Abandoned and damaged starships

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by James Wright, Oct 15, 2012.

  1. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    Additionally, even though the M-5 proved itself to be an effective battle controller in engaging the Lexington, Excalibur, Potemkin and Hood, we have to remember that Enterprise's phasers only scored a handful of hits against Wesley's task force. Given how well Kirk's Enterprise weathered more substantial attacks, I always found it hard to accept that two or three well-placed direct hits would be all it would take to both wreck a starship and kill an entire crew, particularly if Wesley's ships (presumably) had their shields up.

    Seemed that the Excalibur folded a little too easily, don't ya think?
     
  2. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    I was under the impression that all of the phaser hits scored by M5 on Wesley's task force was at full power at medium to long range against unshielded ships. Presumably it was when they regrouped to attack Enterprise was when they had their shields back up.
     
  3. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    Yep.
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    One argument in favor of many if not most of the Excalibur crew surviving is that we don't know of any mechanism by which phasers could kill the crew of a starship while leaving the ship visibly intact.

    Decompression is unlikely to work against a compartmentalized starship. Phasers aren't credited with radiation effects that could "poison" the crew to death. And settings comparable to wide field stun have never been shown to be lethal, least of all against targets inside a building or a vehicle.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    ... and that particularly dramatic moment in the episode, when Kirk yells Daystrom's name and then phasers fire, would be the "kill shot" on the Excalibur [http://www.chakoteya.net/StarTrek/53.htm]:

     
  6. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    If the ship's phasers can be set to wide area stun as in A Piece of the Action, why not wide area kill?
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But as said, wide area stun failed to stun anybody who wasn't exposed to the open sky from which the stun rays fell.

    Indeed, we lack evidence that phaser fire of any sort could go through walls of any sort, except of course by blowing a hole in them. This 100% lack of evidence should count for something, even though it of course isn't the same thing as some character declaring that phasers can't go through walls.

    FWIW, only DS9 "Field of Fire" ever includes dialogue about walls generally being an obstacle to weapons fire, and it being a big surprise when they are not - but even there, the heroes know from the get-go that they are dealing with a chemically propelled slugthrower rather than any other sort of weapon, so through-the-walls weapons might still theoretically exist.

    It's just that there is no positive evidence for them...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    I think in this case that how one interprets what one sees hinges on whether one believes that the M5 really killed everyone aboard the Excalibur.

    If you believe that, then you have to believe that there is some way to fire ship phasers against a damaged and unshielded starship to accomplish that. If not wide area kill, then maybe it hit a reactor which sent a lethal pulse of radiation when it blew, but which didn't destroy the ship.

    On the other hand, if you don't believe that it killed everyone, then of course, you don't have to believe that phasers could accomplish that.

    As I've already said, I see no reason to doubt that the M5 killed everyone aboard the Excalibur. Kirk said so, and the M5 believed it. If Kirk knew it was not so, then I don't see why he would have posited it to the M5 in the first place, since he was trying to out-think it. Positing information you know or suspect to be false is not a very good way to try to out-think a computer that can think faster than any human being.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...Then again, blatantly lying to a computer is a Kirk trademark. And Kirk already was aware of the human qualities of the M5, and might have been in a process of frightening or angering the machine.

    The outcome where M5 says "No, double dumbass, there are survivors!" would not be bad, either, because Kirk could then press on with that and have M5 agree to leaving survivors on other ships as well whilst securing victory. From there on, it would be a short hop to having M5 agree to securing victory through negotiations, without any casualties.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    Not buying it. I guess we're going to have to disagree.
     
  11. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Depends on "visibly intact" but we we do have two examples.

    "The Wrath of Khan". Phasers at low power and close-range left scorch marks (at the weakest) and shallow cuts which would be difficult to make out at the size Excalibur was displayed at in the original FX. In TWOK, these shallow/light phaser hits with shields down resulted in alot of internal damage with casualties. It is very possible that full phasers at medium to long range can cause massive internal damage without significant visible damage. Full phasers at close range would result in instant destruction, as seen in "Day of the Dove".

    And IIRC, in "Basics" the backup phasers were overloaded and discharged inside Voyager, stunning the Kazon crew in one go from the inside of the ship and through the bulkheads.

    As to whether there could be some survivors on the Excalibur, it would depend on how much time Wesley's surviving ships had to beam off the survivors before they retreated out of Enterprise's phaser range. It doesn't seem like any shuttles were launched or people left via some sort of escape capsules as that would have likely been mentioned. And as pointed out, M5 is smart enough to detect the level of destruction it has wreaked.

    Regarding difficulty scanning for life forms in TOS:
    "The Doomsday Machine" - we are told of heavy subspace interference.
    "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" - it is possible that the Fabrini outer shell prevented accurate detection of life or Fabrini don't register as normal life signs.

    However, scanning another ship like the Constitution shouldn't be too hard and there were no external sources of interference. M5 should've gotten an easy look at Excalibur, IMHO.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...But the casualties were apparently limited to the spaces directly affected by the shallow cuts. To reproduce these effects in large enough scale to kill the total crew of a Constitution class vessel, M5 would need to hit basically every square meter of the surface, and even that would only get the people in the outer parts of the ship.

    I had forgotten all about the nuances of that trick. But it would seem to be an internal power surge type of affair, rather than something directly relating to the properties of phasers. That is, it could have been the backup shield generator power couplings that were sabotaged, too. Or the backup holodeck power couplings. The result would have been the same. And it still wasn't lethal for all the Kazon...

    Incidentally, how did Kirk know to ask M5 to scan whether there was life aboard the hurt ship? He had not had the chance to do any scans himself, and the radio chatter had not revealed particularly extensive casualties. If M5 truthfully answered "25 people dead, 402 alive", Kirk's accusations of murder would sound hollow, as his question was about absolutes.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. TheRoyalFamily

    TheRoyalFamily Commodore Commodore

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    Why did all the people on board have to die for Kirk to be right? As long as even one were killed, M5 still murdered them, and thus (according to its own logic) would have to die as well.
     
  14. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    I completely agree with this.

    But my position, which I realize that some disagree with, is that these lines imply that all hands on the Excalibur were killed by M5:

    I believe that if the M5 hadn't killed all hands, then it would have been obliged to contradict Kirk's assertion, which was that the reason there was no life aboard Excalibur was because it was murdered by M5.

    If survivors had beamed to another starship, or escaped in a lifeboat or shuttlecraft, then M5 would have had to have said something like:

    M5: Incorrect. This unit did not murder all life aboard starship Excalibur. Some life is absent for other reasons. One hundred seventeen personnel were beamed aboard starship Hood. Forty seven other personnel evacuated on shuttlecraft which are now boarding flagship Lexington.

    Naturally, at that point, Kirk would continue with his point that some were murdered, and the M5 would have probably shut itself down anyway. But the M5 offered no such contradiction.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The issue here is two-sided. The M5 side of the argument is covered above. The other side is that Kirk painted himself in a corner of sorts by asking M5 whether there is "life" aboard the ship. If M5 says "yes", then this does not conveniently lead to the conclusion that M5 has committed murder. Sure, it has decreased the number of lifesigns, but the answer of "yes" does not make it feel pangs of guilt like an answer of "no" would.

    Why does Kirk ask in terms of absolutes? He has no way of knowing whether there are survivors aboard the ship, apart from his professional expertise. Perhaps he knows that the types of hits M5 scored are lethal to the entire crew, even though nowhere else in Star Trek do we witness phasers having such an effect on an unshielded ship?

    So there are two reasons to think all lives were lost - the wording chosen by Kirk, and the failure of M5 to talk back. But there are two reasons to think the opposite - the failure of Wesley to indicate anything of the sort, and the lack of mechanisms by which M5 could have achieved the result.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Those two things combined are likely how Kirk knew that the entire crew of the Excalibur had been killed. Kirk would know exactly what the Enterprise's weapons were capable of.

    :)
     
  17. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Well, based on the one visual where we see a phaser hit on the Excalibur (prior to it going "dead") the blue blast (original FX) takes up almost all of the facing surface area. It appears that at medium to long range the beam spreads a bit. Since it was a full powered shot and not a low powered shot, we could also argue that the phaser beam penetrated straight through the ship, causing massive internal damage and/or killing most of the crew.

    Regardless of it being lethal, it was that it managed to propagate through the entire ship. Granted, it's probably different phaser technologies at work though.

    My guess is that because Kirk knew the Excalibur suffered a direct hit and saw the 2nd direct phaser hit with the large flash area he guessed that if the Excalibur looked dead from Sulu's report that everyone was either dead or dying. As a former weapons officer, he'd probably be extra familiar with phaser capabilities...
     
  18. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Well what other times have we seen a ship fire full phasers at medium to long range into another equivalent ship with shields down?
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...But not by the Wrath of Khan mechanism, because that one involved actual physical cuts in the hull. If the entire Excalibur were covered in such cuts, she'd be torn apart.

    Is it "phaser technologies" at all, when a power coupling sends the burst? We could say that M5 hurt a comparable power coupling that then sent a deadly burst from within the Excalibur, but that's not something Kirk could discern from looking at M5 firing.

    Gotta nitpick this one: him crewing a "phaser station" in "Obsession" was related to firing at the vampire cloud, which would probably involve hand phasers rather than ship phasers. He might be a weapons officer, or he might be a security goon overseeing a major planetside operation from a hilltop fire base. But the point about Kirk knowing his way around phasers stands.

    "The Wounded"? We didn't get the impression that there were any casualties aboard the Phoenix.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    TWOK however is different in that they were low-powered phasers at point-blank range.

    We've seen full phasers at transporter range (which would be 30,000km or under) at an unshield Klingon Battlecruiser and 2 double hits resulted in its destruction.

    So full phasers beyond transporter range, say in the medium to long range at an unshielded Excalibur with 2 double hits could result in external scarring damage that we can't make out due to distance (although in later scene we see the ship's structure bent up since it was a re-use of the Constellation). So we do know that the ship's structure did suffer damage.

    PARIS: I need you to get the computer to block the discharge from the backup phaser power couplings.

    It was the backup phaser energy that overloaded into the ship :)

    Although I was arguing that Kirk probably knew that those types of phaser hits on the Excalibur would've been lethal.

    McCoy's dialogue puts Kirk at a phaser station and mentions Kirk's ship. The attack killed 200 crewman. So, it is possible that somehow half the crew was on the planet below vacationing when attacked, it doesn't quite make sense since Kirk was already manning the phaser station thus the ship was on some kind of alert.
    MCCOY: Am I? I was speaking of Lieutenant James T. Kirk of the starship Farragut. Eleven years ago, you were the young officer at the phaser station when something attacked. According to the tapes, this young Lieutenant Kirk insisted upon blaming himself.
    KIRK: Because I delayed in firing at it.
    MCCOY: You had a normal emotion. You were startled. You delayed firing for a grand total of perhaps two seconds.
    KIRK: If I hadn't delayed, it would have been killed.
    MCCOY: The ship's exec didn't seem to think so. His log entry was quite clear on the subject. Lieutenant Kirk is a fine young officer who performed with uncommon bravery.
    KIRK: Don't you understand? It killed two hundred crewmen.
    Kirk's expertise with phasers, shipwide and personal, still stands. He would know what kind of effect Enterprise's phasers would have on the unshielded Excalibur.

    I did say "another equivalent ship" :)

    Remember that in the beginning of same episode, a Cardassian warship opened fire at close range against an unshielded E-D and only did minor damage.

    WORF: Minor damage to secondary hull before we put our shields up, sir. No casualties. Structural integrity intact.

    The Cardassians don't really become an equivalent threat until they team up with the Dominion...