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Old August 19 2013, 06:13 PM   #1
Spot261
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Flagship

Ok, I know that "the enterprise is the flagship of the federation" is accepted as canon by most Trekkies, but I'm not sure exactly what this is based on.

Where exactly in the franchise is it established? I can think of several instances of her ACTING as flagship of fleets or battle groups, along with numerous references to her being considered the most powerful/advanced in her various incarnations, but nothing that states definitively that she holds some special well defined and permanent position within the fleet.


This question for me is compounded by my understanding of a flagship as being commanded by a flag officer, which captain is not. The only permanent (matt decker being a temporary state of affairs) commander of the enterprise with flag rank was kirk as admiral in the early movies.
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Old August 19 2013, 06:35 PM   #2
JariM
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Re: Flagship

Spot261 wrote: View Post

This question for me is compounded by my understanding of a flagship as being commanded by a flag officer, which captain is not. The only permanent (matt decker being a temporary state of affairs) commander of the enterprise with flag rank was kirk as admiral in the early movies.
That is true with navies of today and the past.

However the word "flagship" also has other uses. Often it is a term used to refer to the most prominent, important or leading member of a group.
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Old August 19 2013, 07:19 PM   #3
Timo
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Re: Flagship

...And the only time any of the Enterprises is considered a flagship, it is in one of these alternate senses.

The E-D is "Flagship of the Federation" in a couple of episodes and the movie ST:Generations. That's obviously not a military concept at all, because of the "Federation" rather than "Starfleet" bit there. Rather, the E-D apparently is the showpiece vessel of the Federation, being sent to impress the natives in various diplomatic contexts and whenever a bully needs bullying back; we see this happen often in TNG.

In contrast, Kirk's Enterprises never were called the flagship of anything. Neither were the E-B, the E-C or the E-E, or Archer's pre-Federation starship Enterprise. These vessels might have flown the flag of some admiral or another on occasion, or been used as kingpin vessels in starship formations, or paraded around in the "Flagship of the UFP" sense, and indeed many of them were, explicitly and on screen. However, dialogue never associated them with the flagship concept.

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Old August 19 2013, 07:19 PM   #4
CoveTom
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Re: Flagship

As far as I know, the flagship thing only applied to the Enterprise-D of TNG. Certainly, I think that's the only one we ever heard mentioned that way. Off the top of my head, I know Picard referred to it that way in Generations when, speaking of Lursa and B'Etor, he said: "They're just trying to decide whether a twenty year-old Klingon Bird of Prey can be a match for the Federation flagship."

Obviously, the term "flagship" is not being used in the traditional sense, since it's not commanded by a flag officer and isn't leading a fleet. Rather, it seems to be used more in the context of being the most prominent and prestigious and, for a time, most powerful ship in the Starfleet.
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Old August 19 2013, 07:23 PM   #5
Timo
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Re: Flagship

The same is probably true of "finest flagship of the Praetor" in the TOS episode "Balance of Terror": not a formation leader, not a vessel hosting a flag officer, but simply the most presentable vessel of the lot. A bit like HMS Hood was the flagship of the WWII Royal Navy in the sense of being the biggest (well, longest), the most famous, and the one whose loss mattered the most.

In turn, there have been several occasions where the word "flagship" has been used in the military context, and quite correctly. Say, Admiral Nechayev used the Gorkon as her flagship in "Descent". It's just that no Enterprise has ever received that treatment.

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Old August 19 2013, 08:14 PM   #6
The Wormhole
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Re: Flagship

Spot261 wrote: View Post
Ok, I know that "the enterprise is the flagship of the federation" is accepted as canon by most Trekkies, but I'm not sure exactly what this is based on.

Where exactly in the franchise is it established? I can think of several instances of her ACTING as flagship of fleets or battle groups, along with numerous references to her being considered the most powerful/advanced in her various incarnations, but nothing that states definitively that she holds some special well defined and permanent position within the fleet.


This question for me is compounded by my understanding of a flagship as being commanded by a flag officer, which captain is not. The only permanent (matt decker being a temporary state of affairs) commander of the enterprise with flag rank was kirk as admiral in the early movies.
The Enterprise D is referred to frequently on TNG (and the other series which reference the D) as the flagship of Starfleet/the Federation. Pike calls the Enterprise the flagship in Trek XI.

You are essentially correct with your definition of the term flagship in the military context. Although there is also a civilian context which basically means "capital ship" which for some reason Starfleet uses.
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Old August 19 2013, 08:22 PM   #7
MacLeod
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Location: Great Britain
Re: Flagship

JariM wrote: View Post
Spot261 wrote: View Post

This question for me is compounded by my understanding of a flagship as being commanded by a flag officer, which captain is not. The only permanent (matt decker being a temporary state of affairs) commander of the enterprise with flag rank was kirk as admiral in the early movies.
That is true with navies of today and the past.

However the word "flagship" also has other uses. Often it is a term used to refer to the most prominent, important or leading member of a group.
Yes it's this secondary meaning of the word 'flagship' that is being used when we hear the Enterprise being called the flagship of fleet.
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Old August 19 2013, 08:37 PM   #8
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: Flagship

Timo wrote: View Post
...And the only time any of the Enterprises is considered a flagship, it is in one of these alternate senses.

The E-D is "Flagship of the Federation" in a couple of episodes and the movie ST:Generations. That's obviously not a military concept at all, because of the "Federation" rather than "Starfleet" bit there. Rather, the E-D apparently is the showpiece vessel of the Federation, being sent to impress the natives in various diplomatic contexts and whenever a bully needs bullying back; we see this happen often in TNG.

In contrast, Kirk's Enterprises never were called the flagship of anything.
"Our newest flagship deserves more pomp and circumstace than we can afford today." - Captain Pike, Star Trek.
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Old August 19 2013, 09:10 PM   #9
Timo
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Re: Flagship

True enough - I plead "alternate universes don't count" for what really was a lapse of memory.

There is also an important third definition, that of a ship designed and built to serve as a flagship or formation command vessel in times of need if not constantly. The alternate NCC-1701 might fall in that category: she's the newest of the ships built for flagship duties, even if the CO is but a Captain (although just one promotion short of Vice Admiral for some reason!) and there's no separate flag officer aboard for the first mission yet.

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Old August 19 2013, 11:22 PM   #10
J.T.B.
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Re: Flagship

Timo wrote: View Post
A bit like HMS Hood was the flagship of the WWII Royal Navy in the sense of being the biggest (well, longest), the most famous, and the one whose loss mattered the most.
I've never seen anything contemporary referring to Hood that way, I think that would have sounded completely wrong at the time. Hood wasn't even flagship of her fleet; the C-in-C flew his flag in Nelson and then King George V.

And it sounds completely wrong to me when it is said in TNG, but it sounded good to someone and we're stuck with it.
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Old August 19 2013, 11:37 PM   #11
C.E. Evans
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Re: Flagship

I've always looked at "Federation flagship" as being a unique thing to the 24th-Century Starfleet and just an honorific for the vessel mainly chosen to represent the Federation in matters of foreign (or I guess interstellar) policy. In that sense, it's more of a public relations thing than anything else perhaps.

In Starfleet XI, maybe the term flagship is used in lieu of battleship, because Starfleet doesn't believe in having vessels designed mainly for combat (at least prior to the Vengeance anyway).
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Old August 20 2013, 01:53 AM   #12
The Old Mixer
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Re: Flagship

Timo wrote: View Post
The E-D is "Flagship of the Federation" in a couple of episodes and the movie ST:Generations. That's obviously not a military concept at all, because of the "Federation" rather than "Starfleet" bit there. Rather, the E-D apparently is the showpiece vessel of the Federation, being sent to impress the natives in various diplomatic contexts and whenever a bully needs bullying back; we see this happen often in TNG.
This best represents my view of the situation.

In contrast, Kirk's Enterprises never were called the flagship of anything. Neither were the E-B, the E-C or the E-E, or Archer's pre-Federation starship Enterprise.
While these ships were never spoken of as the "flagship", we didn't see very much of the B or the C, and I suspect that the Enterprise started to be considered the flagship during or immediately after Kirk's time. Hence the unusual continuation of the name and registry number, and the media hoopla during the launching of the B.

Also, in the context described above, I imagine that Archer's Enterprise would have been considered the flagship by default (whether or not the specific term was used), given that it was the first Warp 5 vessel and inaugurated a new era of human exploration.
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Old August 20 2013, 02:28 AM   #13
Lance
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Re: Flagship

As Timo said, the TOS ship was never refered to as the flagship of anything. It was obviously the series' flagship, given it was the one whose adventures we were chronicling. But in-universe it was always treated as though the Enterprise was just one of many ships, and that they all were of equal stature within the fleet.

The Enterprise as a flagship didn't really begin until TNG (and as others have pointed out already, even then the term 'flagship' was used in a very loosely defined way).
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Old August 20 2013, 05:30 AM   #14
The Old Mixer
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Re: Flagship

Nobody's disputing that literally, only the D was referred to as the "flagship" onscreen. But the extremely brief onscreen lives of the B and C leave plenty of room for conjecture as to how the Enterprise went from being just another starship in TOS to the flagship of the Federation four generations later. It would be extremely silly to assume that we know all there is to know about the service and missions of the B and C based on seeing only the first day of service of the former and the last day of service of the latter....
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Old August 20 2013, 09:24 PM   #15
The Wormhole
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Re: Flagship

The Old Mixer wrote: View Post
Nobody's disputing that literally, only the D was referred to as the "flagship" onscreen. But the extremely brief onscreen lives of the B and C leave plenty of room for conjecture as to how the Enterprise went from being just another starship in TOS to the flagship of the Federation four generations later. It would be extremely silly to assume that we know all there is to know about the service and missions of the B and C based on seeing only the first day of service of the former and the last day of service of the latter....
Certainly there's strong evidence to imply the B was the flagship, after all, it had the big launch ceremony with all the media coverage. I doubt that happens for just any new starship. And therefore the C likely is too, since both its predecessor and successor were the flagship.
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