Flagship

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Spot261, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. Spot261

    Spot261 Captain Captain

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    Ok, I know that "the enterprise is the flagship of the federation" is accepted as canon by most Trekkies, but I'm not sure exactly what this is based on.

    Where exactly in the franchise is it established? I can think of several instances of her ACTING as flagship of fleets or battle groups, along with numerous references to her being considered the most powerful/advanced in her various incarnations, but nothing that states definitively that she holds some special well defined and permanent position within the fleet.


    This question for me is compounded by my understanding of a flagship as being commanded by a flag officer, which captain is not. The only permanent (matt decker being a temporary state of affairs) commander of the enterprise with flag rank was kirk as admiral in the early movies.
     
  2. JariM

    JariM Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    That is true with navies of today and the past.

    However the word "flagship" also has other uses. Often it is a term used to refer to the most prominent, important or leading member of a group.
     
  3. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...And the only time any of the Enterprises is considered a flagship, it is in one of these alternate senses.

    The E-D is "Flagship of the Federation" in a couple of episodes and the movie ST:Generations. That's obviously not a military concept at all, because of the "Federation" rather than "Starfleet" bit there. Rather, the E-D apparently is the showpiece vessel of the Federation, being sent to impress the natives in various diplomatic contexts and whenever a bully needs bullying back; we see this happen often in TNG.

    In contrast, Kirk's Enterprises never were called the flagship of anything. Neither were the E-B, the E-C or the E-E, or Archer's pre-Federation starship Enterprise. These vessels might have flown the flag of some admiral or another on occasion, or been used as kingpin vessels in starship formations, or paraded around in the "Flagship of the UFP" sense, and indeed many of them were, explicitly and on screen. However, dialogue never associated them with the flagship concept.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. CoveTom

    CoveTom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As far as I know, the flagship thing only applied to the Enterprise-D of TNG. Certainly, I think that's the only one we ever heard mentioned that way. Off the top of my head, I know Picard referred to it that way in Generations when, speaking of Lursa and B'Etor, he said: "They're just trying to decide whether a twenty year-old Klingon Bird of Prey can be a match for the Federation flagship."

    Obviously, the term "flagship" is not being used in the traditional sense, since it's not commanded by a flag officer and isn't leading a fleet. Rather, it seems to be used more in the context of being the most prominent and prestigious and, for a time, most powerful ship in the Starfleet.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    The same is probably true of "finest flagship of the Praetor" in the TOS episode "Balance of Terror": not a formation leader, not a vessel hosting a flag officer, but simply the most presentable vessel of the lot. A bit like HMS Hood was the flagship of the WWII Royal Navy in the sense of being the biggest (well, longest), the most famous, and the one whose loss mattered the most.

    In turn, there have been several occasions where the word "flagship" has been used in the military context, and quite correctly. Say, Admiral Nechayev used the Gorkon as her flagship in "Descent". It's just that no Enterprise has ever received that treatment.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    The Enterprise D is referred to frequently on TNG (and the other series which reference the D) as the flagship of Starfleet/the Federation. Pike calls the Enterprise the flagship in Trek XI.

    You are essentially correct with your definition of the term flagship in the military context. Although there is also a civilian context which basically means "capital ship" which for some reason Starfleet uses.
     
  7. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Yes it's this secondary meaning of the word 'flagship' that is being used when we hear the Enterprise being called the flagship of fleet.
     
  8. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    "Our newest flagship deserves more pomp and circumstace than we can afford today." - Captain Pike, Star Trek.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    True enough - I plead "alternate universes don't count" for what really was a lapse of memory. :p

    There is also an important third definition, that of a ship designed and built to serve as a flagship or formation command vessel in times of need if not constantly. The alternate NCC-1701 might fall in that category: she's the newest of the ships built for flagship duties, even if the CO is but a Captain (although just one promotion short of Vice Admiral for some reason!) and there's no separate flag officer aboard for the first mission yet.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    I've never seen anything contemporary referring to Hood that way, I think that would have sounded completely wrong at the time. Hood wasn't even flagship of her fleet; the C-in-C flew his flag in Nelson and then King George V.

    And it sounds completely wrong to me when it is said in TNG, but it sounded good to someone and we're stuck with it.
     
  11. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    I've always looked at "Federation flagship" as being a unique thing to the 24th-Century Starfleet and just an honorific for the vessel mainly chosen to represent the Federation in matters of foreign (or I guess interstellar) policy. In that sense, it's more of a public relations thing than anything else perhaps.

    In Starfleet XI, maybe the term flagship is used in lieu of battleship, because Starfleet doesn't believe in having vessels designed mainly for combat (at least prior to the Vengeance anyway).
     
  12. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    This best represents my view of the situation.

    While these ships were never spoken of as the "flagship", we didn't see very much of the B or the C, and I suspect that the Enterprise started to be considered the flagship during or immediately after Kirk's time. Hence the unusual continuation of the name and registry number, and the media hoopla during the launching of the B.

    Also, in the context described above, I imagine that Archer's Enterprise would have been considered the flagship by default (whether or not the specific term was used), given that it was the first Warp 5 vessel and inaugurated a new era of human exploration.
     
  13. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As Timo said, the TOS ship was never refered to as the flagship of anything. It was obviously the series' flagship, given it was the one whose adventures we were chronicling. But in-universe it was always treated as though the Enterprise was just one of many ships, and that they all were of equal stature within the fleet.

    The Enterprise as a flagship didn't really begin until TNG (and as others have pointed out already, even then the term 'flagship' was used in a very loosely defined way).
     
  14. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    Nobody's disputing that literally, only the D was referred to as the "flagship" onscreen. But the extremely brief onscreen lives of the B and C leave plenty of room for conjecture as to how the Enterprise went from being just another starship in TOS to the flagship of the Federation four generations later. It would be extremely silly to assume that we know all there is to know about the service and missions of the B and C based on seeing only the first day of service of the former and the last day of service of the latter....
     
  15. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    Certainly there's strong evidence to imply the B was the flagship, after all, it had the big launch ceremony with all the media coverage. I doubt that happens for just any new starship. And therefore the C likely is too, since both its predecessor and successor were the flagship.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    The press coverage apparently was for Kirk, not the ship. And Kirk was aboard only because Starfleet had named the ship Enterprise. So we face various possibilities:

    1) Starfleet named the newest flagship the Enterprise as a good omen of sorts, and Kirk and the associated good PR came as a bonus.
    2) Starfleet named the direct successor to the E-A the E-B, intending to replace all Constitutions with Excelsiors while keeping the names; again, Kirk and the associated good PR came as a bonus. Neither the E-A nor the E-B was a flagship in any sense, though.
    3) Starfleet named a new, big but more or less random ship the Enterprise in order to get Kirk and the good PR, which the expensive and behind-the-schedule project desperately needed. The E-B may or may not have been a flagship in one or more of the senses of the word.

    We don't have any evidence that the E-B would have been the successor of the E-A in any actual technological or tactical sense, so #2 isn't my personal favorite. I'm sort of leaning toward #3 here, as Kirk's presence does look like a cheap gimmick, and while the E-B is big, she's not exceptionally big (say, compared to the Excelsior) or otherwise obviously flagship-like.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. PhoenixClass

    PhoenixClass Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I find #2 to be overly complicated. Keeping a ship name and registry number is a sign of special recognition that would be diluted by simply keeping ship names while upgrading classes. Enterprise had a special history which is why it was honored by keeping the name and registry through various incarnations.

    Afterall, ship classes are phased in and out as new technologies are developed but names are not usually repeated.
     
  18. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Sure they are we've seen a couple of Defiant's and Hoods in Star Trek.

    And what about the fact that they have been fifteen ships in the Royal Navy to bear the name Enterprise?
     
  19. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Maybe the Enterprise was regarded as the flagship because at the time of each of her incarnations she was the best or equal best ship in the fleet.
    And presumably an Enterprise had been in existence since the beginning of the Federation almost continuously. Maybe thats not the same for other ships.
    Only in TNG and the reboot have I ever heard her referred to as the flagship.
    Although in ENT she was the only ship for a while.
     
  20. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    No, Starfleet had other ships which were in service at the same time as NX-01 and before it. It was the only one capable of warp 5 for the four years after it was built and before Columbia was launched. But Starfleet did have other starships, they just didn't do warp 5.

    Also worth mentioning, the MU NX-01 is referred to as the Terran Empire's flagship.