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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old September 26 2012, 05:06 PM   #76
J.T.B.
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

The WWII-era USS Enterprise CV-6 was in active service for eight years, in which time it had twelve different captains, not counting the commander who was its CO during repairs at Pearl Harbor in July 1944. (That's right -- a ship in port can have a different commanding officer than it does when it's in service. After all, the captains would be needed elsewhere.)
OT: That wasn't really an assigned CO in those few weeks; Cdr. Hamilton was Enterprise's air officer who was in temporary command after newly promoted RAdm Matt Gardner was detached and before Cato Glover reported. The newly-assigned captain was most likely on leave (customary) before taking his new command, and as she was in the repair dock there was no hurry.

So eight years is, yes, absolutely, plenty of time for Kirk to rise from lieutenant to captain and have at least one command posting. (And TMoST said that Kirk was at commander's rank when he got his first starship command, a destroyer equivalent.)
Especially if there was some kind of "boom" in Starfleet size in Kirk's early career, capable officers would be much in demand to command new vessels. As WW2 ended USN officers from the class of 1939 were starting to get fleet submarine commands, with just over six years experience.

But where would he have proven himself a leader?
As an officer aboard other ships, especially one that distinguishes himself by lots of commendations and even some medals.
It's likely he did distinguish himself, but commendations and medals don't contribute to command experience.

Landing parties, special assignments, and even bridge shifts aboard the vessels he served on. If several of them involved incidents of extreme significance or of importance to Starfleet/the Federation, that would bring attention to him as an officer with command capability. Enough of them strung together could also be looked at as command experience.
A bridge "shift" -- or "watch" to use TOS terminology -- wouldn't count for much since if anything important happened the XO or CO would take over. A very unique landing party circumstance, maybe, though COs and XOs seem to take charge of anything important there, too. But it's still not the same as bearing the final responsibility as commanding officer. The best test for the ability to command a large vessel is command of a smaller vessel, that has been naval practice for 300 years.

It doesn't happen too often in military organizations.
But we do know that leapfrogging does happen in Starfleet.
Yes, but coming up with plausible reasons for it stretches credulity. At any rate, that was a response to a comment comparing military advancement to "other occupations," which are not really comparable.

I agree that there's nothing onscreen that confirms either way, but I think an educated guess weighs toward Kirk having commanded a vessel before Enterprise.
An educated guess could also be that Kirk was fairly young when he became a captain and that the Enterprise was his first command.
But if Kirk was indeed a high-flyer in his early years, as suggested above, that would make it more likely that he would have been selected for command of a small vessel, not less. That is assuming there are smaller ships, which no one here seems to dispute.

Again -- for the third or fourth time -- while all of that may technically be possible, I'm far from convinced that Dehner would have chosen her words that way in that particular context if that had been what she meant. Something can be technically true but still not be something a character would have any reason to call attention to in a particular context.
Agreed, technically possible but not the way people would normally use the language. Dehner was talking about Kirk's and Mitchell's history, not about current events. If she was referring to his current assignment the language would be something more along the lines of "You're the reason he's assigned here" or "You asked for him when you took this command."

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Old September 26 2012, 05:49 PM   #77
Dukhat
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

CoveTom wrote: View Post
I can't believe that there is actually a discussion of "evidence" and "proof" going on here about what was Kirk's first command. I love to debate Trek minutiae as much as the next guy but, c'mon, this is a freakin' work of fiction. There is no truth about Kirk's first command because Kirk doesn't exist. Therefore, what we're really dealing with here is everyone's opinion and interpretation, even if that opinion or interpretation comes from Gene Roddenberry or Bob Justman.

The problem here is that if we're going to discuss a work of fiction in terms of what did or did not happen to the characters, we have to all be working off the same frame of reference. This isn't real life where you have scientific laws to adhere to in doing research. This is fiction where we can pick and choose what we go by. Are we going strictly by what has appeared on-screen and nothing else? Are we using supporting documents such as the writer's guide or "The Making of Star Trek"? Are we including novels? How about the animated series? Etc. etc. etc.

And folks here do not seem to be able to agree upon the standard that is going to be used. And until such time as an agreement can be reached on that, these discussions are going to go nowhere. And they are especially going to go nowhere, and cease to be entertaining and fun, if what we end up with a thread of "my evidence is better than your evidence" type posts.

All IMHO, of course.
QFT (although I will add a proviso that while some people use the writer's guide/bible as some sort of evidence, how many times have those bibles been contradicted by the road that the show ends up taking? Kinda makes them useless as "evidence" IMHO)
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Old September 26 2012, 06:16 PM   #78
Christopher
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

CoveTom wrote: View Post
I can't believe that there is actually a discussion of "evidence" and "proof" going on here about what was Kirk's first command. I love to debate Trek minutiae as much as the next guy but, c'mon, this is a freakin' work of fiction. There is no truth about Kirk's first command because Kirk doesn't exist.
But the thing is -- and I think maybe some posters here are overlooking this -- that "evidence" and "proof" are two very different things. Evidence is simply data that you gather and use to try to arrive at a conclusion. It literally just means "that which is seen" -- it's an observation or result, a data point to be taken into consideration. Proof -- which is more of a vernacular or legal term that you won't really find in scientific usage -- is decisive evidence (or indisputable reasoning, in the mathematical or logical sense), something that leaves no doubt about a certain conclusion.

So calling something "evidence" does not mean it's conclusive or even indisputable. It just means it's data that can be used to evaluate the question. Evidence can support a certain conclusion without being enough to prove it, because of course it usually takes more than a single piece of evidence to arrive at proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If you find the butler's fingerprints on the murder weapon, that's evidence in the case, and it can be taken as evidence in support of the hypothesis that the butler did it; but if you gather more evidence demonstrating conclusively that the jilted lover has gunshot residue on her hand and left her DNA at the scene and drugged the butler and put the murder weapon in his hand, then you've proved that the jilted lover did it. The fingerprint evidence is still evidence, but when placed in the context of the rest of the evidence, it contributes to a different conclusion than it suggested by itself. So evidence and proof are not the same thing. Evidence is data that's open to interpretation; proof is a pattern of evidence that is only consistent with a single conclusion.

So you're absolutely right that we can't talk about proof in a case like this, but we certainly can talk about evidence. Dehner's line is certainly weak evidence, and in the absence of any further evidence its probative value is too limited to allow any firm conclusion to be drawn. But it is perfectly valid to call it evidence. This is just one of those cases where the available evidence is insufficient to allow a definite conclusion -- something which actually happens pretty often in this world.

But the scant evidence we do have does seem to make one conclusion more probable than the other, and in this case, where there will never be any more evidence to allow a firm conclusion, probability is the best we can ever do. And since it is just imaginary, probability and common sense are good enough for me.
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Old September 26 2012, 06:36 PM   #79
C.E. Evans
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Warped9 wrote: View Post
C.E. Evans wrote: View Post
Warped9 wrote: View Post
Incorrect. In the character's bio reprinted in The Making Of Star Trek it says Kirk commanded a destroyer equivalent class starship. This is reinforced by a reference in WNMHGB when Elizabeth Dehner metioning Kirk having asked for Mitchell aboard his first command.
That's incorrect. Or rather, it's your opinion given that there's no onscreen material to support it.

For starters, it doesn't matter if it comes from a book if it doesn't make it onscreen (fans of various reference books written by people who worked on Trek know this very well). Secondly, Dehner's comment doesn't preclude that Kirk's first command was the Enterprise and that Kirk wanted Mitchell to be there with him. So it could go either way--either Kirk was captain of a ship prior to the Enterprise or he wasn't--as there is no way to prove either position from onscreen material.

The only answer to the question in the OP is that there is no official answer, only our personal conjecture and opinions.
I don't think so.
But that's definitely what it is. In the lack of any real onscreen proof either for or against something, all that's left is conjecture and opinion. We fill in the blanks with what we think happened or what fits our own preference of what happened.
J.T.B. wrote: View Post
It's likely he did distinguish himself, but commendations and medals don't contribute to command experience.
But they can be viewed as indications of command ability, and that's obviously what made Kirk a captain more than how many years he had under his belt. If he had to wait a certain number of years to get "the right amount" of experience, he probably would have become a captain later in life.
A bridge "shift" -- or "watch" to use TOS terminology -- wouldn't count for much since if anything important happened the XO or CO would take over.
Tell that to Sulu.
A very unique landing party circumstance, maybe, though COs and XOs seem to take charge of anything important there, too.
Not necessarily, because it isn't a given that every ship in the fleet is run like the Enterprise. Other ships may have officers other than the CO and XO in charge of landing parties.

Additionally, there could be circumstances--usually crisis situations--in which a young officer may distinguish himself or herself in the absence of a senior officer due to being separated, detained, injured, etc.
But it's still not the same as bearing the final responsibility as commanding officer. The best test for the ability to command a large vessel is command of a smaller vessel, that has been naval practice for 300 years.
But it may not be the only way in Starfleet. An officer may prove himself ready for his own command through other means, including service as first officer on a large ship.
Yes, but coming up with plausible reasons for it stretches credulity.
We're talking about Star Trek. Most of it stretches credulity. We either roll with it or we complain about how it isn't like how things are done today.
An educated guess could also be that Kirk was fairly young when he became a captain and that the Enterprise was his first command.
But if Kirk was indeed a high-flyer in his early years, as suggested above, that would make it more likely that he would have been selected for command of a small vessel, not less. That is assuming there are smaller ships, which no one here seems to dispute.
Still doesn't dismiss the possibility. And in the end, Trek is just made up stuff that bows more to creative liberty/dramatic license more to than how things work in the real world today.
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Last edited by C.E. Evans; September 26 2012 at 07:39 PM. Reason: added the word "they"
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Old September 26 2012, 06:59 PM   #80
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

The Wormhole wrote: View Post
Duncan MacLeod wrote: View Post
1.) Mallory helped Kirk into the academy (The Apple), Kirk entered the academy at 17, father dead (backstory from the Writer's Guide)
For the most part your timeline of Kirk's life is pretty damn good, and I see nothing wrong with any of your assumptions or anything.
except for the fact that Kirk was born in 2233 and would be 16 in 2249. And thats fixable just by subtraction a year from his age in the timeline.
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Old September 26 2012, 09:01 PM   #81
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Christopher wrote: View Post
But the thing is -- and I think maybe some posters here are overlooking this -- that "evidence" and "proof" are two very different things. Evidence is simply data that you gather and use to try to arrive at a conclusion. It literally just means "that which is seen" -- it's an observation or result, a data point to be taken into consideration. Proof -- which is more of a vernacular or legal term that you won't really find in scientific usage -- is decisive evidence (or indisputable reasoning, in the mathematical or logical sense), something that leaves no doubt about a certain conclusion.

So calling something "evidence" does not mean it's conclusive or even indisputable. It just means it's data that can be used to evaluate the question. Evidence can support a certain conclusion without being enough to prove it, because of course it usually takes more than a single piece of evidence to arrive at proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If you find the butler's fingerprints on the murder weapon, that's evidence in the case, and it can be taken as evidence in support of the hypothesis that the butler did it; but if you gather more evidence demonstrating conclusively that the jilted lover has gunshot residue on her hand and left her DNA at the scene and drugged the butler and put the murder weapon in his hand, then you've proved that the jilted lover did it. The fingerprint evidence is still evidence, but when placed in the context of the rest of the evidence, it contributes to a different conclusion than it suggested by itself. So evidence and proof are not the same thing. Evidence is data that's open to interpretation; proof is a pattern of evidence that is only consistent with a single conclusion.

So you're absolutely right that we can't talk about proof in a case like this, but we certainly can talk about evidence. Dehner's line is certainly weak evidence, and in the absence of any further evidence its probative value is too limited to allow any firm conclusion to be drawn. But it is perfectly valid to call it evidence. This is just one of those cases where the available evidence is insufficient to allow a definite conclusion -- something which actually happens pretty often in this world.

But the scant evidence we do have does seem to make one conclusion more probable than the other, and in this case, where there will never be any more evidence to allow a firm conclusion, probability is the best we can ever do. And since it is just imaginary, probability and common sense are good enough for me.
Everything you say is valid. My point, perhaps stated inarticulately, was that many people in this thread are arguing -- and very emotionally so -- as though there is a "right" answer supported by evidence, and that anything else is wrong.

Well, of course, there is no correct answer as to whether or not Kirk commanded a ship prior to the Enterprise, because neither Kirk nor the Enterprise are real.

It's that attitude that I don't understand.
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Old September 26 2012, 09:11 PM   #82
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

^Nor do I. All along I've been treating this merely as a matter of probability, what's the more reasonable interpretation. I have no idea why anyone would treat it as an argument about "proving" something that's literally impossible to prove.

So let me ask the question this way: Why would it be desirable to believe that Kirk had no prior command? Is it just because of his youth? Riker was offered his first command at 29, and Picard took command of the Stargazer at 28, though he jumped a couple of steps in rank due to the circumstances. Those are both younger than Kirk was when he took over the Enterprise. So I don't think the youth argument cuts it, at least not in a Trek-universe context.

So what does that leave as a reason for preferring the idea that he had no prior command? TOS never portrayed him as a novice or inexperienced commander; rather the opposite, I'd say.

So it's a mystery to me. Of course we're not talking about something provable, just a matter of individual preference -- but what's the appeal of the idea?
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Old September 26 2012, 09:21 PM   #83
C.E. Evans
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

^^^
Speaking just for myself, I can't say there's any appeal one way or the other. It's just that far stranger things have happened in Trek.
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Old September 26 2012, 09:28 PM   #84
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Hartzilla2007 wrote: View Post
The Wormhole wrote: View Post
Duncan MacLeod wrote: View Post
1.) Mallory helped Kirk into the academy (The Apple), Kirk entered the academy at 17, father dead (backstory from the Writer's Guide)
For the most part your timeline of Kirk's life is pretty damn good, and I see nothing wrong with any of your assumptions or anything.
except for the fact that Kirk was born in 2233 and would be 16 in 2249. And thats fixable just by subtraction a year from his age in the timeline.
Oops. For some reason I had it in my head that he said he was 35 in The Deadly Years. But he actually states that he's 34. Sorry about that.
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Old September 26 2012, 09:42 PM   #85
Dukhat
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Christopher wrote: View Post
So let me ask the question this way: Why would it be desirable to believe that Kirk had no prior command? Is it just because of his youth? Riker was offered his first command at 29, and Picard took command of the Stargazer at 28, though he jumped a couple of steps in rank due to the circumstances. Those are both younger than Kirk was when he took over the Enterprise. So I don't think the youth argument cuts it, at least not in a Trek-universe context.

So what does that leave as a reason for preferring the idea that he had no prior command? TOS never portrayed him as a novice or inexperienced commander; rather the opposite, I'd say.

So it's a mystery to me. Of course we're not talking about something provable, just a matter of individual preference -- but what's the appeal of the idea?
For the record, I actually think that the oft-mentioned factoid about Kirk commanding a destroyer before the Enterprise is a pretty cool idea. However, my original point was that this is not a canonical fact based on just the show itself (and of course, Dehner's vague line in a pilot episode that was quite different from the actual series), and was an idea from a writer's bible that arguably did not make it into the show.
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Old September 26 2012, 10:39 PM   #86
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

^Nobody's claimed that it's a fact, so there's no point in even bringing that up. This discussion has nothing to do with fact. It's just a discussion of which interpretation we find more preferable or reasonable.
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Old September 26 2012, 11:37 PM   #87
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Christopher wrote: View Post
^Nobody's claimed that it's a fact, so there's no point in even bringing that up. This discussion has nothing to do with fact. It's just a discussion of which interpretation we find more preferable or reasonable.
Certain posters were claiming that what was written in the writer's bible and the Making of Star Trek should be taken as fact. But you know what? I'm really tired of talking about this now, so I'll bow out of this discussion.
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Old September 27 2012, 12:44 AM   #88
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Dukhat wrote: View Post
Certain posters were claiming that what was written in the writer's bible and the Making of Star Trek should be taken as fact.
Sorry, but I just reviewed the thread, and I couldn't find a single post where anyone actually said that. Warped9 and Robert Comsol did mention TMoST as an authoritative reference about the creators' intentions, but the word "fact" did not appear in their posts. (Also they did not reference the writers' bible, which has nothing to say on the issue.) Mostly the only people who've used the word "fact" in this thread have been people insisting that it's not a fact. The closest anyone came to calling Kirk's destroyer command a fact was when you referred to it as a "factoid" in your previous post.

Sometimes posters are too quick to respond to what they think they remember other posters saying, rather than taking the time to go back and review what was actually said. We may not be able to arrive at any findings of fact about Kirk's early career, but the facts of what our fellow posters did and didn't say are quite easy to track down with a little care and patience.
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Old September 27 2012, 01:04 AM   #89
Tiberius
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Just to clarify, are we talking about being in command of a ship, or are we talking about being in command of a ship while holding the rank of Captain?
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Old September 27 2012, 01:22 AM   #90
Knight Templar
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Re: Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Not mentioning Gary Mitchell again seems completely reasonable.

Can you imagine Kirk saying out loud

"Remember that time my best friend murdered two crewman and I collapsed a mountain side on him and crushed him to death?
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