Aside from the obvious, that the refit looks better on the big screen, why would a ship nearly twenty years old get such an extensive makeover as opposed to being demolished and replaced with a fresh vessel?
Not to nitpick, but the real world reason was the fact that a 15 year old, fourteen foot long filming miniature was a bit out of date by the late seventies. Otherwise, why not just save the money and use the same one? An HD version of the original design might have actually looked awesome on the big screen.
Treknologically speaking, to our minds, the changes to the ship are almost impossible to render the ship quantitatively "the same ship" - and indeed Decker and co. seemed to regard her as almost "a new ship entirely." However, it could be that Starfleet finds it easy to do. But that's not all to consider.
I've always thought Starfleet ships were somewhat modular. Swap out the sensor suite / warp core / deflector, plug in the new type and off you go. Thus really old space frames like The Excelsior remain viable and in service into the TNG era.
And yet, no Excelsior
class starship ever changed so dramatically as the Enterprise
did. In turn, this may shed some light on the refit itself; we never have seen another one like it.
So, referencing above, I'd say there are four possible iterations.
- Refits like this are easy and commonplace, we just happen to only see the Enterprise
- Refits like this are easy but not commonplace, with Starfleet preferring to build new ships, and for some reasonthe Enterprise is a special exception
- Refits like this are difficult yet commonplace, we just happen to only see the Enterprise
- Refits like this are difficult but not commonplace, with Starfleet preferring to build new ships, and for some reason the Enterprise is a special exception.
For my money, evidence points to either 1 or 4. The cynic in me thinks 4. If Starfleet is a real organization, it's not going to be wasteful in how it spends its time and other resources. And again, odds are this all goes out the window by TNG no matter which is the truth, since as I mentioned the Excelsior
s and Miranda
s do not change so drastically in appearance.
C.E. Evans wrote:
I've always liked Shane Johnson's idea that it started off as an engine upgrade that spiraled out of control and wound up being a total redesign. The Enterprise wound up being a testbed for new systems and components that were incorporated into other designs such as the Miranda- and Constellation-classes.
Scope creep is a bitch.
A fairly obvious reason would be to circumvent the treaty with the Klingons. It's rather inevitable that such a treaty would have clauses on how many ships of a given type the two sides could have, and so forth. Pretending that an essentially all-new ship is a "refit" would no doubt allow Starfleet to exploit a loophole of some sort! Or, refitting could be for real, as Starfleet just plain wouldn't be allowed to build another heavy cruiser from keel up and would just have to make the best of the ships it already had - until the right moment came to break the treaty and start the war. Starfleet would feel much happier about starting the war with refitted rather than unrefitted ships...
I actually haven't heard this exact version put forth before, but this is IMO the best explanation if we assume that refitting a ship is a large degree of effort. This excuse could even make 3 above make sense.
I'm sure he made other suggestions, that he assumed were followed but were not, like the phasers being powered by the warp engines.
I'm not sure what this means. Are you saying that the idea for increasing phaser intensity by routing them through the warp drive was Kirk's idea? If so, why wouldn't he have thought about that while the Enterprise
was flying through the wormhole? Decker had to explain to him that the phasers wouldn't work in the event of engine imbalance.
No, the exact opposite actually.
In the novel by GR, once Decker explained why he countermanded Kirk's phaser order. Kirk was shocked since when he had seen that upgrade as an Admiral he had explained the many times a starship would need phasers when the warp drive might be down. And recommended they scrap the idea. He had assumed they would follow his recommendation.
He couldn't believe that the designers had ignored his opinion and installed it anyway.
Intriguing. I've not heard that. Sounds exactly like Kirk, though.