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View Poll Results: Defiant aside, did Starfleet build warships?
Definitely yes. 46 56.10%
Probably yes. 25 30.49%
Probably not. 9 10.98%
Definitely not. 2 2.44%
Voters: 82. You may not vote on this poll

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Old March 1 2009, 12:19 AM   #1
Praetor
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Did Starfleet build warships?

I thought at first I should post this in Tech but I was hoping to get a larger cross-section of TrekBBSers' opinions by posting here.

Now I'm not talking Defiant here, or in regard to the Dominion War even, or even the big question of whether Starfleet is a definitively a military organization or not. I'm talking about previous eras, all the way back to the founding of Starfleet in Archer's era.

Ostensibly, Starfleet's mission 'has always been one of peace' but nonetheless Starfleet has exhibited some very militaristic tendencies from time to time.

Various publications have suggested that they did. Various games ('Star Trek: Legacy' for example) have suggested that they did. I'm talking about the multi-nacelle battleships, the Franz Joseph designs - the three-nacelled dreadnoughts, the single-nacelled destroyers. Some of these have even suggested that certain canon ships we've seen have had dual roles as battleships and exploratory vessels. However, the majority of how Starfleet has been depicted, and their lack of screen time, would seem to disagree.

I'm not suggesting that you accept or reject particular designs based on the merit of the design, but more simply, the idea that Starfleet builds warships. Is there room in the fleet for these ships alongside Kirk's Enterprise? Yes or no, and please specify your reasons why?

I should clarify that I mean ships whose primary mission is one of offense and defense, not exploration.
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Last edited by Praetor; March 1 2009 at 02:55 AM. Reason: Clarification
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Old March 1 2009, 12:41 AM   #2
black_dranzer
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

Personally, I've always thought that Starfleet built explorers with teeth - i.e, their primary mission was to explore, but they were also heavily armed enough to be a match for comparably-sized vessels (with the exception of dedicated science vessels like the Oberth-class). I don't think Starfleet would officially classify any of their ships as warships - even the Defiant is officially classed as an "escort" because, as Kira says in 'The Search' - Starfleet doesn't believe in warships. It's possible the Dominion war, and the recomissioning of the Defiant class into production has changed things, however I can see Starfleet wanting to get back to their exploratory roots following the Dominion war - such as in the Titan novels etc
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Old March 1 2009, 01:03 AM   #3
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

I agree that the majority of Starfleet's ships are dual-purpose vessels.

However, if they have dedicated science vessels, why not dedicated warships?

But (slightly ignoring my own premise of ignoring the Defiant for a moment) would you even classify the Defiant as a real warship then, albeit one disguised by a clever euphemism, or just as an 'escort'?
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Old March 1 2009, 01:42 AM   #4
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

We know Starfleet built dreadnoughts. We hear the comm chatter in TMP where they mentioned one ('...this is dreadnought Entente calling...).
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Old March 1 2009, 02:27 AM   #5
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

Praetor wrote: View Post
I thought at first I should post this in Tech but I was hoping to get a larger cross-section of TrekBBSers' opinions by posting here.

Now I'm not talking Defiant here, or in regard to the Dominion War even, or even the big question of whether Starfleet is a definitively a military organization or not. I'm talking about previous eras, all the way back to the founding of Starfleet in Archer's era.

Ostensibly, Starfleet's mission 'has always been one of peace' but nonetheless Starfleet has exhibited some very militaristic tendencies from time to time.

Various publications have suggested that they did. Various games ('Star Trek: Legacy' for example) have suggested that they did. I'm talking about the multi-nacelle battleships, the Franz Joseph designs - the three-nacelled dreadnoughts, the single-nacelled destroyers. Some of these have even suggested that certain canon ships we've seen have had dual roles as battleships and exploratory vessels. However, the majority of how Starfleet has been depicted, and their lack of screen time, would seem to disagree.

I'm not suggesting that you accept or reject particular designs based on the merit of the design, but more simply, the idea that Starfleet builds warships. Is there room in the fleet for these ships alongside Kirk's Enterprise? Yes or no, and please specify your reasons why?
There is a difference between the 23rd and 24th centuries. Starfleet is a military organization in the 23rd century:

The Enterprise attempts to hunt down and destroy an enemy starship that attacked Cestus III in Arena.
The Enterprise hunts down and destroys an enemy starship 'fighting to prevent a fight' in Balance of Terror.
Kirk mentions UESPA as a combined service in Tomorrow is Yesterday.
Kirk states that he is a soldier in Errand of Mercy.
We see full blown wargames in The Ultimate Computer.
Matt Decker states that Starfleets primary goal is to 'protect the lives of Federation citizens' in The Doomsday Machine.
We see a starship with the capability to wipe out the entire surface of a planet in A Taste of Armageddon, you don't build ships like that on accident.
The Enterprise is suppose to be part of a three starship task force as a show of support for the new President of Altair III in Amok Time.

You can go on and on...

It isn't until Modern Trek where we see these issues of whether Starfleet is a military organization or not.
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Old March 1 2009, 02:42 AM   #6
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

Well, rumor has it the USA had a "Black Fleet" with an Aircraft carrier and Japanese Zeros during (and before) WW2 which it used on the "enemies of its enemies" to pursuade them of the merits of siding with the USA.

Conceivably you mean Starfleet had something along those lines beyond their "Vessels of science and exploration..."?

I know the manual covering the Kirk era ST had a group of vessels with a third Warp naecelle and big guns that made it "more powerful and faster" than the Enterprise.
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Old March 1 2009, 02:48 AM   #7
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

BillJ wrote: View Post
There is a difference between the 23rd and 24th centuries. Starfleet is a military organization in the 23rd century:

The Enterprise attempts to hunt down and destroy an enemy starship that attacked Cestus III in Arena.
The Enterprise hunts down and destroys an enemy starship 'fighting to prevent a fight' in Balance of Terror.
Kirk mentions UESPA as a combined service in Tomorrow is Yesterday.
Kirk states that he is a soldier in Errand of Mercy.
We see full blown wargames in The Ultimate Computer.
Matt Decker states that Starfleets primary goal is to 'protect the lives of Federation citizens' in The Doomsday Machine.
We see a starship with the capability to wipe out the entire surface of a planet in A Taste of Armageddon, you don't build ships like that on accident.
The Enterprise is suppose to be part of a three starship task force as a show of support for the new President of Altair III in Amok Time.

You can go on and on...

It isn't until Modern Trek where we see these issues of whether Starfleet is a military organization or not.
But, it's the same organization regardless.

Without a doubt, it underwent many changes from one century to the next, but it's a bit of a stretch to say that one is a military and one is not.

You might argue that the Starfleet referred to in TOS is the Earth Starfleet of ENT and not the Federation Starfleet referred to in the films and TNG onward, but the Starfleet of ENT is even less militarily-oriented than the TNG-era Starfleet.

Taken as a whole, you can say that the 23rd century Starfleet was more militaristic (hence my OP question) and that 24th century Starfleet was considerably less militaristic, but the TOS Enterprise's mission was after all 'to boldy go where no man has gone before.'

And can you really argue that the 'policing missions' the TOS ship went on are really that much different than some of those embarked upon by the Enteprise-D, and presumably all those Excelsior class starships we saw? The Enterprise-D engages in war games in 'Peak Performance' herself.

yellowdingo wrote: View Post
Well, rumor has it the USA had a "Black Fleet" with an Aircraft carrier and Japanese Zeros during (and before) WW2 which it used on the "enemies of its enemies" to pursuade them of the merits of siding with the USA.

Conceivably you mean Starfleet had something along those lines beyond their "Vessels of science and exploration..."?

I know the manual covering the Kirk era ST had a group of vessels with a third Warp naecelle and big guns that made it "more powerful and faster" than the Enterprise.
Indeed. I should clarify that I mean ships whose primary mission is one of offense and defense, not exploration.

And it is indeed the three-nacelled dreadnought to which I partially refer:

As well as this:

And to a lesser extent (since ostensibly a vessel differing only in weapons was a 'scout' it could have existed anyway with only a change in nomenclature) this:
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Old March 1 2009, 02:55 AM   #8
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

I'd bet that if you all went and looked at TNG episodes you'd find several of the situations mentioned by BillJ of TOS epusodes, granted you won't find every situation.
I always thought Starfleet existed to protect Federation member planets, to explore?
The ships built and being built by starfleet will do!

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Old March 1 2009, 03:20 AM   #9
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

It's a big ol' dangerous galaxy out there. I don't know that I can quote canon at you, my Romulan friend, but...how could Starfleet reasonably hope that it wouldn't need dedicated warships? I can't remember an era in which there weren't at least one or two powers who, if they weren't active enemies were definitely not friendly, and during most of the adventures we've been able to witness, there have been actual enemies. Powerful enemies.

Besides, isn't the D a warship once the saucer section's gone? That's what I'd call it.
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Old March 1 2009, 03:23 AM   #10
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

JustKate wrote: View Post
It's a big ol' dangerous galaxy out there. I don't know that I can quote canon at you, my Romulan friend, but...how could Starfleet reasonably hope that it wouldn't need dedicated warships? I can't remember an era in which there weren't at least one or two powers who, if they weren't active enemies were definitely not friendly, and during most of the adventures we've been able to witness, there have been actual enemies. Powerful enemies.
My thinking too. If everyone else has them, why shouldn't Starfleet at least have a few of them laying around, even if they spend most of their time in dock?

Besides, isn't the D a warship once the saucer section's gone? That's what I'd call it.
They don't call it the 'battle section' for nothing!

Perhaps routine starship separation as seen on the Galaxy was a nice way of circumventing having battleships sitting by the dock waiting for deployment?
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Old March 1 2009, 03:34 AM   #11
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

^ There's even a battle bridge, all dark and dramatic looking. Nothin' family-friendly about that.
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Old March 1 2009, 03:36 AM   #12
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

However, if they have dedicated science vessels, why not dedicated warships?
Presumably there are always scientific, exploratory, and support missions to be undertaken, there may not always be wars to fight. There's enough overlap in the basic design requirements for the two (such as torpedo launchers for probes) that even a vessel designed principally for combat could fulfill other roles.

If Starfleet does have dedicated warships I suspect they're smaller vessels for patrol/escort duty, less powerful in a combat role than the larger starships but more efficient. Half the strength, one quarter the tonnage/cost and such.

Besides, isn't the D a warship once the saucer section's gone? That's what I'd call it.
Fugly is what I'd call it.
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Old March 1 2009, 03:45 AM   #13
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

^ Well, yeah, but the New Jersey's not exactly the ideal prom date, either.
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Old March 1 2009, 03:49 AM   #14
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

Rii wrote: View Post
However, if they have dedicated science vessels, why not dedicated warships?
Presumably there are always scientific, exploratory, and support missions to be undertaken, there may not always be wars to fight. There's enough overlap in the basic design requirements for the two (such as torpedo launchers for probes) that even a vessel designed principally for combat could fulfill other roles.

If Starfleet does have dedicated warships I suspect they're smaller vessels for patrol/escort duty, less powerful in a combat role than the larger starships but more efficient. Half the strength, one quarter the tonnage/cost and such.
But, and perhaps this is a bad comparison in general, consider the fleet maintained by the United States Navy. Its ships and fleet makeup are substantially bigger than is really necessary to perform the duties it is required to perform outside of war.

True, much of it was a holdover from the Cold War, but one might argue that Starfleet had a nearly perpetual Cold War in the 23rd century with the Klingons, and then Romulans.
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Old March 1 2009, 04:12 AM   #15
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Re: Did Starfleet build warships?

JustKate wrote: View Post
^ Well, yeah, but the New Jersey's not exactly the ideal prom date, either.
I think she looks alright for her age.

But, and perhaps this is a bad comparison in general, consider the fleet maintained by the United States Navy. Its ships and fleet makeup is substantially bigger than is really necessary to perform the duties it is required to perform outside of war.
Definitely, and in addition to the deterrence value an established naval force provides, the long lead-time required to build vessels (and train crews for them) precludes waiting until a war is imminent to start building ships. One can assume that these factors remain true in Starfleet's time.

Fundamentally I think it comes down to a difference in the character of the organisations. Whilst Starfleet would certainly be looking to maintain significant military capabilities in the absence of conflict, in light of their dual scientific/military role I don't believe they'd maintain significant numbers of dedicated warships in peacetime unless there were strong arguments (incompatible design requirements, economic concerns) for separating the two roles. In times of war I'm sure that Starfleet would construct dedicated warships, or at least leave those dedicated scientific capabilities out of vessels constructed according to existing designs.

I like to think of the larger starships of the day (such as the Galaxy class) as embodying all of the roles that Starfleet is called upon to perform. They're designed to represent the Federation and all that it stands for and maintain significant military, diplomatic, scientific, and support (medical, transport, etc.) capabilities in service of that mission at the acceptable cost of efficiency in any given role. Such vessels wouldn't form the backbone of the fleet, smaller vessels would be more numerous and feature a greater degree of specialisation.
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