The TWOK Enterprise's torpedo bay revisited

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Robert Comsol, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Inspired by Greg Tyler’s article on the topic and BBS fan art I wondered whether there was still a chance to rationalize the “torpedo bay” to make sense “in-universe” – or to write it off as a production screw-up best to be ignored because this set, introduced in Star Trek II (The Wrath of Khan), obviously has a couple of issues which are highlighted in one particular scene of the film:

    [​IMG]

    Already in the original series (and the previous film) it had been suggested that firing photon torpedoes was a) an automated business and b) torpedoes could be fired in a rather quick succession. The Starship Reliant in ST II seemed to fire her torpedoes automatically, so did the Enterprise in ST III and eventually in ST VI – and again in quick succession which seems to be somehow incompatible with the illustrated scene.

    It’s been written that director Nicholas Meyer wanted to add a maritime and naval touch to ST II and that the scene was intended to carry allusions of cannons being readied and run through opening gunports on an 18th Century sailing vessel. Ironically, he could have had exactly the desired effect, if he would have just went along with what Andrew Probert had originally designed for the ship.

    According to Vonda McIntyre’s novelization, presumably based on an earlier screenplay, the travel pod with Kirk and company (and the Excelsior’s future Captain Sulu…!) arrived at the “landing bay”. There is no mentioning of a “torpedo bay” in the novelization, except that “Saavik took her place at the torpedo guidance console” and “pallbearers lifted Spock’s black coffin into the launching chamber.”

    It was not before that scene that we actually do see “Mark VI” written on Spock’s (short) casket, which ST III revealed to be a “photon tube”, obviously another name for a “Pho-Torp” (aka photon torpedo) judging by the labeling, already there in ST II but much better to read in the third film.

    The next time we see such a photon tube / photon torpedo is in ST VI when Spock and McCoy perform “surgery” to modify a photon torpedo with equipment designed to “catalogue gaseous anomalies”. Although this happens under tremendous time pressure, it is remarkable how well these components fit so quickly into the torpedo, thus it stands to reason that the Enterprise’s probes and other remote devices possibly look similar to photon torpedoes and have compatible interior circuit boards.

    Because we do not learn what it is exactly that’s being lowered by loading arm “4” onto the pre-launch track in the illustrated scene of ST II on top (other than to assume it’s a photon torpedo because that was probably the intention of the director not too familiar with the mechanics of the 23rd Century) we could consider the possibility that it was something other than a photon torpedo (though probably not Peter Preston’s casket as one might expect that Scotty’s nephew would have received a proper burial). :rolleyes:

    As a staging area to do final adjustments on sensor probes or similar devices (not too dissimilar to what we saw Spock and McCoy actually doing in ST VI - shot by the same director and perhaps a hint how to re-interpret the scene in ST II retro-actively?) this area would make some sense, yet wouldn’t interfere with the automated launching of the actual photon torpedoes (apparently already stored in the vicinity of the actual launch tubes and ready to be instantly fired when required).

    What would the launch of a sensor probe prior to the Mutara Battle have been good for?

    Although the torpedo bay doesn’t really play a part in the ST II novelization, the novelization provides a helpful clue, nevertheless.

    One of the questions in the film was how the Enterprise knew her orbital position around Regula but the Reliant did not. Spock: “Spacelab’s scanners [Regula One], however, are fully operational; they are transmitting the position of Reliant.”

    So the Enterprise was tapping into the scanners of Regula One to gain a tactical advantage. About the Mutara Nebula Saavik reported “Trouble with the nebula, sir, is all that static discharge and gas clouds our tactical display. Visual won't function and shields will be useless.”

    Deploying some probes into the nebula as an attempt to extend or enhance limited scanning abilities could not only have provided the Enterprise with yet another tactical advantage, but could be the explanation how Enterprise knew exactly when to ascent in order to pop up right behind the Reliant in order to immobilize her.

    If the staging area is designed to prepare probes and other devices prior to launch (but not photon torpedoes), then “torpedo bay” looks like a misnomer

    What actually is the “torpedo bay”?

    Is it truly just the interior compartment/s we saw in ST II or does “torpedo bay” refer to the whole superstructure below the connecting dorsal and above the engineering hull?!?

    In the latter case the actual torpedo bay, named for its prime function (i.e. to launch photon torpedoes) would probably consist of various sections which may explain what we saw numbered and suggested in the film:
    • Torpedo bay (Section) 1 - exterior starboard area including Docking Port 2
    • Torpedo bay (Section) 2 - probe staging area and pre-launch track (front launcher), e.g. Kirk and company arrival scene, Spock's funeral
    • Torpedo bay (Section) 3 - exterior port area including Docking Port 4
    • Torpedo bay (Section) 4 - probe staging area and pre-launch track (aft launcher), e.g. red alert scene prior to Mutara Battle
    [​IMG]

    There is no indication the refit / movie Enterprise ever had an aft (torpedo?) launcher

    That apparently applies for the Star Trek I (The Motion Picture) Enterprise as the black area at the connecting dorsal’s stern was merely labeled as “photon exhaust” (and not “photorp exhaust”) in the official blueprints for the film.

    But the whole concept of an aft (torpedo) launcher was first visualized in ST I for the Klingon Battlecruisers seen at the beginning of the film. There was no indication in the original or the animated series that a Klingon Battlecruiser had such an aft launcher.

    As a possible Klingon upgrade in ST I, Starfleet may have been interested to add such a feature aboard its starships, too, which might just be what we saw in ST II, taking place a couple of years after events in ST I.

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013
  2. Mark_Nguyen

    Mark_Nguyen Commodore Commodore

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    Great analysis!

    My take on this is generally that the photon torpedo system is in fact automated, and that they had to open up that room for use as a result of the movie's events. Consider three possibilities:

    a) Enterprise at this point is a training ship. It would make sense to have a space where the cadets could learn how to prep and launch torpedoes, sensor probes, etc. This theory has been posted widely before.

    b) By this point in the film, the ship had taken significant damage. The scene where Kirk and Spock evaluate the damage on the bridge ("They knew exactly where to hit us...") suggest that some of that damage was in the area of the torpedo launchers; thus as part of their hasty repair job they defaulted back to manual loading and arming of torpedoes through the big room.

    c) They only started lifting the grilles off the track right before entering the nebula, after deciding to head there. Perhaps they needed to modify the torpedoes for use in that soup, and what better place to modify them but that compartment?

    Mark
     
  3. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I figured that when readying to rapid-fire, a whole row of photons could be loaded up in the bay, end to end.

    Whenever someone would mention the lack of an aft torpedo launcher on the classic movie Enterprise, I always said that had extra ones ever been needed, a hatch would open somewhere on the hull revealing a tube beneath. And it happened in the last movie!
     
  4. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    Great article - an approach I had not previously considered. One thought:

    Rather than the "photon exhaust vent" being the location of the aft torpedo/probe launcher, what about those red-lit areas above the shuttlebay? It's never defined what they are, and the colour would certainly match! It also avoids any accidental collisions with the nacelle pylons :devil:
     
  5. Unwrapped

    Unwrapped Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    I was wondering about these too, and they seem like good possibilities. I agree about Reliant's firing seeming to be largely automated, outside of the one line about the first phaser strike damaging the photon controls.
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Or, the whole system IS automated, and they only put down those grilles to cover the torpedo run when they want to use the space for some other purpose, like the inspection.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  7. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    I also prefer to think that the torpedo system was automated, but manned like in TOS. The torpedo bay could be switched to automated, but it would require someone in the bay to prep and activate the system.

    That addresses B and C where IMO the grilles were still on the automated tracks because they just finished boarded Kirk & Co and hadn't removed them yet for combat action and that the cadets were unable to immediately reach and crew the torpedo bay once Kahn crippled the Enterprise.

    Yes, that would help fill the empty space behind the horizontal conduit in the engine room :)
     
  8. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Thank you! Only took me three decades, inspiration from various BBS discussions and TWOK in HD resolution (to spot Docking Port "2") to get it done.

    To me this somehow doesn't sound right. The Enterprise underwent a major refit with considerable state-of-the-art upgrades one decade earlier and by the time of TWOK she qualifies no longer as a starship of the line but has been downgraded to a cadet vessel?

    Considering that where I live they use sailing ships as cadet vessels, I would have rather expected an old J-Class starship to still serve as a cadet vessel (with secured baffle plates, hopefully ;)).

    To me it rather seemed than even the ships of the line have periods of cadet training, i.e. a temporary but not permanent crew of cadets.

    Also, I think the Enterprise couldn't afford the luxury of manual torpedo loading or a drill. The ship was in a bad condition and was about to go into actual battle. Have some nervous cadet screw up and the launchers jammed probably wasn't a risk Admiral Kirk would have taken.

    That's a possible alternate explanation. But to have an automated torpedo launcher and a loading arm for manual operation looks a little like "better too safe, than sorry" (and we'd still have to explain how Enterprise knew exactly at which moment to pop up behind Reliant), IMHO.

    That's a good one. But in the red lit scene we see no preparation in the staging area, it looks like the black thing goes straight into the launcher.
    After both torpedo guidance controllers in the forward Section 2 had been taken out, Chekov activates the manual override joystick on the Bridge. It's somewhat inconclusive whether the torpedo he fired had guidance control or whether Chekov just scored a lucky shot.

    @ Mytran

    In the red lit Section 4 there's the "Docking Port 2" sign over the round airlock door (it's "Docking Port 4" in the Forward Section 2). Therefore it apparently leads straight to the starboard docking port of the torpedo bay which is why we are looking at an aft launcher in the torpedo bay.

    Although the TNG Enterprise's aft launcher is located at the stern of the ship / the dorsal's "extension" the TMP Enterprise's dorsal "extension" does not feature a structure that could suggest an aft launcher there, IMHO:

    [​IMG]

    In addition, Section 4 has two deck levels, too, the staging area below and the balcony above. Besides, I think Mr. Yamada portrayed the area at the stern of the ship above the landing bay doors so well, that I wouldn't believe it to look anything else, unless really necessary: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fesarius2271/8006283488/in/photostream/

    (however, like with the TOS Enterprise, I don't think we are looking at a landing bay control room but rather at the control room for both aft phasers. Notice the two top windows that would allow a quick evaluation of a phaser beam emanating from either the port or starboard aft phaser)

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  9. starburst

    starburst Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I preferred it when Enterprise was state of the art in TMP... One of the very few things I didnt like about WOK.

    The automated system makes much more sense, I think I remember the author of Mr Scotts Guide rationalised it that there had been issues with the automated system so it was removed (over heating or something).

    The way these torpedoes are shown being loaded do cause a problem with the idea the ship can fire in quick succession, something which also appeared in the set design of the NX-01 armoury = how do they quickly reload the individually Spacial Torpedoes or restock the Photonic Torpedo magazine?
     
  10. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Technically there isn't anything about the Enterprise that appears to be out-dated in TWOK. Yes, Admiral Morrow calls out her age, but we're not given anything specifically wrong with the Enterprise in TSFS other than the political hot potato that was going on.

    As far as state-of-the-art ships being used for training, the Defiant-class USS Valiant was being used in DS9 so it's not unheard of.

    The theory that has been around for a while is that the loading rail in TWOK / TUC feeds a multi-round magazine at the each launcher to facilitate rapid-firing.
     
  11. starburst

    starburst Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Maybe out of date is the wrong word as she didnt seem any less than Reliant or any other ship (apart from Excelsior obviously). I would guess the idea that shes been left behind is connected to the general theme of aging during the film and then Morrow's comments in the next film.

    The other thing would be the Directors choice of making the sets look more 'worn' and lived in which he also did with TUC.

    The same episode shows Jake and Nog shocked that a bunch of cadets had such a ship, that was meant to be a temporary perk with the ship being redeployed to Sol Fleet defense at the least when they got back.

    I doubt starfleet would relegate the Enterprise from a front line exploration ship to a training vessel without good reason. Why waist a Constitution when they could have a survey ship instead?

    I like that theory myself but it still raises a fairly lengthy reload time depending on how many rounds the magainzine initially holds.
     
  12. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    I entirely disagree with this assessment. First of all, unless the beam was firing basically straight back, there's no way a person stationed behind those red windows would ever actually see the beam coming off of the phaser turrets. Secondly, exactly zero of the ship's other eight phaser bank emplacements have corresponding viewports, lit red or otherwise. I am quite comfortable with this area being the control tower for incoming and outgoing shuttlecraft, as has mostly been assumed these past three decades.

    --Alex
     
  13. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Perhaps it was Captain Spock's choice? Or the cadets were TOS versions of the elite red squad?

    Very true. I don't think we've seen the E fire off a bunch of torpedoes in succession so I'm not sure how many the magazine would initially hold. My guess is at least 2 since in TSFS they got 2 off from the starboard launcher in rapid succession.
     
  14. Workbee

    Workbee Commander Red Shirt

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    I got the impression that rather than the Enterprise being a "general purpose" training vessel, the purpose of the training mission specifically to train a new crew for the Enterprise. This is based on McCoy's comment to Kirk after the Kobayashi Maru simulation, "Admiral, wouldn't it just be easier to put an experienced crew back on the Enterprise" (or something to that effect).

    They weren't training cadets to serve on other ships, they were training them to replace a previous crew. There is no need to assume that the Enterprise had been downgraded or taken off exploration assignments for good. She was still ship of the line, they just in the process of familiarizing her new crew with the ship and systems. Also, Kirk indicated he wanted to return to the Genesis Planet at the end of TWOK. Not a likely expectation if the Enterprise would only be doing training missions for the foreseeable future.

    What is uncertain is what would have happened to the command staff once the crew was prepared for actual duty. Kirk had taken himself out of the equation. Spock didn't seem to want command outside of a teaching environment (of course he might have just been trying to encourage his friend assume command). Sulu seemed to have another assignment. It's entirely likely that a new commander would have been brought in.
     
  15. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    That's not exactly correct. To test a phaser beam and - if useful - perform a visual scaning there are plenty of viewports above or below possible phaser beam trajectories (even the windows of the botanical section for the engineering hull ventral phasers). There is no way to do a visual scan that close to the stern except through these two viewports

    That's were I beg to differ. As a landing control tower it's impractical because you won't be able to see how the shuttlecraft actually lands or takes off. For that we have the observation or landing bay control deck inside which would make an outer control tower rather redundant, IMHO.

    Bob

    @ Workbee

    Good observations!
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  16. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe I'm misreading here, but you guys do realize that the red windows above the hangar doors did have corresponding windows facing INTO the hangar, so the controllers could see the hangar and out into space. They're not visible in the movie because the workbee towing the pods travels in front of them, but they're in Andy's matte studies: two windows between the light stripes on the ceiling at the far end.
     
  17. Mark_Nguyen

    Mark_Nguyen Commodore Commodore

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    Two more bits:

    Regarding upgrading the Enterprise and then having her become a training ship not a decade later: In today's Navy, they have what's called a "Service Life Extension Program" applied to many of their warships to do just that. For example, in the 80s the USN performed a SLEP on the Forrestal-class carriers to extend their lives another 10-15 years (The Forrestals were originally designed for about 30 years). The process itself took a good 2-3 years per ship to upgrade electronics, catapults, weapons systems, etc. A lot of effort for only a decade or so more life. Even today a Nimitz carrier can be laid up for up over a year between deployments while they scrape the barnacles off the hull and apply new paint, however those ships are expected to last 50+ years with that sort of maintenance.

    And about that launcher room - it's a good observation that the room itself is not necessarily manual at all - the only actual activities performed there involved taking the grates off, and then one cadet standing there while the torpedo made its own way down the track. It's still a little weird that they waited THAT LONG in an obvious combat situation to load the torpedo bays, though.

    Mark
     
  18. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Good catch Workbee. That makes the most sense with the given dialogue. :techman:

    Redundancy isn't a bad thing. The TOS shuttlebay had 2 to 4 control/observation towers on the inside. The whole landing and takeoff from the shuttlebay still needs two parts - the interior observation and the exterior observation. The interior control room wouldn't be able to visually see the shuttle approaching from the outside so having an exterior room makes sense.
     
  19. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, I'm of the opinion that those red light windows are an Approach Control tower to see small craft coming in. And, Maurice, nice call out for those windows looking back onto the deck, I hadn't caught those before. That locks it in as far as I'm concerned.

    Robert Comsol, I challenge you to get a hold of a CG refit model and place a camera looking out of those windows and add a narrow cylinder into the scene to approximate the phaser fire... I guarantee you that you'll only see the beam if it's firing basically straight aft. I can't imagine much utility for seeing that angle on the beams. Let alone installing windows there for the expressed intent of seeing the beams...

    --Alex
     
  20. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^^Andy pointed those windows out to me when we discussed the hangar (NOT shuttlebay) many moons ago, so it was always intended to be a flight control room.