What's a Starship?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by EmperorTiberius, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

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    I know that the term had a special meaning in TOS, but never defined. I rewatched Relics today and Scotty says he served aboard many vessels: freighters, cruisers, starships...
    I read Timo's guide to starships a while back, and Timo thinks that they are something akin to Capital ships (correct me if I'm wrong Timo, I don't have the link handy, I might have read it somewhere else).

    I have a bit of problem with this, because capital ships were battleships and battlecruisers, and they were marked as such so that enemy nations could quickly assess strength of each nation, and so that they could keep to the treaty limits. Again, correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not good with that time period.

    The problem with this in Star Trek is obvious: You can't measure the strength of Federation or Klingons by looking at how many capital ships they have, it's useless. In Star Trek, small ships fight and are crucial to battles as seen in DS9. If Romulans judged the strength of Starfleet by the numbers of Galaxy and Nebula class ships compared to their own Warbirds, they would be in trouble (if indeed those are considered capital ships - Yamato's captain calls them cruisers).

    So what are they? Are they simply multi-role ships that can execute any mission given to it? Are they "capital ships" with a different meaning than the original meaning? A slightly different defintion perhaps?
     
  2. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    A starship is basically a ship which flies through space.

    In TOS "Starship" seemed to be a seperate classification, the Enterprise was even identified as "Starship Class" on its dedication plaque. Interestingly enough, when we saw the Defiant on Enterprise, its dedication plaque had Constitution class, but the Enterprise in Trek XI was back to Starship class on the plaque.

    But yeah, I'd agree that in TOS Starship was a term used for capital ships while in all other Treks it's a generic term for anything that flies in space.
     
  3. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

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    I sort of like the idea of it having some meaning, some sort of purpose. In DS9, even a runabout is considered starship.
     
  4. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    Well, runabouts do have their own USS names and registry numbers. They're clearly more than the average shuttle.
     
  5. Shawnster

    Shawnster Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    From TOS "Bread ans Circuses"

    Interesting to note that Merick commanded the SS Beagle, a merchant marine vessel. It wasn't USS like Enterprise.
     
  6. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well it's gotta be more than that.

    What if it's a fusion-powered sublight transport traveling from Venus to Neptune? No doubt that's "a ship which flies through space". But it's not a starship.
     
  7. sbk1234

    sbk1234 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Wasn't he washed out of Starfleet? The S.S. would be for a non-Starfleet vessel, perhaps? I'm sure it wouldn't be nearly as advanced as what Starfleet has.
     
  8. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    (comment removed)

    Shawnster beat me to it in the mention of Merik.
     
  9. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    Okay, I should have said a ship which flies through space at FTL speeds.
     
  10. Sector 7

    Sector 7 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As I read the posts before yours, this was my thought, too. I don't think it was just the USS designation which denotes a starship, though. I remember lines about many ships but only twelve starships. Also lines about the rigorous training and tests to become one of those select few... "Court Marial" perhaps?

    As far as the "capital ships" analogy: TOS was produced in a time when many things were still thought of in military terms. Roddenberry was a veteran. The "Cold War" with the Soviet Union was still ongoing, as was posturing through shows of scientific and military strength. Since TOS was a product of those times, it is probable "starship" was similar to "capital ship" as it was the finest of its kind.
     
  11. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

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    I remember another relavant occasion:
    In Peak Performance, the Ferengi Daimon says that he's reading "another Federation ship coming in, a Starship" suggesting that even in TNG time there might be a special significance.
     
  12. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    From my understanding, by Picard's era, a Starship is a space ship that has a FTL drive of notable speed to traverse the distance of two stars in a reasonable amount of time.

    Ergo you're going to not grow too old by the time you see that Star you were planning on visiting.

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Starship

    Memory Alpha's definition is somewhat similar.
     
  13. teacake

    teacake Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Why are there never any Starboats. Is it just because it sounds too dorky?
     
  14. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Starships being special is one of those TOS concepts rendered obsolete by later Treks.

    Diane Carey's excellent novel Final Frontier (no relation to the fifth movie) was packed with awe for and explanations for why the very first starship (which George Kirk would name "Enterprise" by the end of the novel) was so special. It was the first self-sufficiant ship. The first capable of continuous warp travel, rather than short jumps. The first with enough computing power to store the entirety of the Federation's knowledge. It was the new ship class which would turn the loose alliance of worlds into a truly unified Federation. A culmination of technologies, philosophies and ideals.

    ...then Enterprise came along and had ships that were essentially the same as the TOS Enterprise an entire century earlier.
     
  15. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I consider a starship to be any commissioned Federation Starfleet vessel bearing a warp (or other faster-than-light) drive, a "U.S.S." title prefix, and its own unique "NCC" or "NX" registry.

    Any ship no longer commissioned into Federation Starfleet service -- say, an Oberth-class ship sold to the University of Alpha Centauri for long-term, long-range research projects -- would no longer be considered a starship. Support vessels without their own commissions -- say, the Delta Flyer or the Type-6 Shuttlecraft Goddard -- would not be considered starships. Civilian vessels would not be starships.
     
  16. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    More than that, you should say a ship that can travel from one star system to another. Hence the word "star" in its name.
     
  17. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    Well, presumably, if you are travelling at FTL speeds, the intent is to go to another star system.
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    My take on this is time-dependent.

    For the first half of the Star Trek pseudofuture, starship would indeed be something like battleship today: there'd be star corvettes, star frigates, star cruisers (canon from "Peak Performance", and probably separate from the cruisers Scotty mentions in "Relics" or from the cruiser Aurora of "Way to Eden" fame), and then starships. NX-01 would be the first ever star vessel from Earth to warrant the designation, but every alien design from the very smallest up would be a starship in comparison.

    Whether Kirk's ship would be a star cruiser and a starship simultaneously, or one thing or the other at different points of her history, the reader can decide. Perhaps heavy star cruiser was the same thing as starship as there was nothing bigger in service to compete for the term?

    But after Kirk's days, basically every vessel in Starfleet service would become capable enough to warrant the designation starship, and only certain diehard enthusiasts like Worf or the Zakdorn strategist Kolrami would insist on distinctions like "(star) frigate" and "star cruiser". Of course, there'd still be ships that are more equal than others, and now "star cruiser" would be small potatoes compared with the "real starships", now typically from the explorer category. Again, explorer would be an analogy to today's (yesterday's, really) battleship in defining a very specific combination of capabilities and size - "explorer" would no more mean a generic vessel that explores than "battleship" means a generic vessel that battles.

    As for the Ferengi exclamation, surely one would need further defining after saying "Federation vessel", because the Federation no doubt operates garbage scows and cometary trawlers in addition to the combat vessels of Starfleet...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. t_smitts

    t_smitts Captain Captain

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    I believe Picard referred to a Romulan Warbird as a starship in "Tin Man".

    Also, based on your definition, would the Vico not be considered a starshp then? (Was it ever referred to as such in "Hero Worship"? I don't remember.)
     
  20. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I would take that as Picard either speaking imprecisely, or as Picard applying the same label to a ship commissioned into the service of the Romulan Imperial Fleet in the same way it's used for their Starfleet counterparts.

    I don't remember if it was, but I seem to recall that it was called the S.S. Vico and had an "NAR" registry. So I'm inclined to interpret the S.S. Vico as not formally being a starship.

    Again, that's just my interpretation of things.
     

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