Did Kirk captain any ship before Enterprise?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by RB_Kandy, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    ...However, it would not really go against real world precedent to treat the terminology as mutable. Say, HMS Dreadnought mutated into dreadnought the ship type.

    More relevantly to this specific issue, "cutter" mutated from being a type of boat in Coast Guard use (literally, a "boat") into a generic name for all types of boat and ship in Coast Guard use. The exact same thing might have happened to "starship", it starting out as a word similar to "battleship" and indicating a specific type of heavy unit (of which NX-01 was one, and by the standards of that time, so was any vessel she encountered, so we don't even have to worry about retcons!), but then becoming generic either just after TOS, during it, or even some time before it (but old habits die hard, and old brass plates don't get replaced any time soon).

    Just saying. The idea that "starship=/=spaceship" or even that "starship>spaceship" is pretty strongly in evidence in TOS and the TOS movies, all the way up to ST4. It warrants at least some sort of support - even if one subscribes (like me) to the sensible Ferengi rule that ultimately, writer intent plus an empty sack is worth the sack.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    CoveTom
    I agree. The only problem, though, is that the idea that the original Enterprise was "Starship Class" is rather directly contradicted by several later series. The one that springs to mind immediately is "Relics," wherein Picard refers to the original ship's bridge as "Constitution class" and Scotty agrees. Now, you could extend that and say it is a "Constitution class starship," but to say it is a "Constitution class Starship class ship" seems unlikely.

    While it is fact that there was a plaque on the Enterprise bridge that did, indeed, say "Starship Class" and not "Constitution class," the plaque is barely visible -- I'm not certain we can ever make out the wording in TOS -- and the lines of dialogue in later series are pretty definitive. Therefore, much like writer intentions that are later contradicted, I feel safe in ignoring the plaque in the same way we ignore "James R. Kirk."
     
  3. EliyahuQeoni

    EliyahuQeoni Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    Location:
    Redmond, Oregon, United States of America
    I don't see why the Enterprise couldn't be a Starship-Class, Constitiution-Class, and Heavy Cruiser-Class vessel. Much in the same way that the USS Grissom from TSFS is an Starship-Class, Oberth-Class and a "Scout-Class" vessel.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Right. Even canon is subject to change, since of course they're making it up as they go. Later intentions should override initial intentions. "Starship Class" is one of those awkward early ideas that were abandoned when something better came along, like lasers instead of phasers, Vulcanians instead of Vulcans, and UESPA instead of Starfleet.

    As for why Enterprise couldn't also be a "Starship Class" vessel, the answer is that that term is simply too generic. Maybe at the start, TOS's creators were treating "starship" as the equivalent of "capital ship," a term only used for the larger vessels, but the term has been used far too widely since then for far too many types of ship. Basically it's come to mean any interstellar vessel larger than a shuttle or runabout. Calling a Starfleet vessel "Starship Class" would work about as well as calling a US Navy vessel "Ship Class."
     
  5. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2001
    Location:
    alt.nerd.obsessive.pic
    Well, Roddenberry's original intent was for Spock to be a red Martian and for Troi to have three breasts...
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    This is a simple enough a rationalization.

    It even gets amusing support from the other "TOS era" dedication plaque we (fail to) see: that of Kasidy Yates' transport Xhosa. The vessel features a plaque of the same aesthetics and format, only with ANTARES CLASS in place of STARSHIP CLASS. And as we know, "Antares class" has through various mishaps become a more or less generic name for a variety of ship designs, and might thus have to be interpreted as a type description. A bit similar to "Panamax class" for a broad range of today's seagoing transports, perhaps?

    Now all we really need is a glimpse at the dedication plaque of a TOS era Saladin class ship, saying DESTROYER CLASS or perhaps STAR DESTROYER CLASS. :devil:

    But only long after it was used in the dedication plaque of NCC-1701. Back in those days, it got no competition from humbler ship types. So, terminology mutation.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Location:
    On the USS Sovereign
    Is there any chance that First Ofiicer Kirk took over command for his Captain after something/someone kill his Captain? The ship was damaged and far enough away from a support base for Kirk to command the ship for months. After that he recieved command of the Enterprise?
     
  8. EliyahuQeoni

    EliyahuQeoni Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    Location:
    Redmond, Oregon, United States of America
    This was my thought as well. Initially "Starship-Class" referred to capitol ships. Over time popular usage was to refer to any Starfleet vessel, and later and FTL craft of a certain size. As the popular usage changes, the official nomenclature changed as well.

    Its not the best rationalization, but it is a way to tie the way the term was used in much of TOS to the way it was used later in the franchise.
     
  9. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2001
    Location:
    alt.nerd.obsessive.pic
    Since we are unlikely to ever get a canon answer, I'd say go with what makes you happy. For all we know, he could've been like Sisko, commanding a starbase prior to his promotion. :shrug:
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    We do have reason to believe he had a long career as an instructor, what with the reference to "Lieutenant Kirk" teaching Mitchell, and Kirk not leaving the Academy until under the command of Garrovick Sr. on the Farragut. Aboard that ship, he did encounter a high-casualty situation he himself survived just fine - the massacre described in "Obsession". Perhaps this was a crucial step in elevating him in rank and prestige, as well as associating him with the ability to navigate a heavy cruiser through a serious crisis - leading to Starfleet giving him command of the sister ship of the Farragut directly thereafter.

    I mean, it's far from impossible that Kirk would have gotten the Enterprise straight from Pike back in 2257 already. Pike might have taken Spock with him for the rest of their quoted joint eleven years, thus explaining why Spock and Kirk aren't the closest of pals in "Where No Man" yet - Spock returned to the ship and joined Kirk's crew only shortly before the episode. And Mitchell would be with Pike as well, explaining why he and Spock are close colleagues in Dehner's opinion.

    Or then Kirk got the ship from Pike, but only after serving under him on the Enterprise for some time, again leaving no in-between ship for him to command but a direct progression up the ladder in the close-knit Constitution class community.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    No; in-universe, the term was used generically in the 22nd century according to Enterprise and in the mid-23rd according to the 2009 film; and in real life, the term was in use in science fiction as early as 1926, and was pretty common in SF titles such as "Sargasso of Lost Starships" (Poul Anderson, 1952), Starship (Brian Aldiss, 1959), Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein, 1959), The Wizard of Starship Poseidon (Kenneth Bulmer, 1963), and so on. In reality, it was a generic term for ships capable of interstellar flight long before there was a Star Trek, and it stands to reason that those works of fiction would've existed in the Trek universe's 20th century as well. So the use of "Starship Class" as some sort of unique designator was always awkward. It's well-forgotten. (Although, for what it's worth, I can't find any movie or TV titles using the word prior to the 1970s, at least on IMDb. So Trek may have popularized a term that was previously only common in prose SF.)

    It's not healthy to be too fixated on the details of a work of fiction, especially its earliest installments. Not every idea is a good one, and the creators of an ongoing series are the first to be willing to renounce and correct past mistakes. Clinging to old ideas that the creators themselves have renounced is not something that most creators would want their fans to do.
     
  12. EliyahuQeoni

    EliyahuQeoni Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    Location:
    Redmond, Oregon, United States of America
    You make some excellent points, Christopher. Given what you say above, the mental gymnastics to make it all fit together may not be worth it.
     
  13. Captaindemotion

    Captaindemotion Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 26, 2001
    Location:
    Ireland
    I have always worked on the assumption that Kirk must have commanded another ship before Enterprise (I love the 09 movie but always found the idea of a cadet being promoted to captain of the flagship of the fleet somewhat hard to swallow).

    But given how much we know about the previous command histories of other captains, I think it's an interesting little oddity of the original series (and movies) that we never got a definitive and unambiguous answer one way or the other onscreen.
     
  14. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    We also know, thanks to ENT, that by the time the NCC-1764 Defiant was built, the plaque now says "Constitution Class" and not "Starship Class." So at some point between the construction of the Enterprise and the loss of the Defiant in "The Tholian Web," the nomenclature was changed (at least for the Defiant).

    Also, the Xhosa's plaque reads "Antares Class Cruiser." Most likely then, it was built after the TOS Enterprise, since its plaque might have just read "Cruiser Class" to match with the Enterprise's 'Starship Class," instead of describing the actual class name of the ship as would be done later.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Well, '60s shows were more concerned with the here and now for the characters, unless it was convenient for the story to bring in an old friend or lost love or family member we'd never heard of before. We did learn a fair amount about his career as a cadet and junior officer, but nobody ever came up with a story focusing on his first command, just by luck of the draw.


    Or maybe it "really" said "Constitution Class" all along and the set decorators got that detail wrong. Sometimes it's best to treat what we see onscreen as an approximation of the conjectural reality rather than an exactly literal depiction of it. In Gene Roddenberry's preface to his own novelization of ST:TMP, he took on the role of a 23rd-century producer who'd dramatized the "real" experiences of Kirk and his crew, and apologized for having portrayed them in a way that was "inaccurately 'larger than life.'" No doubt there were parts of TOS that he was unhappy with and wanted to renounce, and he was suggesting that the fans should take them as inaccuracies in the depiction of the "real" missions of the Enterprise. When TMP came out and revealed a new design for the Klingons, Roddenberry asked fans to assume they'd always looked that way and the show just hadn't depicted them accurately. So he wouldn't have wanted his fans to take every detail literally, because frankly a number of the details just didn't work.
     
  16. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Doesn't the dedication plaque in Trek XI go back to saying "Starship class"?
     
  17. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    Yes.

    I have always assumed from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" where Dr. Dehner said that James Kirk had asked for Gary Mitchell on his first aboard, that Kirk had a previous command.

    For me, one of the issues with the later Trek, is that some of the production people begin bringing ideas in from fandom and that these bits of data became canon. It didn't matter if they contradicted what had come before.
     
  18. A beaker full of death

    A beaker full of death Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    The what now?
    There were no flag officers on Enterprise.
     
  19. Dukhat

    Dukhat Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2007
    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    I suppose I could ignore that the Enterprise's plaque said "Starship Class"...but...why? There's no reason why Starfleet couldn't have just made a change to the information a plaque lists.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    ^No, but as I said, "Starship Class" is just such an awkwardly generic term for it. It's like having a truck whose model name is Truck. Can something even be called a class when it's so unspecific?