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Old November 30 2012, 03:38 AM   #1
EmperorTiberius
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What's a Starship?

I know that the term had a special meaning in TOS, but never defined. I rewatched Relics today and Scotty says he served aboard many vessels: freighters, cruisers, starships...
I read Timo's guide to starships a while back, and Timo thinks that they are something akin to Capital ships (correct me if I'm wrong Timo, I don't have the link handy, I might have read it somewhere else).

I have a bit of problem with this, because capital ships were battleships and battlecruisers, and they were marked as such so that enemy nations could quickly assess strength of each nation, and so that they could keep to the treaty limits. Again, correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not good with that time period.

The problem with this in Star Trek is obvious: You can't measure the strength of Federation or Klingons by looking at how many capital ships they have, it's useless. In Star Trek, small ships fight and are crucial to battles as seen in DS9. If Romulans judged the strength of Starfleet by the numbers of Galaxy and Nebula class ships compared to their own Warbirds, they would be in trouble (if indeed those are considered capital ships - Yamato's captain calls them cruisers).

So what are they? Are they simply multi-role ships that can execute any mission given to it? Are they "capital ships" with a different meaning than the original meaning? A slightly different defintion perhaps?
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Old November 30 2012, 03:48 AM   #2
The Wormhole
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Re: What's a Starship?

A starship is basically a ship which flies through space.

In TOS "Starship" seemed to be a seperate classification, the Enterprise was even identified as "Starship Class" on its dedication plaque. Interestingly enough, when we saw the Defiant on Enterprise, its dedication plaque had Constitution class, but the Enterprise in Trek XI was back to Starship class on the plaque.

But yeah, I'd agree that in TOS Starship was a term used for capital ships while in all other Treks it's a generic term for anything that flies in space.
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Old November 30 2012, 03:52 AM   #3
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Re: What's a Starship?

I sort of like the idea of it having some meaning, some sort of purpose. In DS9, even a runabout is considered starship.
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Old November 30 2012, 04:05 AM   #4
The Wormhole
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Re: What's a Starship?

Well, runabouts do have their own USS names and registry numbers. They're clearly more than the average shuttle.
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Old November 30 2012, 04:27 AM   #5
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Re: What's a Starship?

From TOS "Bread ans Circuses"

Merick:"He commands not just a spaceship, proconsul, but a starship. A very special vessel and crew. I tried for such a command."
Interesting to note that Merick commanded the SS Beagle, a merchant marine vessel. It wasn't USS like Enterprise.
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Old November 30 2012, 04:28 AM   #6
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Re: What's a Starship?

The Wormhole wrote: View Post
A starship is basically a ship which flies through space.
Well it's gotta be more than that.

What if it's a fusion-powered sublight transport traveling from Venus to Neptune? No doubt that's "a ship which flies through space". But it's not a starship.
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Old November 30 2012, 04:33 AM   #7
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Re: What's a Starship?

Shawnster wrote: View Post
From TOS "Bread ans Circuses"

Merick:"He commands not just a spaceship, proconsul, but a starship. A very special vessel and crew. I tried for such a command."
Interesting to note that Merick commanded the SS Beagle, a merchant marine vessel. It wasn't USS like Enterprise.
Wasn't he washed out of Starfleet? The S.S. would be for a non-Starfleet vessel, perhaps? I'm sure it wouldn't be nearly as advanced as what Starfleet has.
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Old November 30 2012, 04:34 AM   #8
Ho Ho Homeier
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Re: What's a Starship?

(comment removed)

Shawnster beat me to it in the mention of Merik.
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Old November 30 2012, 04:36 AM   #9
The Wormhole
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Re: What's a Starship?

SchwEnt wrote: View Post
The Wormhole wrote: View Post
A starship is basically a ship which flies through space.
Well it's gotta be more than that.

What if it's a fusion-powered sublight transport traveling from Venus to Neptune? No doubt that's "a ship which flies through space". But it's not a starship.
Okay, I should have said a ship which flies through space at FTL speeds.
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Old November 30 2012, 05:00 AM   #10
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Re: What's a Starship?

Shawnster wrote: View Post
From TOS "Bread ans Circuses"

Merick:"He commands not just a spaceship, proconsul, but a starship. A very special vessel and crew. I tried for such a command."
Interesting to note that Merick commanded the SS Beagle, a merchant marine vessel. It wasn't USS like Enterprise.
As I read the posts before yours, this was my thought, too. I don't think it was just the USS designation which denotes a starship, though. I remember lines about many ships but only twelve starships. Also lines about the rigorous training and tests to become one of those select few... "Court Marial" perhaps?

As far as the "capital ships" analogy: TOS was produced in a time when many things were still thought of in military terms. Roddenberry was a veteran. The "Cold War" with the Soviet Union was still ongoing, as was posturing through shows of scientific and military strength. Since TOS was a product of those times, it is probable "starship" was similar to "capital ship" as it was the finest of its kind.
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Old November 30 2012, 05:29 AM   #11
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Re: What's a Starship?

I remember another relavant occasion:
In Peak Performance, the Ferengi Daimon says that he's reading "another Federation ship coming in, a Starship" suggesting that even in TNG time there might be a special significance.
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Old November 30 2012, 09:48 AM   #12
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Re: What's a Starship?

From my understanding, by Picard's era, a Starship is a space ship that has a FTL drive of notable speed to traverse the distance of two stars in a reasonable amount of time.

Ergo you're going to not grow too old by the time you see that Star you were planning on visiting.

http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Starship

Memory Alpha's definition is somewhat similar.
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Old November 30 2012, 10:58 AM   #13
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Re: What's a Starship?

Why are there never any Starboats. Is it just because it sounds too dorky?
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Old November 30 2012, 11:32 AM   #14
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Re: What's a Starship?

Starships being special is one of those TOS concepts rendered obsolete by later Treks.

Diane Carey's excellent novel Final Frontier (no relation to the fifth movie) was packed with awe for and explanations for why the very first starship (which George Kirk would name "Enterprise" by the end of the novel) was so special. It was the first self-sufficiant ship. The first capable of continuous warp travel, rather than short jumps. The first with enough computing power to store the entirety of the Federation's knowledge. It was the new ship class which would turn the loose alliance of worlds into a truly unified Federation. A culmination of technologies, philosophies and ideals.

...then Enterprise came along and had ships that were essentially the same as the TOS Enterprise an entire century earlier.
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Old November 30 2012, 12:57 PM   #15
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Re: What's a Starship?

I consider a starship to be any commissioned Federation Starfleet vessel bearing a warp (or other faster-than-light) drive, a "U.S.S." title prefix, and its own unique "NCC" or "NX" registry.

Any ship no longer commissioned into Federation Starfleet service -- say, an Oberth-class ship sold to the University of Alpha Centauri for long-term, long-range research projects -- would no longer be considered a starship. Support vessels without their own commissions -- say, the Delta Flyer or the Type-6 Shuttlecraft Goddard -- would not be considered starships. Civilian vessels would not be starships.
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