons think he's a complete badass) and they don't want some callow youth to think he can get lucky.
It's more likely that the heyday of the Constitutions was around the time of the Cage and the entire class was already in the process of being replaced by the time TOS came around; arguably, the M5 test could be interpreted as the beginning of the end, since it means Starfleet was already trying to come up with a replacement of the Constitution's duotronic circuitry (which they very probably DID; again, the new computers from TFF might actually be a thoroughly reprogrammed M5 unit).