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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > Star Trek - Original Series

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

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Old May 10 2009, 12:10 AM   #1
Praetor
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Location: The fine line between continuity and fanwank.
"We're a combined service."

As many will remember, in 'Tomorrow is Yesterday,' the Enterprise found herself in orbit of 1960s Earth and ended up taking aboard an American pilot named Captain John Christopher who had been sent to determine what the Enterprise was.

When Captain Kirk gave Christopher a brief tour of the ship, Captain Christopher began to ask "Did the Navy--?" to which Kirk quickly clarified "We're a combined service" and then proceeded to explain about U.E.S.P.A.

Now, personally, for years I took this to mean that Kirk was referring to the idea of the consolidation of various military and exploratory powers of a Earth into Starfleet - a sort of do-everything space military. However, last night I was skimming through 'The Making of Star Trek' and noticed a memo in which D. C. Fontana suggested pinning down the names of the other ships of the Starship class.

From p 163-164, note my underlined/bolded text:
TO: Gene Roddenberry
FROM: D. C. Fontana
DATE: August 8, 1967
SUBJECT: Star Fleet - 12 Starships

Dear Gene,

We have in the course of a season and a half, established that Star Fleet includes 12 ships of the starship class. We are frequently called upon to name one or the other of them, and no one has kept track of who's where. The following is a list of suggested names and some international alternates we may wish to establish as starships of the Fleet. Would like you and Bob J. to incdicate preference for the names, put it in the STAR TREK Guide and use it... if this seems feasible.

Enterprise
Exeter
Essex
Excalibur
Lexington
Yorktown
Endeavor
El Dorado
Excelsior
Saratoga
Constellation
(destroyed in "Doomsday Machine." Presume she would be replaced by Star Fleet.)

Alternates include the names of some famous fighting ships of the past, plus a couple of international variations we might consider, Star Fleet being composed of a united service.

Hornet
Wasp
Farragut (mentioned as destroyed in "Obsession")
Hood
Bonhomme Richard
Monitor or Merrimac, depending upon your loyalties
Tori (bird)
Lafayette
Ari (lion)
Krieger (warrior)

Please consider.

D. C. Fontana
...Which makes it sound (to me at least) like the intent of Kirk's original line was not to clarify that U.E.S.P.A (and later Star Fleet) wasn't just a navy, but might have rather meant to clarify specifically that it wasn't the United States Navy that built the Enterprise, despite Jimmy Kirk being a corn-fed Iowa boy.

(Of course, the memo itself is pretty awesome, as is Bob Justman's reply.)

What say you? What have you always thought he meant? What do you think now?
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Old May 10 2009, 02:55 AM   #2
Basil
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Re: "We're a combined service."

Took it to mean combined navy, army, marines, etc., which explained why we never saw such branches until the films, even though Starfleet seemed heavily modelled on a naval service.

DC Fontana may have been trying to point out that they could go beyond U.S. and British-dominated names for ships, even beyond western powers, which makes sense since three quarters of the world population is not European or American, and more than 60 percent of humans today hail from Asia.
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Old May 10 2009, 03:04 AM   #3
Wingsley
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Re: "We're a combined service."

Interesting how the Defiant was never mentioned in her list. Was it listed in "Court Martial", either?

I took the combination of Kirk's and Christopher's remarks to mean a couple of things:

1: Starfleet, the exploratory, official scientific investigatory and quasi-military arm of the Federation organization, is a combination of services. It's a space armada, it's also a colonization service (Cestus III as an unfortunate example), and Starfleet may be many other things as well. In "The Ultimate Computer", McCoy said of Daystrom's M-5, "the government bought it". I took that to mean that the Federation charged Starfleet with giving Daystrom whatever he needed to build and test a working prototype in the war games. I'm fond of thinking that Federation starbases, along with Federation deep space stations, and maybe many Federation-sponsored colonies, are also Starfleet operations of a sort. There's nothing etched in stone that the Lieutenant rescued from Cestus III was necessarily part of the same arm of Starfleet as Kirk (the naval arm); I like the notion of StarFIREs (Starfleet Itinerant Regiments and Expeditions), think of them as a cross between the Marines and the Seabees. So when Christopher asks if the Navy did something, Kirk has to correct him because Starfleet is much more than a naval organization.

2: U.E.S.P.A. is a member-organization of the Federation Starfleet. Each Federation Council member-world is probably expected to prove itself in order to join and stay in "the club". They must prove their worthiness and ability to contribute to the Federation organization by building functional Federation starships and other facilities to Federation spec, and also be providing Starfleet academy graduates who will be competent to man these vessels and facilities. So U.E.S.P.A., Vulcan Space Central, the Andorian Imperial Guard, etc. are all responsible for building ships and facilities (and probably contributing to a technological R&D and manufacturing pool as well) as member-organizations of the combined service of Starfleet. This may or may not preclude each of them from also maintaining their own non-Starfleet ships and facilities on behalf of the worlds they represent.

I also like the notion of "twelve like it in the fleet" suggesting that there are 12 U.E.S.P.A.-sponsored Class I starships-of-the-line in Starfleet. (Whether this means 12 Constitution-class starships from Earth/Solar System, or just 12 Class I starships of various ship-classes from Earth in the larger Federation organization is unclear to me.)
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Old May 11 2009, 04:07 PM   #4
Tomalak
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Re: "We're a combined service."

Wingsley wrote: View Post
Interesting how the Defiant was never mentioned in her list. Was it listed in "Court Martial", either?
Not that strange, since the memo is from the second season. What is slightly interesting is that there has not, as far as I can tell, ever been a US navy ship called USS Defiant, nor a Royal Navy H.M.S. Defiant (though Defiance is a common name). Anyone know where the name came from?
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Old May 11 2009, 04:27 PM   #5
Timo
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Re: "We're a combined service."

Well, it is an attractive name for a warship, one that a writer might end up with while having no reference material at his or her fingertips... It's also more in line with [i]Intrepid, while Defiance would better go with Intrepidation.

[i]Also, it makes things easier for us starship fans who want to believe in certain noncanon sources in addition to the canon ones. Now, the Defiant and the Defiance can be two different ships, with different registries.

I'm with Wingsley on many things, but I consider it my sacred duty to fight against the idea that UESPA could be Earth's military contribution to the general Starfleet. Earth's civilian research contribution, by all means. But the "SPA" part just doesn't sound like a name that a local militia would ever adopt, willingly or at gunpoint!

Timo Saloniemi
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Old May 11 2009, 04:32 PM   #6
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Re: "We're a combined service."

I've always thought UESPA makes more sense as a NASA equivalent that draws from other 'real military' agencies. Even the acronym screams NASA.
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Old May 11 2009, 04:54 PM   #7
Noname Given
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Re: "We're a combined service."

Wingsley wrote: View Post
Interesting how the Defiant was never mentioned in her list. Was it listed in "Court Martial", either?
The other ship missing from that list is the U.S.S. Republic; the ship that Lt. Cmdr. Jack Finney and Captain James T. Kirk servered on (which was mentioned by name in the testimony scenes0; that started the whole situation in Court Martial.

As to the comment in Tomorrow Is Yesterday; I always to it to mean that Starfleet was a 'combined service' in that it did a little of everything. The united comment in the memo I think more refers to the fact that they have stated Earth is now under one unified/united government; hence why she was suggesting they use some more 'international' names for starships instead of naming them all after famous British and U.S. ships.
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Old May 11 2009, 05:32 PM   #8
Praetor
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Re: "We're a combined service."

Noname Given wrote: View Post
Wingsley wrote: View Post
Interesting how the Defiant was never mentioned in her list. Was it listed in "Court Martial", either?
The other ship missing from that list is the U.S.S. Republic; the ship that Lt. Cmdr. Jack Finney and Captain James T. Kirk served on (which was mentioned by name in the testimony scenes; that started the whole situation in Court Martial.
Ben Finney, but point taken. And really, all this might mean is that the Republic wasn't one of the 12 ships of the same class as the Enterprise.

In case anyone cares, the names Bob Justman preferred were:

Enterprise
Essex
Excalibur
Lexington
Yorktown
Endeavor
Eagle
Constellation
Hornet
Wasp
Lafayette

Bob added:
I think there would be several other candidates, such as Saratoga and perhaps another English carrier, a French carrier, a Russian carrier, and certainly a Japanese carrier. In addition, I think a name ought to be made up that would be of Vulcan origin.
'TMoST' then states:
The following names have been established for starships: Enterprise, Exeter, Excalibur, Lexington, Yorktown, Potemkin, Republic, Hood, Constitution, Kongo, Constellation, Farragut, Valiant, and Intrepid. The latter four were listed as destroyed in various episodes.
So no Defiant, yet, and author Stephen Whitfield was either told or presumed that the destroyed Valiant from 'A Taste of Armageddon' was the same as the ship on this list, and that the Farragut mentioned in 'Obsession' was also destroyed. If either of these are taken as true, the Defiant might have been a replacement for one of them, as D. C. Fontana seemed certain that any ship lost would be replaced.

Noname Given wrote: View Post
As to the comment in Tomorrow Is Yesterday; I always to it to mean that Starfleet was a 'combined service' in that it did a little of everything. The united comment in the memo I think more refers to the fact that they have stated Earth is now under one unified/united government; hence why she was suggesting they use some more 'international' names for starships instead of naming them all after famous British and U.S. ships.
I can't help but feel that the original intention was a reference to United Earth, but I'm just not sure that they intended it to mean a combined overall space service...
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Old May 11 2009, 05:57 PM   #9
Noname Given
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Re: "We're a combined service."

Praetor wrote: View Post
Noname Given wrote: View Post
Wingsley wrote: View Post
Interesting how the Defiant was never mentioned in her list. Was it listed in "Court Martial", either?
The other ship missing from that list is the U.S.S. Republic; the ship that Lt. Cmdr. Jack Finney and Captain James T. Kirk served on (which was mentioned by name in the testimony scenes; that started the whole situation in Court Martial.
Ben Finney, but point taken. And really, all this might mean is that the Republic wasn't one of the 12 ships of the same class as the Enterprise.
Doh! (re: Ben Finney; guess I not as uber a Star Trek geek as I thought ); still I remember Shatner's testimony scene diagogue; and for the court, he states, "United Starship Republic..."; and for Star Trek in those days; 'United Starship" = Starship Class vessel.

Thus, it's pretty clear the U.S.S. Republic was a 'Starship Class' ship.
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Old May 11 2009, 06:29 PM   #10
Praetor
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Re: "We're a combined service."

Noname Given wrote: View Post
Praetor wrote: View Post
Noname Given wrote: View Post

The other ship missing from that list is the U.S.S. Republic; the ship that Lt. Cmdr. Jack Finney and Captain James T. Kirk served on (which was mentioned by name in the testimony scenes; that started the whole situation in Court Martial.
Ben Finney, but point taken. And really, all this might mean is that the Republic wasn't one of the 12 ships of the same class as the Enterprise.
Doh! (re: Ben Finney; guess I not as uber a Star Trek geek as I thought ); still I remember Shatner's testimony scene diagogue; and for the court, he states, "United Starship Republic..."; and for Star Trek in those days; 'United Starship" = Starship Class vessel.

Thus, it's pretty clear the U.S.S. Republic was a 'Starship Class' ship.
An interesting perspective - and one that my post-TOS brain couldn't quite fathom at first.

Indeed, no other ship was ever referred to as a U.S.S. beyond the other sisters of the Starship Class, were they? And it does certainly appear that the TOS production realized this, themselves, as Republic was added to the final (Defiant-less) list.
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Old May 11 2009, 06:35 PM   #11
Noname Given
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Re: "We're a combined service."

Praetor wrote: View Post
Noname Given wrote: View Post
Praetor wrote: View Post

Ben Finney, but point taken. And really, all this might mean is that the Republic wasn't one of the 12 ships of the same class as the Enterprise.
Doh! (re: Ben Finney; guess I not as uber a Star Trek geek as I thought ); still I remember Shatner's testimony scene diagogue; and for the court, he states, "United Starship Republic..."; and for Star Trek in those days; 'United Starship" = Starship Class vessel.

Thus, it's pretty clear the U.S.S. Republic was a 'Starship Class' ship.
An interesting perspective - and one that my post-TOS brain couldn't quite fathom at first.

Indeed, no other ship was ever referred to as a U.S.S. beyond the other sisters of the Starship Class, were they? And it does certainly appear that the TOS production realized this, themselves, as Republic was added to the final (Defiant-less) list.
Well, to my recollection (From episodes like Charlie-X and Bread and Circuses; other 'non-Starship Class' vessels were refered to as S.S. <Shipname> - (eg 'S.S. Antares' or S.S. Beagle').
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Old May 11 2009, 07:35 PM   #12
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Re: "We're a combined service."

Funnily enough, I just watched 'Charlie X'. The Antares is referred to by Kirk as "science probe vessel", the loss of which is reported to UESPA. UESPA could be the scientific body, and Starfleet the military. The Starships perform missions for both (the combined services?), and so the Enterprise is operating under their auspices during the mission in 'Tomorrow is Yesterday'.

Presumably at some point later, UESPA is merged into the wider Federation Starfleet.
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