Why is Earth so poorly defended?

Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies I-X' started by BoredShipCapt'n, Mar 14, 2014.

  1. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Regarding the "only ship in the quadrant" issue, ST2 made it pretty explicit that quadrants are smaller subdivisions of sectors, and it's extremely unusual to have two starships in the same quadrant - Sulu nearly faints at the prospect, in terms of his expression range anyway.

    In TMP, the term "quadrant" is not used at all. The Enterprise is the only starship in interception range, which of course doesn't mean she would be the only ship near Earth. There might be a dozen ships that are not starships (ST4 is the movie that makes explicit that there are ships that aren't starships), and as said, a couple of starships that aren't in intercept range because they are too slow.

    It doesn't strike me as implausible at all that the adventures in these movies, and others, would take place well outside "interception range" from Earth. Sending a ship from the Sol system might do some good in a few days, but none of the movies features a crisis that could be put on hold for a few days.

    As for ST5, it makes good sense to send Kirk in a poorly working ship. Everybody else seems to be sending their worst and dimmest, too, with high hopes of them failing and ceasing to be a pain in the ass. Remember that Kirk was given this lemon of a ship in the first place: somebody at Starfleet must really hate his guts. It need not be Admiral Bob, but it probably is every other flag officer out there; mutiny and theft of starships doesn't win you any brownie points.

    What role Spacedock Earth could play in defending the planet is unclear. It's just one station, so the enemy could simply sneak in from the opposite side of the planet! But DS9 makes it clear that starships have little hope of doing damage against fortified planets (the Breen killed themselves in a purely symbolic attack that created four or five small holes in the ground around San Francisco and vandalized a landmark), and that defensive starships would just get in the way of those highly efficient fortifications - you defend with ships only if you have failed to build proper fortifications, or are otherwise in dire straits.

    I'd say the second case is the one that should raise eyebrows. Where did all those ships come from? We never were given any indication that Earth had that many ships or friends... Let's also remember that if Earth recalled its entire fighting force for home defense in "The Expanse", perhaps 25% of it might have arrived by the time of "Zero Hour" - pre-NX-01 warp was that slow!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Yep. According to the TMP blueprint pack and Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise, the refitted Enterprise had a top speed of warp 12.

    Then TNG came along, maxed out the new Enterprise at warp 9.6 and pretended those manuals never happened.:p
     
  3. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I thought the TNG Technical Manual talks about the warp scale being re-calibrated between TOS and TNG? So there's no real conflict there that I'm aware of.
     
  4. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Well yes and no.

    Whilst it is true we never saw the Enterprise near Earth in the 23rd century, I can think of at least two episodes where it had to be near Earth in the 23rd Century

    "Tomorrow is Yesterday"
    "Assignment: Earth"

    Both of those episodes at some point either during or prior/after the episode invovled the Enterprise performing a slingshot around Sol, so by definition they were withing a few light minutes of Earth at some point during TOS.
     
  5. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I somehow forgot about that. My thoughts in saying they were ignored was more about how the new and old manuals contradict each other in general (dates, the way starship technologies work etc)
     
  6. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    I doubt the producers of TNG even knew those manuals existed. Fans were the only ones treating them as some kind of gospel, and even then only some of them.
     
  7. drt

    drt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think Decker said they'd be "accelerating to warp 7" to intercept the cloud in TMP.
     
  8. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm sure Earth has sufficient ground-based defenses. After all, a starship can only be on one side of the planet at a time. That would be my guess.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    We have heard of and seen orbital defenses in many of the Trek eras. Surface-based defenses were seen twice, too: in "Return to Grace", a Cardassian outpost had surface cannon that Dukhat and Kira remounted on their vessel, and in "Once More Unto the Breach", a Jem'Hadar surface installation had weapons capable of hurting starships.

    How big a role such surface cannon play overall is unknown, though, as V'Ger was able to shut down all of Earth's defenses with what appeared to be orbiting weapons. And in STXI, neither Vulcan nor Earth's San Francisco seemed capable of firing surface weapons at Nero's ship or her drill, even though we never heard of any weapons-dampening effect (merely a communications- and transporters-jamming one). Granted, the former may have been a remote and wayside location (we saw the Sarek residence nearby, and that supposedly sits in the obscure town of Shir'Kahr at the edge of a desert), but the other was an extremely central one, with a pronounced military presence.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    With regards to STXI we also don't know what kind of helpful information Nero might have extracted from Pike.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    I'm sure secret codes played a massive part in his ability to defeat entire militaries with civilian hardware. Probably Pike gave him a way into the relevant datanets, and Nero then inserted some fairly mundane (by late 24th century standards) malware that not merely told the defenses not to fire, but caused them to malfunction, mistarget and confuse themselves in so many ways. Given Nero's two instances of taking prisoners for information, it also seems inevitable that he took a third one, off screen, to defeat the defenses at Vulcan.

    However, surface cannon might be different game in the sense that they could easily be manned or manually repaired or overridden. The same goes for "paramilitary" vehicles; it's difficult to see how information warfare could stop somebody from taking a random flying pickup truck with a Gatling phaser hastily bolted on and using that to destroy the drill head. Such an improvised defense would not be deterred by a piece of malware that sends false commands to fightercraft formations.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. drt

    drt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    My assumption was that V'ger shut down Earth's defenses with access codes learned from Enterprise's computers, and that this was transmitted via high speed bursts from V'ger directly (similar to the transmissions Spock discovered earlier), just timed to the launch of the plasma weapons.
     
  13. terranova

    terranova Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In fact, in In Thy Image, there is another ship the Aswan, that encounters V'Ger before the Enterprise, but is destroyed, and later the Delphi helps transport Kirk and the Ilia probe to Starfleet and that ship in in Earth orbit.
     
  14. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The whole Aswan bit was stupid. It foolishly intercepted V'ger and was destroyed about 2 minutes before the much more powerful Enterprise arrived.