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Old October 23 2013, 06:50 AM   #1
Captain Jed R.
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Service length of certain ship classes

Forgive me if this is a question that has been asked a million times before, but it is one that has always intrigued me.

In TNG, I understand the practical reasons for the use of old Miranda and Excelsior class ships - they were models that already existed, so money didn't need to be spent making new ships for the show unless they had it/wanted to make new ships. But I'm curious - from what little I know of maritime history (far less than I should), which informs certain principals in Star Trek by virtue of the "navy in space" vibe, ships usually don't serve a straight century. Thirty, forty, maybe even fifty years, but not a straight one hundred. I'm not sure whether ship classes or designs last that long though. Is there some real life precedent for the long life of the Miranda and Excelsior designs? Could it be perhaps that they aren't even the same class anymore, except in outer shell, but the hull design is kept for expedience's sake?

As a counterpoint: the Ambassador and Constellation designs are essentially written off as "old designs" prior to the CGI switch of DS9/Voyager. While I can accept the generally held age of the Constellation design as being comparable to, say, the Constitution refit or the Miranda due to the obvious Constitution style elements of her design, the Ambassador is hardly that old. Production-wise, I don't see that it makes sense to abandon the Ambassador at least as a write-off when the show gets to DS9 and the CGI era and yet somehow the Miranda and Excelsior don't get the same write-off, especially in the face of there being newer ships like the Akira around to replace them when CGI comes around.

So I suppose it's a twofold question - is the length of the service of the ship classes realistic, and what might the reasons for dropping certain designs be?

Apologies if this is the incorrect section.
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Old October 23 2013, 10:24 AM   #2
mickmike
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

I don't think it's unrealistic for there to be 100 year old starship classes in Star Trek any more than i think it's unrealistic for a starship to be able to travel at warp.


I remember reading the reason that no Ambassador or Constellation class ships appeared when the switch occured to cgi was that the models were either lost/destroyed before they could be scanned to create a cgi model. A similar thing happend to the norway class it's cgi model was lost and couldn't be found/recovered.
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Old October 23 2013, 10:34 AM   #3
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

The U.S. Air Force's B-52 bombers are currently expected to remain in servce until 2045... 90 years after production of the B-52 had started.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carriers first entered service in 1975 with a planned lifespan of 50 years for each ship. The final Nimitz-class carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush, was comissioned in 2009 which means it could remain in service past 2050.

Last edited by Ensign_Redshirt; October 23 2013 at 11:19 AM.
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Old October 23 2013, 10:49 AM   #4
Captain Jed R.
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

So there is a military precedent for old ship classes? Interesting.

It's a shame if they did lose the Ambassador model, but I had read on memory alpha that it was a conscious decision rather than any loss of the filming model. In either case, sad, as I rather like the Ambassador design.
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Old October 23 2013, 02:39 PM   #5
The Wormhole
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

Presumably with technological advances having ships in service for a century isn't that hard to pull off. Indeed, I believe the TNG tech manual states the Galaxy class has a life expectancy of 100 years.

As for why ships like the Ambassador class or the Constellation ceased to be in service sooner than older ship designs, possibly those particular classes were discovered to have some sort of technical flaw which necessitated they be decommissioned prior to their expected service length.
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Old October 23 2013, 03:20 PM   #6
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

I'd also add that Mirandas and Excelsiors (among others) could be in production for decades.

So it may seem the Excelsior class, as a whole, has been around for 100 years. That doesn't necessarily mean each vessel is a century old. The Excelsiors of Kirk's era were retired and newer, more advanced Excelsiors stayed in production for decades so that a Picard era Excelsior might only be 25 years old.

We see Mirandas in the 24th century, but they aren't necessarily 100 year old ships. The design stayed in production, with more advanced systems and engines and so on.

Now why Star Fleet would keep building new versions of Excelsiors and Mirandas rather than more current Ambassadors, that's another question...
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Old October 24 2013, 02:18 AM   #7
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

Captain Jed R. wrote: View Post
So there is a military precedent for old ship classes? Interesting.
And, in the occasional freak event, there's also precedent for particularly old individual ships even in the modern age where steam, steel, and electricity were available: the Himalaya was a ship, at the time a coal hulk, sunk by a German bomb during World War II; the Royal Navy had originally purchased it from the P&O steamship company in July 1854 (as a troop ship).

(If I'm reading my reference correctly the ship bounced between the P&O and the Royal Navy, depending on the needs of both agencies, between the 1850s and the 1940s.)
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Old October 24 2013, 02:35 AM   #8
Lance
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

I've often thought it might have been cool if they'd actually stuck to their original plan to make the Stargazer a movie-era Constitution Class, but still built the four nacelled Constellation variant as a 24th century ship design. Might have been nice to imply that they were the ships that came after Excelsior, and were kind of the 24th century 'cruiser class', instead of using the Excelsior class ships in that role.

The way 'The Battle' and 'Peak Performance' portray it, it's as if the Stargazer and her like are a similar vintage to the original Constitution, whereas the Excelsior Class (well into her century at that point) is still used. Always stretched credibility a bit IMO.
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Old October 24 2013, 02:49 AM   #9
The Wormhole
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

SchwEnt wrote: View Post
So it may seem the Excelsior class, as a whole, has been around for 100 years. That doesn't necessarily mean each vessel is a century old. The Excelsiors of Kirk's era were retired and newer, more advanced Excelsiors stayed in production for decades so that a Picard era Excelsior might only be 25 years old.
True, although it's worth noting the Excelsior itself was still in service as late as TNG's seventh season, 2370 giving it over eighty years of service.
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Old October 24 2013, 04:00 AM   #10
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

I'd imagine Trekverse ships are built to last. The basics of Trek tech have remained the same from Enterprise through to DS9/Voy, with a little upgrading there's no reason the old Excelsiors and Mirandas can't still be out there doing their thing.

King of long lasting ships in Trek is the D7/K'tinga-class Klingon battlecruiser. First seen in 2151 (ENT: "Unexpected") and last during DS9's later seasons a whopping 225 years later. No wonder Klingon ships are all dank and rusty inside!
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Old October 24 2013, 03:31 PM   #11
grendelsbayne
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

The Wormhole wrote: View Post
SchwEnt wrote: View Post
So it may seem the Excelsior class, as a whole, has been around for 100 years. That doesn't necessarily mean each vessel is a century old. The Excelsiors of Kirk's era were retired and newer, more advanced Excelsiors stayed in production for decades so that a Picard era Excelsior might only be 25 years old.
True, although it's worth noting the Excelsior itself was still in service as late as TNG's seventh season, 2370 giving it over eighty years of service.
Just out of curiousity, what is this based on?
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Old October 24 2013, 03:56 PM   #12
Captain Jed R.
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

grendelsbayne wrote: View Post
The Wormhole wrote: View Post
SchwEnt wrote: View Post
So it may seem the Excelsior class, as a whole, has been around for 100 years. That doesn't necessarily mean each vessel is a century old. The Excelsiors of Kirk's era were retired and newer, more advanced Excelsiors stayed in production for decades so that a Picard era Excelsior might only be 25 years old.
True, although it's worth noting the Excelsior itself was still in service as late as TNG's seventh season, 2370 giving it over eighty years of service.
Just out of curiousity, what is this based on?
It isn't the same Excelsior. There's references to an Excelsior but apparently it's this one:

http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/USS_...ior_(NCC-21445)
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Old October 24 2013, 04:06 PM   #13
J.T.B.
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

Nebusj wrote: View Post
And, in the occasional freak event, there's also precedent for particularly old individual ships even in the modern age where steam, steel, and electricity were available: the Himalaya was a ship, at the time a coal hulk, sunk by a German bomb during World War II; the Royal Navy had originally purchased it from the P&O steamship company in July 1854 (as a troop ship).
That's definitely a long life, but we should point out that more than half of it was spent immobile in harbor.
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Old October 24 2013, 04:08 PM   #14
grendelsbayne
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

J.T.B. wrote: View Post
Nebusj wrote: View Post
And, in the occasional freak event, there's also precedent for particularly old individual ships even in the modern age where steam, steel, and electricity were available: the Himalaya was a ship, at the time a coal hulk, sunk by a German bomb during World War II; the Royal Navy had originally purchased it from the P&O steamship company in July 1854 (as a troop ship).
That's definitely a long life, but we should point out that more than half of it was spent immobile in harbor.
Of course, this isn't necessarily impossible within Starfleet, either. Looking over the Memory Alpha article for the (original) Excelsior seems to suggest that that ship spent several years in Spacedock, at least during its first decade of service.
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Old October 24 2013, 05:22 PM   #15
GameOn
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Re: Service length of certain ship classes

SchwEnt wrote: View Post
So it may seem the Excelsior class, as a whole, has been around for 100 years. That doesn't necessarily mean each vessel is a century old. The Excelsiors of Kirk's era were retired and newer, more advanced Excelsiors stayed in production for decades so that a Picard era Excelsior might only be 25 years old.

We see Mirandas in the 24th century, but they aren't necessarily 100 year old ships. The design stayed in production, with more advanced systems and engines and so on.

Now why Star Fleet would keep building new versions of Excelsiors and Mirandas rather than more current Ambassadors, that's another question...
The registry numbers of the ships confirms that they are much newer builds. The Miranda goes into the 31,000's and the Excelsiors goes into the 43,000's. The Ambassador only seems to go into the 26,000's so despite being a newer design it seems to have been abandoned in favour of building more Miranda and Excelsior class ships.
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