How big is Starfleet in men and ships?

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

  1. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    We know canonically from WHMHGB (TOS) that ships can and have traveled all the way out to the galactic rim, and have explored all the way inward to the Great Barrier around the galactic core.

    Even if we take Picard's "8,000 light year" figure as a solid sphere of 8,000 ly in diameter, the Federation "sphere of influence" would be 268,082,573,106 cubic ly (rounded to the nearest ly). Using the commonly accepted figure of a 20 ly "sector", that would be 33510 sectors (again rounded to the nearest sector). For Starfleet to maintain any sort of presence in just 1/3 of them would require a fleet of 11,170 ships at 1 ship/sector. That assumes that all ships are always out in the field all the time, which does not allow for ships to be drydocked for repair/refit, crew rotation, or any other function.

    And again, that assumes the Federation is a single, contiguous spherical area. Spreading the Federation out over a larger, non-contiguous area would increase the amount of ships needed to maintain such a presence, as some ships would be always in transit, and thus "out of position".

    Actually, it's the other way around. Warships tend to have bigger crews than civilian vessels because of the need for crew redundancy in case of casualties during combat, plus the number of highly specialized functions that only occur on combat vessels.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yet it doesn't appear to do so - we see no explicitly new ships in the Dominion war, save for Sisko's second Defiant. Older designs remain prevalent, and only registries lower than those of famous prewar ships are ever observed.

    Plus, Starfleet is dangerously short on ships in peacetime. Why would this be, if Starfleet were capable of building more ships? It's quite possible that ship production has already hit the roof in peacetime, and further ramping up is impossible.

    Since both the outer rim and the inner barrier are imaginary characteristics of the Trek universe rather than real physical phenomena, we don't necessarily have to assume that they would be quite as distant as the real (if ambiguous) outer rim of the Milky Way disk or the real galactic core.

    But let's assume the TOS voyages indeed went tens of thousands of lightyears outward and inward along the galactic plane. A hundred such sorties would still only chart an insignificant volume of space. The exploratory routes would be mere thin lines, no thicker than the maximum range of starship active sensors (the TNG Tech Manual suggests a few dozen lightyears at most) in a vast volume that remained unexplored despite the voyages. It wouldn't be until tens of thousands of radial sorties were made that their volumes would begin to overlap at the 8,000 ly range.

    Apparently, Starfleet doesn't support much of a presence, as it takes months or years to investigate the mysterious cessation of communications from a million-strong colony or a starship on an important assignment. And there isn't any sort of a credible perimeter defense, as encounters with unknowns and hostiles deep within UFP or UFP-explored space are not considered surprising at all.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    There is no evidence for this. "Only ship in the quadrant/sector" is easily explained by the vast scope of their area of operations.

    There you go again, trying to substitute your "unique" notions for canon fact. You do that a lot.

    Those ship readings are supplemented by automated probes, unmanned high-power sensor arrays, etc, all of which are canonically established.
     
  4. Trek Survivor

    Trek Survivor Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, we know that 39 ships and nearly 11,000 lives (most of which were probably Starfleet) were lost at the Battle of Wolf 359, and don't really hear much about this causing a massive resource issue, so as a minimum number, we're safe to assume at least double that amount.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Quite so - but this also establishes that Starfleet is powerless to fight the issue, and thus colonies are lost to disasters that could have been averted had a second or more proximal ship been available. If the situation can be remedied in war where resources necessarily are concentrated and diverted, why not in peace where they are available in abundance and the enemy does not dictate their application?

    Why not? It's not as if the canon facts add to anything much: they're only a thin spiderweb pretending to be a solid canvas of art, with the audience filling in the gaps and tying together the ends flapping loose.

    Canon never said how far Kirk went in "Where No Man" or "By Any Other Name" or "Is There In Truth". All we learned was that he went to the strange barrier at the rim of the galaxy in the first two episodes, and entered "a space-time continuum" in the third that looked quite a bit like that barrier. There's no particular reason to think that this would have taken place beyond Picard's 8,000 ly figure - or that at least some of it (the "In Truth" bits) wouldn't have happened millions of lightyears away from Earth and the Milky Way. No reason other than trying to keep some sort of consistency for the warp speed, distance and travel time references that form our spiderweb.

    ...And still amount to a pitiful 11% ("Where No One") or 19% ("The Dauphin") of the galaxy explored, a far cry from a full quadrant. The percentage actually visited by landing parties and away teams may be anywhere between 11% and 0.0011% as far as canon goes.

    Not to mention that in Kirk's time, at least a hundred years after Earth began using warp-speed starships for other things besides battling the Romulans, many of the nearby stars were still unknown quantities, full of wonders that only Kirk would uncover. We don't have to speculate about the reach and thoroughness of Earth's or the Federation's exploration effort, when we can directly see it comes to just about nil even in Picard's time.

    Apparently not necessarily in Starfleet, though - Kirk would carry 400-500 fellow spacemen and -women on exploration missions, but ships lost to combat at Wolf 359, each of them larger than Kirk's, would be listed as having gone down with an average of only 250.

    On the other hand, we have the alternate timeline E-D with 5,000 people aboard in wartime, as opposed to the mere 1,000 on Picard's peacetime voyages. And DS9 "Field of Fire" lists a supposed Excelsior as having been lost with some 1,250 personnel. A wartime increase to operating crews - or evidence of troops being shipped? Difficult to tell.

    Interestingly, the wall chart onboard DS9 would list casualties on a day-to-day basis, and these would always seem to be a trickle, with at most dozens per starship (regardless of whether we looked at the chart in detail or satisfied ourselves with the unfocused artwork available without screencaps or backstage information)...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    We know in "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" that Kirk tells Captain Christopher regarding the Enterprise that "there are only 12 like it in the fleet".

    Whether that means 12 or 13 ships like the Enterprise is up to interpretation. Some have claimed that this meant only 12 or 13 ships in the entire Starfleet but that of course is ridiculous.

    For most of the last couple of decades, a captain aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier could correctly say that "there are only 12 like it in the fleet" and be completely accurate but the U.S. fleet still has hundreds of vessels.

    The loss of 39 ships at Wolf-359 and Shelby's "we'll have the fleet up and running in less than a year" gives some idea about the Federations ship production capabilities in peacetime.

    Assume that they can replace 39 ships in about 10 months (less than a year) then that means that Starfleet normally builds about 4 new starships a month or about one a week. This would have to be the level of peacetime production as there was no time for production to have been ramped up significantly around Wolf-359.

    The huge number of Miranda and Excelsior class ships during the Dominion War gives some clues as to how the Federation operates during war time. I think that the Federation has a system similar to the old Soviet Army where they stored vast amounts of military hardware to equip reservists and others called to duty during wartime.

    I suspect that huge numbers of Excelsiors and Mirandas were put into mothballs (or more likely ready reserve) and kept in combat ready condition in case of time of war, when they could be deployed quickly and manned by minimal crews.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Or perhaps ship reassignment capabilities? We might note or ignore the presence of many study models of TOS movie era (or even older) vessels among those lost, and speculate that (most of) the destroyed ships were bottom-of-the-barrel junk that typically floats around Earth - and that Starfleet in the aftermath of the battle would want not only to compensate for the number of ships lost, but also to reassign actual combat forces to the vicinity of Earth, in a radical change from previous policy.

    This is certainly a possibility. The other one is that those ships remained in constant operation, just like Klingon ships of old design appear to serve through decades and centuries. We never quite got the impression that the peacetime TNG Starfleet would consider either Miranda or Excelsior outdated or useless. Admittedly, the first class was seen in "secondary" tasks only, and two were present among the Qualor II junk - but the latter class was always seen busily serving next to the Galaxy class, and even receiving experimental updates to its drive systems that were only later given to the E-D ("Where No One Has Gone Before").

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    Because even in a generally prosperous "post-scarcity" economy such as the 24th century Federation, there is a trade off in use of resources, if only in manufacturing time for large items like starships.

    More like "Hey, let's put sunglasses on the Mona Lisa! Why? Why not? It makes sense to me and looks cool!"
    Not true, look up the eps in question and they are quite explicit. Kirk's mission was to go beyond the galactic rim in WNM, in BAON they explicitly went beyond the galactic rim (something they would do again in Beyond the Farthest Star. In ITIT again explicit mention is made of them being beyond the galactic rim.

    Nope, sorry. Again you're substituting what you WANT for canon fact.
    None of which in any way argues for a "small" Starfleet. In fact, you're reinforcing my point that just to maintain a minimal presence in a fraction of all that requires a LOT of ships, as I demonstrated.

    Apples and oranges. Ships are more automated in TNG than TOS. Witness what happened when the Defiant lost it's computers to Eddington's virus and they had to go back to the more manpower-intensive way of doing it.

    Speculation. It's still simple fact that civilian ships would not need massive amounts of military specialists, and neither would Starfleet in peacetime.

    Simple static graphics meant to imply a user-interactive variable display. The list as seen was not the entire list.

    Which was the model GR was following at the time. The Connies were the "best of the best", much as the Galaxies would later become.

    That assumes that they were devoting full resources to just that task. It could just as easily be that that was 1 shipyard's output, or part of a shipyard's output.

    BOBW is a poor reference point in any event, as it is swamped by other canon evidence suggesting a large fleet and the associated shipbuilding capacities.
     
  9. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Shelby's statement might also refer to the time frame needed to also fully staff those 39 ships.
    The construction times could be tiny in comparison of finding 10 000 replacements in crews (the actual ships could be replaced inside say a month - but crewing them would take longer).
    We are talking about 39 new captains (in case there aren't any currently on 'hold') along with first officers, bridge crews, etc.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This in no way explains why Starfleet would fail to respond to an ongoing peacetime crisis, unless we subsequently assume Starfleet is equally at failure to respond to war.

    And? That's what I said, too. Nothing there about the distance.

    Bullshit. None of your argumentation differs in any way - you decide that a certain phrase means X, I decide it looks better meaning Y, but it's us talking where the writers wisely left things unsaid.

    But there is no minimal presence - there's only absence, which drives the Star Trek plots.

    Explored space is not patrolled. Systems are not defended. The enemy can intrude virtually unchallenged to Vulcan ("Unification") or the Moon of Earth ("Descent"), or traverse through the UFP or its regions of interest in decisive strength unobserved ("Way of the Warrior" or "Improbable Cause").

    The obvious argument for why that is dovetails to yours: the ability to control a region of space that vast is so far beyond the means of the UFP that they don't even try. But we are still missing the actual reason for them failing to attempt even a partial remedy - or any proof that this reason would be tied to whether there is war or peace.

    ...And did it without bringing any extra personnel abroad. Or are you deciding they did? You're allowed to do that, you know. It's just not part of direct canon evidence.

    Your facts are worth nothing special, though. It's an equally simple fact that military ships would need massive amounts of civilian specialists in order to perform civilian duties, which means Starfleet would need them in peacetime. Equal facts there; only the observed onscreen illusion holds decisive power over them.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Knight Templar

    Knight Templar Commodore

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    The Best of Both Worlds is also a very poor way to judge the size and strength of Starfleet given that the 40 (could be more as there was time after Hanson stated the strength of the fleet for others to join it) ships were the number that could manage to mobilize for a joint effort against a threat approaching faster than any Federation ships could manage (the Enterprise could only keep pace with the Borg cube for a couple of hours).

    Given that not a single starship was shown anywhere in the Sol system when the Borg ship entered it, I would surmise that the Wolf-359 force was the force that normally protects the Sol system plus whatever else was close at hand.

    One question I've always had is why the Borg even bothered to drop out of warp and fight at Wolf-359 anyway.

    Why not just blow by them at Warp 9.6 and keep going?
     
  12. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    WNMHGB never mention the galactic "rim." Kirk said they would be probing outside the galaxy. Our galaxy is like a very thin pancake, by simply traveling up, the Enterprise would reach the upper "edge" of the thin disc of the milky way galaxy after traveling several hundred light years.

    The Orion arm is some 3.000 plus light years wide. Roughly 6,000 light years separate the Orion arm from the Sagittarius-Carina arm on the inside and the Perseus arm on the outside, the gap between arms isn't quite empty, but contains mostly red dwarf stars. The area above and below the thin disk is also not quite empty of stars.

    All thing considered, it's unlikely that the Federation is a sphere in shape. Picard's description of the Federation as being "spread across eight thousand light years" most likely indicates the length of Federation space at it's greatest dimension.

    This 20 light year figure for a sector is new to me, where is it from?

    :)
     
  13. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    It's from non-canon sources, namely a couple of reference manuals (The Star Trek Encyclopedia and Star Trek: Star Charts).

    Onscreen, though, the size of a sector has never been officially established. Presumably, it's smaller than a quadrant.