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

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Old September 8 2013, 03:41 AM   #1
Praetor
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Imagine the TOS Starfleet

I've been thinking a lot lately about Starfleet as established solely on TOS, and beginning to think that if we consider only what we see on TOS, we'd get an entirely different picture than we get when we take the franchise as a whole.

Using only evidence established in TOS and related materials that pre-dated TNG and her spinoffs, what can we discern about Starfleet, her ships and their technology, and her officers?

A few facts:
  • We know that the authority the Enterprise answers to is a "combined service"
  • We know that there are "12 like the Enterprise" in the fleet
  • We know that Star Central and UESPA are somehow related
  • We know that the Enterprise frequently gets referred to as an Earth ship
  • We know there is at least one ship crewed solely by Vulcans (the Intrepid) - do we actually know she's the same type as the Enterprise?
  • We have seen several other members of the class that the Enterprise belongs to, and seen reference to registry numbers (but no names) of other ships
  • We know that there is a firm distinction between spaceships and Starships
  • We hear several references to "Earth ships" and "Earth bases" but rarely to "Starfleet" or "Federation" ships
  • It appears different ships have different insignia on their uniforms but share the same rank structure
To start, to me most of this suggests that Starfleet is less like the U.S. Navy and more like NATO command... ships from various navies with similar command structures working together on missions for their mother alliance. There's probably some sharing of technology.
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Old September 8 2013, 08:18 AM   #2
CrazyMatt
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

Praetor wrote: View Post
I've been thinking a lot lately about Starfleet as established solely on TOS, and beginning to think that if we consider only what we see on TOS, we'd get an entirely different picture than we get when we take the franchise as a whole.

Using only evidence established in TOS and related materials that pre-dated TNG and her spinoffs, what can we discern about Starfleet, her ships and their technology, and her officers?

A few facts:
  • We know that the authority the Enterprise answers to is a "combined service"
  • We know that there are "12 like the Enterprise" in the fleet
  • We know that Star Central and UESPA are somehow related
  • We know that the Enterprise frequently gets referred to as an Earth ship
  • We know there is at least one ship crewed solely by Vulcans (the Intrepid) - do we actually know she's the same type as the Enterprise?
  • We have seen several other members of the class that the Enterprise belongs to, and seen reference to registry numbers (but no names) of other ships
  • We know that there is a firm distinction between spaceships and Starships
  • We hear several references to "Earth ships" and "Earth bases" but rarely to "Starfleet" or "Federation" ships
  • It appears different ships have different insignia on their uniforms but share the same rank structure
To start, to me most of this suggests that Starfleet is less like the U.S. Navy and more like NATO command... ships from various navies with similar command structures working together on missions for their mother alliance. There's probably some sharing of technology.
I think a lot of the confusion is that what we would now consider Starfleet in the TOS era really wasn't fleshed out until the second season. Or the UFP, for that matter.

They might be canon, but I really don't put any stock in "Star Central and UESPA." There's the Federation--the civilian government, and Startfleet, the Federation's exploration/military arm.

Starfleet has a significant number of ships. The most advanced and powerful are called "Starships," and it's stated in the dialog that there are twelve (or thirteen*) of them.

Obviously, the Enterprise is one, as are (by visual confirmation during the original production--no re-imaginings allowed!) the Constellation, the Exeter, the Lexington, the Hood, the Excalibur, the Potemkin, and the Defiant. Based on actual spoken dialog, we can also conclude the Farragut ("Obsession") and the Intrepid ("The Immunity Syndrome") are as well.

There an official production team-blessed starship name list published in "The Making of Star Trek;" interestingly, it contains 14 ship names, not 12, and doesn't include the Defiant (however, it states that the Constellation, having been destroyed, would likely be replaced; it's possible the Defiant was her replacement).

*Kirk in "Tomorrow is Yesterday": "There are only twelve like it in the fleet." Does that mean a total of 12, including the Enterprise, or 12 others like the Enterprise (implying 13 in total)????
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Old September 8 2013, 12:50 PM   #3
BoredShipCapt'n
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

CrazyMatt wrote: View Post
*Kirk in "Tomorrow is Yesterday": "There are only twelve like it in the fleet." Does that mean a total of 12, including the Enterprise, or 12 others like the Enterprise (implying 13 in total)????
Well, Mister Rogers used to say, "There's only one like you in the whole world!" I hope that didn't mean every kid had a doppelganger.
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Old September 8 2013, 02:15 PM   #4
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

Praetor wrote: View Post
We know that the authority the Enterprise answers to is a "combined service"
I think Kirk was referring to Starfleet being a combination of the Air Force, Navy, Army, Marines and Coast Guard.

I always got the feeling when watching TOS that the Federation itself was much younger than the spin-offs said.
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Old September 8 2013, 05:13 PM   #5
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

And was that 12 a static number? Personally, I like the large number of Connies in FJTM & SOTSF, and figure that a small number of them are outfitted for independent duty, as the Enterprise is during TOS. It wasn't, IMO, during the 2 pilots, but was refit to independent duty specs after WNMHGB.
So when Kirk brings it up, his ship is one of 12 or 13 with those specs and that special status. Before TWOK, it isn't anymore. Those honors have passed to other ships. As more ships get built, more of them can be independent duty.
Regarding the age of the UFP, I like the idea of the organization going back around a century, so my thinking is: In the 2160's the big 5 (Andor, Alpha Centauri, Vulcan, Tellar, and Terra) form an alliance: UN/NATO writ large. UESPA was the Terran branch of the combined military. Back when it was formed, it was an allied military, but over the last century, it's been molding each world's militaries into a single standardized model, and the Babel conferences have been slowly consolidating each world's sovereignty into the whole. Sometime in the 2260's, the work was complete, and the politics finally came together to turn the UFP from a non-governmental organization akin to the UN into a binding government ala the US federal government. The TMP uniforms are the first new issue of the (finally) consolidated Starfleet. Prior to that, Starfleet was a theoretical term describing the combined military services of all members, but in practical use, UESPA told Terran ships what to do, Vulcan High Command told Vulcan ships what to do, etc.
By the time Kirk brings his ship back after the 5 year mission, all those agencies have finally been folded into one, and just as he gets promoted, the uniforms change over - the new organization wants it's own uniforms, not one inherited from it's predecessors. Technical architecture has been pushed to develop the whole new aesthetic for the new service, as seen in the revamped appearances of everything in TMP, and perhaps that, as much as any technical capabilities, is why the switch from reactors in nacelles to reactor in the hull.
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Old September 8 2013, 09:33 PM   #6
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

^^ Concise summary in a nutshell and a theory that matches the observable facts, I like it very much.

Why only 12 ships? IIRC the US Navy had 12 aircraft carriers in the 1960's and this was an inspiration. I won't rule out the possibility that there were differences in opinion between Gene Roddenberry (12 are enough) and Bob Justman (12 are not enough).

Apparently the basic quote from "Tomorrow Is Yesterday (TY)" compelled D.C. Fontana to suggest to establish the names for the "12 ships of the starship class" included in Starfleet. Bob Justman got a copy of the proposal and wrote Gene Roddenberry which names he felt should be established for the "12 ships of the Enterprise Starship Class".

To me that looks like Bob Justman wanted to interpret Kirk's line in TY as 12 ships of the Enterprise Class (next to "starships" of other classes). However, the summary of the name finding process in The Making of Star Trek reads as if [Gene Roddenberry] felt 12 are enough (could also explain "the only starship in interception range" in TMP and beyond).

It really depends how many starships Starfleet had in the first place to make an impression at the Altair VI festivities in "Amok Time". Admiral Komack wanted the Enterprise to be one of three (next to Excalibur and Endeavor). I'd speculate that a show of strength would at least require 10% of your available starships (i.e. a total of 30).

On the other hand it had been possible to draw 5 starships from active duty in the M-5 computer wargames (already tested in simulation!) in "The Ultimate Computer". I'd speculate again that you shouldn't withdraw more than 10% of your starships from active duty (i.e. a total of 50)

"United Earth Space Probe Agency"? Either Kirk didn't want to tell Captain Christopher more than he could digest or the Enterprise was still operating under the authority of the UESPA.
Apparently it was during the times of "The Cage" and "WNM" because we can clearly see the United Earth (i.e. United Americas) insignia on overalls.
Then you have mostly Anglosaxon names for the Enterprise starships.

However, increasing tensions with the Klingons and the Romulan Star Empire in the first TOS season could have transformed "Earth and its allies" from "NATO" to Starfleet.

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Old September 9 2013, 01:44 AM   #7
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

That'd be something to work out. My idea was that the transition was a long-planned and intended one, rather than a shotgun wedding for fear of Bubba Klingon invading the party! Or maybe it was planned, but was supposed to be completed around 2300, and the Organian conflict pushed it up?
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Old September 9 2013, 01:53 AM   #8
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

My question is...is Star Fleet just Earth's branch of the United Federation of Planets and do other members have their own version of Star Fleet? I know there was a Vulcan ship in Star fleet hence the confusion.
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Old September 9 2013, 03:03 AM   #9
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

Praetor wrote: View Post
  • We know there is at least one ship crewed solely by Vulcans (the Intrepid) - do we actually know she's the same type as the Enterprise?
CrazyMatt wrote: View Post
Based on actual spoken dialog, we can also conclude the Farragut ("Obsession") and the Intrepid ("The Immunity Syndrome") are as well.
Just out of curiosity, what is the dialogue you're referring to? I don't recall anything from the episodes themselves that would require either Farragut or Intrepid to be the same class as the Enterprise. (For Intrepid, if you're referring to the 400 Vulcans, I'm not sure that's conclusive.)

Of course, I can't figure out why so many people want Republic to be the same class as Enterprise either. Variety is good!
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Old September 9 2013, 03:07 AM   #10
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

Praetor wrote: View Post
We know that there are "12 like the Enterprise" in the fleet
Part of the problem with this is that we don't really know how big the Federation is in the mid 23rd century, nor the size of Starfleet. The more Federation you have, the more Starfleet you get.

To start, to me most of this suggests that Starfleet is less like the U.S. Navy and more like NATO command... ships from various navies with similar command structures working together on missions for their mother alliance.
This is what I take from the series, it does explain a lot of things through the multiple series, but doesn't agree with everything.

Darkwing wrote: View Post
Sometime in the 2260's, the work was complete, and the politics finally came together to turn the UFP from a non-governmental organization akin to the UN into a binding government ala the US federal government.
I keep coming back to a couple of pieces of dialog. In Spectre Of The Gun, Kirk referred to the United Federations of Planets in the TOS era as "... a vast alliance of fellow creatures ..."

In Azati Prime, Daniels refers to the multiple species in the Federation as being "... unified in a powerful alliance." Daniels was talking about the Federation of the 26th century.

To me that just doesn't sound like a federal government.

CrazyMatt wrote: View Post
They might be canon, but I really don't put any stock in "Star Central and UESPA." There's the Federation--the civilian government, and Startfleet, the Federation's exploration/military arm.
Never had a problem with UESPA being the ship's operating authority. While Starfleet is the command structure, the ship is operate by/works for one of the United Earth's agencies, in this case the "space probe agency."

UESPA is no worse an acronym than USDOD (United States Department of Defense).

Robert Comsol wrote: View Post
"United Earth Space Probe Agency"? Either Kirk didn't want to tell Captain Christopher more than he could digest or the Enterprise was still operating under the authority of the UESPA.
If Kirk wanted to avoid confusing Christopher he could have told him the Enterprise was part of the US Navy. Which it sounds like what Christopher was assuming anyway, and Kirk could have simply followed his cue. Or Kirk just told him the truth.

BillJ wrote: View Post
I always got the feeling when watching TOS that the Federation itself was much younger than the spin-offs said.
Whom The Gods Would Destroy seem to indicate that "something" happen to change the Federation about fifteen years back. So while it was formed a century before, a event happen. Perhaps something cultural?

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Old September 9 2013, 03:25 AM   #11
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

^I was thinking of bringing that up. In my head canon, the Federation was initially a loose alliance. After Axanar, it became more of a central government, and we were seeing the transition during TOS. The Intrepid would be one of the first steps towards "assimilating" the various individual space agencies into what had been Earth's Starfleet.
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Old September 9 2013, 03:35 AM   #12
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

^ "Journey to Babel" certainly made the TOS Federation look similar to the UN, since they sent Ambassadors to Babel to decide on the Coridan issue. If it was supposed to be a federal government, you think they would have just handled that in the halls of government.

Also, "Amok Time" mentioned that T'Pau was the first person to refuse a seat on the Federation Council, which makes it sound more like a UN council or committee, rather than an elected government as the later series seem to indicate.
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Old September 9 2013, 04:29 AM   #13
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

Praetor wrote: View Post
  • We know that the authority the Enterprise answers to is a "combined service"
  • As pointed out this means a combination of the various military forces. Tomorrow Is Yesterday is an odd episode as it was originally going to be the second part of the story started in The Naked Time. As such it has artifacts from the first half of Season One.

  • We know that there are "12 like the Enterprise" in the fleet
  • I can't imagine Starfleet is limited to 12 ships. That would mean the majority of fleet was at Starbase 11 getting repairs in Court Martial.

  • We know that Star Central and UESPA are somehow related
  • USEPA is probably Earth's Space Exploration arm and works with Starfleet in joint operations that use Starfleet personnel. I don't recall a Star Central in TOS. There is a Vulcan Space Central.

  • We know that the Enterprise frequently gets referred to as an Earth ship
  • IIRC, that mostly happens in the first half of Season One. Afterwards it's Federation or UFP. Later terminology trumps earlier ones

  • We know there is at least one ship crewed solely by Vulcans (the Intrepid) - do we actually know she's the same type as the Enterprise?
  • All we know is it was in for repairs at Starbase 11 and was destroyed a few years later TOS-R makes it a Connie.

  • We have seen several other members of the class that the Enterprise belongs to, and seen reference to registry numbers (but no names) of other ships
  • IIRC we've seen five in TOS. One in The Doomsday Machine one in The Tholian Web and three in The Ultimate Computer.


  • We know that there is a firm distinction between spaceships and Starships
  • Starship may be a term reserved for military vessels. The Klingons were said to have starships in Errand of Mercy.

  • We hear several references to "Earth ships" and "Earth bases" but rarely to "Starfleet" or "Federation" ships
  • As I mentioned, "Earth ship/base" pretty much disappears in the first season. Starfleet and Federation are probably mention more.

  • It appears different ships have different insignia on their uniforms but share the same rank structure
Not all, as we see non-Enterprise personnel sporting the delta.

To start, to me most of this suggests that Starfleet is less like the U.S. Navy and more like NATO command... ships from various navies with similar command structures working together on missions for their mother alliance. There's probably some sharing of technology.
We've never seen any other navies, so I don't see how this could be the case.
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Old September 9 2013, 04:48 AM   #14
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

I've never read any more into Kirk's "combined service" line than simply not wanting to reveal anything more to Capt. Christopher than he had to at that stage.
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Old September 9 2013, 07:38 AM   #15
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Re: Imagine the TOS Starfleet

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Praetor wrote: View Post
To start, to me most of this suggests that Starfleet is less like the U.S. Navy and more like NATO command... ships from various navies with similar command structures working together on missions for their mother alliance. There's probably some sharing of technology.
We've never seen any other navies, so I don't see how this could be the case.
We do hear about Tellarite ships in Journey to Babel, and in TNG Vulcan ships.

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