But very comparable. M5's control sabotaged the override system but once disconnected, they were able to begin overriding the system. It's not that different from Scotty's automation system except that once it was disabled, there was no way for them to override it manually.
That's supposition again. It is a complete unknown whether or not the ship could even be operated with that small a crew without the automation center in place; it stands to reason that it couldn't, or else Scotty wouldn't have bothered hooking it up.
It also goes unmentioned that the automation center may or may not be a standard feature aboard the Constitution class, something that can afford limited control of ship's systems in am emergency. In which case, the only thing Scotty would need in order to set it up would be to beam over and put in the password to activate it.
It's not much different than "The Doomsday Machine"? The ship was smashed and 4 guys were able to get the ship to function on manual controls.
They were able to get it to MOVE with manual controls, and then not particularly well. Eventually, they rigged it to maneuver with only a SINGLE person at the controls, which we have also seen half a dozen times in the total history of Star Trek.
So why did Scotty rig an automation center in the first place?
Well if it doesn't appear again it's not the point of impact and part of the sparking.
The "sparking" occurs after
the impact, not during. Three things happen here:
1) Torpedo approaches Enterprise (note the shadow next to the impulse deck
2) Torpedo HITS Enterprise (note the entire starboard portion of the saucer AND THE BRIDGE DOME illuminated, as is the impulse deck; note the shadow is partially glared out but is still almost noticeable)
3) Sparkly after effects (note the shadow is still present but is again partially glared out be the sparks).
The impact point cannot be to port of the impulse deck, because if it was the bridge would cast a shadow on the starboard side of the saucer at the moment of impact (it clearly does not), as seen in the second image. More importantly, Kruge's torpedo is only visible for all of four frames, during which time it crosses in front
of the bridge, from right to left, immediately before impact.
From the camera's point of view, the torpedo could not have passed in front of the bridge AND hit saucer on the port side; the explosion certainly wouldn't have illuminated the STARBOARD side of the bridge dome, as it clearly does in slowmo.
And I'll remind you that the expanding blast is behind that hump in front of the impulse engine which has a shadow casting to the starboard side.
What does that prove since that shadow was already present before the torpedo even hit them?
So the only cadets that get any actual training on a real training ship is the bridge crew? The transporter crew, the maintenance crew that need to do EVAs and other non-ship crew are out of luck?
Quite the opposite, in fact. The whole reason for having a training mission is so that all of the cadets learn how to do their jobs under shipboard conditions: how to do an EVA on a starship in deep space, how to file reports to a shipboard department head, how perform routine maintenance in a crawlspace, how to troubleshoot a bad guidance system on a torpedo using the ship's own equipment (FYI: one of my favorite odd jobs) and so on. It's a chance to get out of the simulator and into the real deal. Having the crew go on surface excursions -- away from the ship into what could only be yet another controlled/simulated environment -- would defeat the whole purpose of a training mission.
Besides, a lot of the equipment they'd have on board for such a mission would be specialized for training purposes in particular. The Navy does this all the time with recoverable munitions -- particularly torpedoes -- and sometimes fitting out surface vessels or submarines with extra components that allow them to realistically simulate major battle damage for the trainees to repair. Starfleet's all about realism on these trips, which is part of the reason why their simulators often burst into flames when the cadets screw up; realism in a safe environment
is fairly difficult to achieve and would require equipment far more specialized than most starships actually carry.
Since the Excelsior had the gear for the duration of Sulu's 3 year mission then the E-A carrying the same kind of gear would suggest that Starfleet was making that a standard load and/or the E-A was going to or already does patrol near the Klingons, IMHO.
Which begs the question: What was Enterprise doing in Spacedock again, with Kirk and crew three months from retirement, and inexplicably in need of a helmsman? That, to me, always suggested that Kirk pretty much grabbed his entire bridge crew -- Spock et al -- from the Academy faculty lounge, kicked off (most of) the cadets and then went on his mission with a volunteer
helmsman who may or may not have just finished training on that very same ship two semesters ago.