How big is Starfleet in men and ships?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Xerxes1979, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. Xerxes1979

    Xerxes1979 Captain Captain

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    peacetime not Dominion war timeframe. In TNG many main characters spoke of "in my class" acquaintences, which would seem to me to indicate a fairly small size for Starfleet academy. Was Gary Mitchel and Kirk both ending up on the same ship a simple coincidence made possible by a small 23rd century fleet size?

    I went to a division III university and I can't say I felt great class loyalty in a vein similar to one expereinces with a high school graduating class.

    Also what is the rate of retirement from Starfleet? Both Kirk and McCoy apparently retired for a brief time despite being more or less "lifers". You can't create more officiers than there are positions for obviously.

    How long do people remain in Starfleet? Mr. Adventure seemed in awe of Uhura's twenty year space veteran status. Yet as a counterpoint most of the Reliant's bridge crew seemed to be well seasoned vets with rank lower than that of Commander Checkov's.

    Finally the battle of Wolf 359 was both a massive loss of life and one that could be made good in a year? What does that indicate as a picture of mid 2360's fleet strength?

    The Federation is huge, but how large is Starfleet? How big does it really need to be during peacetime?
     
  2. Rojixus

    Rojixus Commander Red Shirt

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    Hey, first reply!

    Anyway, I suspect that the vast majority of Starfleet ships in the early 24th century were unarmed science vessels with only a handful of armed ships. That's why Wolf 359 was considered to be such a major blow and why the Enterprise always seemed to be the only ship in the area that could do anything. In other words, Starfleet was stretched thin.
     
  3. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    There's no official answer, so any number drawn would be fan speculation. Starfleet has been depicted as being either very small or very large depending on the needs of a story. One story can have Starfleet fairly quickly assemble dozens if not hundreds of ships, while an earlier one will have it spread so thinly than there's only one vessel in an entire sector (usually the Enterprise).
     
  4. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    Just what I was going to say.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Apparently not, as Kirk made specific mention of having requested Gary as his underling on his first command. We don't know if Enterprise was this first command, or if Kirk had failed at first but succeeded in getting Mitchell on his second or third command - but we can speculate that the young and apparently steeply ascending career rocket Kirk could eventually get his wish, even in a Starfleet so big as to make this statistically unlikely.

    Admittedly, there are other coincidences in Star Trek that might suggest a small force, even in the 24th century. But, say, Picard being familiar with a number of admirals and captains of large fellow starships is not statistically unlikely - because he is a highly positioned skipper himself, and his knowing other big names would be a sensible career-furthering skill. And Admiral Pressman reuniting with Riker, or Leyton reuniting with Sisko, would not be coincidences, but active measures taken by the empowered superior officers.

    The one remaining coincidence that comes to mind is Riker knowing Paul Rice and then ending up searching for Rice's starship. On this occasion, there's no obvious reason why two officers from the same graduating class would cross paths again - unless Starfleet specifically assigned the E-D for the search of the Drake after going through all the relevant parameters and finding this one convenient connection between the missing ship and one of the many starships within range.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    In wartime (as in the Dominion War), the bulk of the fleet would be concentrated into various combat divisions/wings/fleets/whatever. In peacetime, they would be scattered far and wide going about exploration, patrol and scientific duties, hence the "only ship in the quadrant/sector" phenomenon. (Remember, the Federation sphere of influence extends throughout most of the Alpha Quadrant.)

    At the height of the DW, The Dominion was fielding a fleet of over 20,000 ships (outnumbering the Klingons 10-1). The Klingon fleet at that time was ~1100-1300 ships IIRC, meaning the rest of the Alpha Quadrant alliance's forces were split primarily between the Romulans and the Federation.

    Assuming an even split (not a given, the Romulans are traditionally thought to be somewhat resource-poor), That would put Starfleet's contribution at ~8800 ships of various classes. This after almost two and a half years of continuous armed struggle (first against the Klingons then the first part of the DW). We know canonically that Starfleet losses in the initial stages of the DW were easily 85-90%+ per operation (such as what happened to the 7th Fleet).

    I would suggest therefore that Starfleet's pre-war strength was easily at least 12-14,000 ships, and quite possibly more.
     
  7. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    From the amount of refurbished older ships seen (reused special effects shots and models) it looks like there were a lot of ships pulled out of mothballs or taken out of mundane support roles to bolster the modern front line ships. I can imagine large storage depots being formed when classes of ship are retired.
     
  8. Gaius

    Gaius Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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  9. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    All we can do is speculate, and infer the size. DSN represents one of the best shows to cauge size from.

    From Memory they used elements of 3 fleets to form the task force assigned to retake Starbase Deep Space Nine. And that wasn't complete and it numbered ~650 ships.

    So it is reasonable that the number of ships Starfleet were able to call upon was 5000+

    Of course that doesn't mean that Starfleet normally operates that number as some have already mentioned many of those ships could have been recommisioned after they where put into mothball storage.

    Being kep in reserve should they be needed for an emergency.

    Though one thing to bear in mind is any recommissioned ships would still need crew even using cadets and the reserve activation clause it might leave ships with diminished crews.
     
  10. Cyke101

    Cyke101 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, it's probably this. Sometimes stories would alternate between Starfleet being stretched too thin with only one ship in a sector, and antagonists fearing the wrath of Starfleet getting involved, as if they were commonplace police officers.
     
  11. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    From the old Epiphany Trek website and discussions on star trek online, I sort of grabbed hold to the forty thousand ship figure for the 24th century Starfleet. Covering the spectrum from patrol cutters, up to the Galaxy Classes. With the majority being relatively small, cutters and destroyers. And then a minority of the fleet being "the big boys." These would be Starfleet's combat capable ships,

    In addition to that, tens of thousands of Starfleet science vessels and various support ships. Including runabouts.

    Hmm, yes and no. Picard said the Fed was spread across 8,000 light years. The galaxy is 100,000 light years across, so a one quarter pie slice is pretty damn big.

    The Federation is about two and a half percent of one quadrant of the galaxy. But they likely do have some degree of "influence" outside their own domain.

    Personally, I think Picard's eight thousand light years is entirely inside of the Orion Arm of the galaxy.

    :)
     
  12. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A lot of old ships would already be crewed as they would be in use as patrol / supply / transport support vessels.

    Pulling ships out of Mothballs would mean lots of planetside admin and training staff would be pulled into action. You could also probably reassign around 50% of each serving starship crew to mothballed ships - peacetime starships are very overstaffed for war footing.
     
  13. Cyke101

    Cyke101 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, that's a good point. We don't really think of the admin staff (unsung heroes), and surely they must be involved. I'm not pilot or sailor or mechanic, but is there a standard ratio of vessel crew to "launch" crew in today's world of transportation? I understand such a ratio could be different in the future, but DS9 and several spacedock scenes across the spinoffs clearly depict entire crews dedicated to ship traffic.
     
  14. tafkats

    tafkats Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The whole "everybody in Starfleet went to a single academy, in San Francisco, on Earth" thing always struck me as a little weird.

    I mean, even in the United States military, recruits train at several facilities around the country. The Army has five for basic training alone, and that's not counting AIT locations. And then there are the other branches ... and West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, etc., for officers ...

    And a Federation with hundreds of member planets has only one?

    Granted, the U.S. military's largest branch is the Army and the Federation doesn't really have an Army, but still...
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    The "Starfleet mostly sits in mothballs in peacetime" concept is IMHO dubious, because most of Starfleet's duties are peacetime ones, and Starfleet in peace is stated to be constantly short on ships (so that help always arrives on the eleventh hour if then, and comprises just a single starship).

    We saw little evidence that older, TOS movie era ship types would serve in secondary roles in the TNG era. There was the Lantree doing a supply run - but sister ships Brattain and Saratoga appeared to be in frontline use. These latter vessels had higher registries, suggesting lower age; all the ships of this class seen fighting in the Dominion war had these higher registries as well.

    Yet if there was a surge of ships for the Dominion war, activation of idled units is a more likely explanation than construction of all-new ones, as we virtually never saw ships with "wartime" registries, that is, registries higher than those of the prewar DS9 and VOY hero ships. And we never saw ships under construction in that era - only older ships under repair in the prewar flashback scene of VOY "Relativity". Arguably, starship construction is such demanding and time-consuming work that a mere half-decade war won't see significant numbers of new ships completed; peacetime pressures are already so high that there cannot be appreciable increase in production speed and volume in wartime; and a century doesn't make such a difference in starship technological capabilities that a major modernization of the fleet would be needed when entering a demanding conflict.

    It might be felt politically necessary to send the officers from all of these member planets through one and the same facility, to create proper ties of loyalty. And this one facility could be a very capable and capacious one: for all we know, the entire city of San Francisco is its campus, and attendance is in the high seven digits. We already have universities like that today, even if their facilities are slightly more distributed.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I agree - I think Starfleet is at full strength in peacetime - it's not that I think it's mostly in mothballs, I just think it would make sense to store the previous generation of ships when they are replaced. Powered down they wouldn't deteriorate and as you can see from the number of Excelsior class ships in TNG it must be possible to retrofit new sensors, propulsion, weaponry etc.

    Older ships may not make the best frontline warships, but in wartime for planetary defense, convoy escort, troop transport, resupply and a multitude of other roles they would be invaluable, and free up the modern ships for other duties.
     
  17. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...Indeed, in many such roles, it wouldn't matter whether a ship was modern or ancient, as the "threat environment" would not have evolved a bit in the past three centuries - so it might make sense for Starfleet never to mothball its starships, but rather run them to the ground in tasks where old-timers performed just as well as shiny newbuilds.

    Yet we know Starfleet does idle some of its vessels, as per "Unification". But we don't know if those vessels are actually useful, or mere worn-down hulks incapable of serving in any role other than weird Romulan decoy.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  18. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    In "Unification," the surplus depot was regarded as a more of a junkyard, with the quartermaster actually saying he's used to ships not being in very good condition by the time they get to him.

    Ships sent there may be decommissioned vessels intended to be ultimately dismantled for their parts to be used in other vessels, including kitbashes perhaps.
     
  19. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, its entirely conceivable that SF had a long time of relative peace going on between the mid 23rd and mid 24th centuries... which explains presence of older ships in widespread use (and also, SF has an affinity for upgrading older vessels to perform like new ones in combat situations because they would likely have an R&D division that essentially cater to that particular area).
    It wasn't until TNG era that SF decided to start churn out much more of new ship classes.
    Probably also because their level of technology advanced to the point where they saw it as a time to upgrade/produce (attracting the attention off the Q and Travellers in the process).

    In war time, ship production would likely jump through the roof.

    As for how bit SF actually is in men and ships...
    We don't know exactly.
    SF ships have really good scanning capabilities and seem to assign 1 ship at a time to a specific task (in case of our heroes, it often meant preventing a full scale war or something else - in case of DS9 though, it was a bit different).

    Majority of SF ships would probably be out exploring and would trade places with other classes of ships inside Federation territory for duties like supply, relief efforts, diplomatic functions, etc.

    But it wouldn't surprise me if SF has at least somewhere around to 10 000 ships in peace time... if not more.

    If the registry numbers mean anything (and I think they actually might refer to production numbers), then the Feds had constructed 74656 ships by the time Voyager was released into service (that was before the FX department started randomizing the numbers into oblivion - or not).

    Either way, I see it as conceivable that as they advanced technologically, building ships became easier/faster (despite how 'complex' a ship may be - that would only play a part during the drawing board stage while actual construction time would likely be incredibly small).

    So it's not unlikely that the Federation could have close to 35 000 ships in the mid/late 24th century (while the other 37 000 were the ones constructed and destroyed/retired before that time frame).

    I mean... we do have to take into account the premise of technological advancement and expansion of the Federation.
    I doubt that SOL system is the only one in the entire Federation producing ships (other Federation members would likely allocate a portion of their shipyards to SF production because it IS an organization in charge of safety among other things).
     
  20. ajac09

    ajac09 Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I am a firm beleiver in star fleet is big. Space is vast and to defend so many member worlds would take a big star fleet. Now I bet star fleet does have a large number of ships in mothball and only activated during the time of war.

    now when it comes to star fleet academy I've always figured it was just the "elite" university. One of many places cadets go(and this is for officers others go to the various other boot camps or other places)