ST:TMP: Was such a massive refit of the USS Enterprise logical?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Tribble puncher, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. Tribble puncher

    Tribble puncher Captain Captain

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    99% of us love the refit USS Enterprise which made her stunning debut in TMP.......

    But did it make any sense to rebuild her to that degree? Wouldn't it have been more efficient to simply build a new ship and send the Enterprise out on one last Hurrah 1-2 year mission while the new ship was being built? (So she could in essence, be in two places at once?) Decker Himself said it was "almost" a totally new Enterprise, and he's right...as there is nothing visible of the old ship remaining. I can only imagine some of the space frame is left, but even most of that must be gone as well as the proportions and angles of all the connecting pieces, primary and secondary hulls are different. It's commonly accepted that all of the "original series" ships were modernized to the degree that the Enterprise was. Why? How does it make any sense? surely it would make more sense to just build new ships from scratch, as opposed to investing God only knows how many man hours to disassemble a ship only to replace 90% of it with all new parts. All the while the older ships are out there doing their thing until they get replaced.

    My theory is the Enterprise was refit as a propaganda tool. We know the news service is run by the government, and that the Enterprise was a legend in her time, what better way to drum up public support for a massive military spending ramp up than to roll out a shiny new, state of the art Enterprise....with headlines like: "The Phoenix Reborn! Legendary USS Enterprise rebuilt to lead our stronger, more advanced fleet to safeguard the Federation!" or something.....what do you guys think? am I totally off?
     
  2. Nightowl1701

    Nightowl1701 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't think it was supposed to be that massive, at least at the time. From a distance, the only major changes were the warp/impulse engines, new bridge, expanded hangar, deflector dish and torpedo launcher. Like with the total revamp of the Klingons, Gene was trying to say "This is how it was always supposed to look." A visual reboot of the universe, if you will, freed of the restrictions of a 1960's TV budget. (Much like what Discovery's seemingly threatening to do, come to think of it...)

    Remember, Matt Jefferies changed the proportions and angles of the Enterprise for Phase II already, before Taylor and Probert got their hands on it; most of the TOS exterior details stayed the same until the handover. It was clearly meant to be thought of as the same ship still.

    If I'd been in charge of TOS:R, I wouldn't have stuck with the exact 1960's design. I'd have taken the TMP model and worked backwards, de-fitting it in the major areas, slapping on TOS decals and leaving the rest alone.
     
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  3. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe there were treaty restrictions limiting fleet size? If you can't build new ships rebuild the old ones.
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    There would be nice precedent ITRW, yes - there could be a "London/Washington Treaty" with the Klingons, so that Starfleet pays lip service to treaty limitations by building an all-new ship and bolting a dedication plaque from an old one onto it, shrieking "Refit!" at Klingon critics while glancing nervously in the direction of Organia.

    That the curves of the hull changed is much more evident in this transformation than during the TNG movies where the E-E subtly changes. We might ignore the latter change even at the current resolution and repeatability of the visuals, but it's a bit difficult to do that in the former case. Since the hull changed shape, it might be prudent to argue e.g. that the older one was fatigued beyond salvage and utterly replaced.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Ithekro

    Ithekro Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think there was something about the refit taking a year and a half compared to building a new ships taking three - five years, or something like that. Perhaps due to some components that take longer fabrication time that remained intact on the refits. Or the new built ships are superior technologically or perhaps structurally, but the refits bring more mostly modern hulls in service faster than strictly building new ships.

    We have had plenty of ships all over the world that have has substantial refits, rebuilds, and reconstructions over the centuries. Some just to stay in service. Some to modernize, and some to change what they effectively are. Some ships become effectively obsolete too quickly due to technology changes. The national investment in said ships would be wasted if the ship was not able to be used in same way. Sometimes this makes the ship is downgraded due to being obsolete. Other times it is scrapped (due to being superfluous...to many ships), and sometimes they are refit to modernize them or change their purpose. Either with new engines, weapons, radar and the like, or the hull is changed and things are removed and replaced with other hull parts and equipment to make it a completely different kind of ship.
     
  6. Keycube

    Keycube Cadet Newbie

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    Greetings, all. First-time poster. Long-time Star Wars fan that's re-introducing myself to ST after watching Disney miss the mark a bit with the last two films. FWIW, while SW design/engineering has been in my blood for over 35 years, the refit Enterprise is the most elegant craft in the history of sci-fi, IMO. So there's my introduction. :)

    The thing I loved about the refit was how it enhanced everything positive about the original craft and essentially let it evolve and mature. I like the OP's theory about the propaganda tool; this was only one ship among (presumably) many in the fleet, yet she was special and it was known galaxy-wide. Devoting time to retaining her "essence" (whatever that really was) surely contributed to her larger-than-life status, and news of this would have resonated across the galaxy. And much like aircraft, it allowed a microscope to be placed upon major wear components during tear-down, and then optimized in real-time. But all the while, all of the major engineering issues involving packaging were sidestepped, since in basic shape, it was the same ship. As an aside, one of my favorite changes are the tapered warp nacelle supports; not only elegant and flowing, but offering more "support" in its central placement along the nacelle. (Yeah, normally not an issue, but this is the sort of thing that made me wince when I saw the JJprise on the ground with gravity acting upon her. I assume the Enterprise was never meant for atmospheric flight, eh? Her design really isn't conducive to it). So while it may in fact have not been the most cost-effective approach to rolling out a "new" ship out, it probably paid for itself in terms of hype. Fear of the unknown combined with fear of the known.

    (I'm tempted to go on a Star Wars tangent about the mark being missed in regards to rebel ship design not being more modular for cost reasons, but I shall refrain...)

    As I think about it, I liken it to the Corvette; in many ways, it is essentially the same car that was reinvented in 1984. Lots of subtle change, but its essence is retained with its legendary handling at its core. Talk of going mid-engine has been brandied about for 25 years, but this car with its evolutionary upgrades was always a value sleeper, and though it has grown a bit long in the tooth for some, it always delivers. That's the Enterprise.

    I'm a bit of a newbie to the nuts & bolts of ST, so forgive me if I miss the mark on some things. Still learning. :)

    Robert
     
  7. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Should be chleaper and faster to refit then build from scratch. There is some psychological value in refitting a ship the Klingons and Romulans fear.
     
  8. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    The old FASA Trekverse actually handled this fairly well, IMO - the USS Enterprise was the only ship from her original batch to survive the five year mission (not the only Constitution class to survive, mind you - FASA had a higher build number for them ;)) and the original refit was supposed to be smaller and simpler. But Scotty soon realized that the newer technology that we first see in TMP wasn't entirely compatible with elements of the original technology, so he helped supervise a considerably more complex and elaborate overhaul that helped maintain the Class I ships as being current/cutting edge.
     
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  9. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    I've always chalked it up to politics. For some reason, possibly an external treaty with some party like Klingons (or even Romulans, who we're so buddy-buddy with in ST6), or possibly even internal concerns, I can imagine the Federation Council not authorizing new builds for whatever reason and Starfleet having its cake and eating it too by stripping an old ship to its barest nubbins and building a new one in its place Ship of Theseus style while claiming it's a refit.

    There doesn't seem to be any real good engineering reason for it.

    --Alex
     
  10. sumbuddyx

    sumbuddyx Captain Captain

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    I always liked the idea that it started as a small refit and gradually got bigger and bigger as time went on. If they'd allowed the same amount of time to pass in-universe between TOS and TMP as out of universe there could have been something transitionary like the New Voyages/Phase II Enterprise between the two versions.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It would be nice to learn what was changed functionally and what was merely altered aesthetically. Are the new pylons better than the old ones, or merely the same but built in modern style? Is the new powerplant better or merely more up-to-date and therefore more compatible with current spares and repair tools? Are the new engines different or just differently shaped?

    We saw the old ship do warp 10 easily enough, and warp 14+ on one occasion. The new one did warp 7 when in extreme hurry. Were the new engines too unreliable to be run at maximum power during that emergency, or were they simply slower (but more reliable, less fuel-hungry or less likely to kill the crew with radiation)?

    As for atmospheric flight, we know what a Starfleet spacecraft looks like when it is designed to do that - it's a brick with pontoons. The hero starship might actually be a more natural flier than that, but it wouldn't matter because all Starfleet gear flies unnaturally in the end.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    The above mentions of real ships being extensively refit are pertinent. Before WWII, when navies began to realize that aircraft carriers were going to be important, a great number of cruisers and lesser ships were converted to flattops, their superstructures stipped to the deck before having new ones built up and the flight deck added. Heck, the first US carrier, the Langley, had been built as a collier! In these cases the final vessel looked radically different than the way it had been built in the first place.

    Also consider the USS Merrimac, which started life as a tall ship, and ended up as the mastless ironclad gunboat CSS Virgina!
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    This was also a fashion period of sorts: refits like that ceased soon after WWII, some minor conversions of excess amphibious assault ships to various utility uses notwithstanding. (New weapons such as SAMs or SSMs or drones were also experimentally refitted to older ships, but few of those were of any operational worth.)

    Starfleet seems to follow fashion, too, as there have been no refits of comparable sort in any of the other fictional time periods. Or at least we have never seen both the "before" and "after" versions.

    Are the reasons the same? Lack of urgency; lack of true technological advances that would/could/should be installed on older ships; times of plenty allowing for the building of optimal designs whenever new tech does emerge?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. urbandefault

    urbandefault Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How about this: The E returned after her 5 year mission in the same condition Steve Austin did after his test flight crash. Starfleet said, "We can rebuild her. We have the technology ... " . :techman:
     
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  15. BillJ

    BillJ History’s Greatest Monster Premium Member

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    I just figured "refit" was PR. The ship is totally new, outside a few components.
     
  16. Mark_Nguyen

    Mark_Nguyen Commodore Commodore

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    The older trek RPG ship recognition manuals, and Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise, also support a gradual upgrade. Hey, we've got new nacelles. Oh, the old pylons won't support them that well? Swap 'em. Ahh, we'll have to rebuild engineering too, AND all its adjacent areas, to support that fancy schmancy new warp core. It extends all the way up the impulse deck, so that's gotta go too.. Oh, we've upgraded the computers and will be getting newer torpedo launchers, so keep rebuilding the saucer and neck. And... we've run out of paint. We didn't really NEED it anyway, so leave it. Good? Good.

    At least one of the fan film continuations supported the idea that the upgrades started before they finished their five year mission, too. As it stands, the ship's sets (and uniforms) changed significantly even during the three years we saw, to say nothing of "The Cage", so it's more than reasonable IMO to see the Enterprise as a constant work in progress, with those eighteen months being a critical visual overhaul at least outwardly.

    Mark
     
  17. psCargile

    psCargile Captain Captain

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    Does anyone but me see a gradual refit/upgrade as showing an incredible lack of planning and incompetence by Starfleet? Yes, there will be unknown engineering problem encountered, but the engineers are going to know the structural requirements of the nacelles, and any other component. It's a sorry theory.
     
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  18. Ithekro

    Ithekro Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No. It happens in real life as well. Something that should work, doesn't because the designers didn't consult the engineers, who didn't consult the officers who didn't consult the chiefs, who knew better.

    Just look at battleship design from the 1890s to 1920 or so. You will see a lot of what seem like really dumb mistakes, especially between 1905 and 1915. Fire Control lookout tower placed behind the first smoke stack....on a coal powered ship? Sometimes there is a several year long learning curve when you start to introduce new concepts or technologies into ship design. So it would be out of place to have Starfleet have to gradually refit the Constitution-class if they are basically the first ship to get these new engines and associated systems, while originally planning to still keeping the original hull intact.
     
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  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    And that's the other pertinent question. Did the TMP refit actually spearhead anything? Or was Kirk's ship simply seriously behind the technology curve (and the haute couture in general) because of having been stranded in the far frontier for five years?

    Perhaps Starfleet was already building modern stuff (the Reliant appears on the "Court Martial" registry chart at least) and had to make this desperate bid to shoehorn the new tech into older ships when the Organian Treaty set limits on keels / the Great Recession of 2271 made laying of keels impossible / warp science made advances and the TOS engines were found fundamentally faulty, doing worse at warp 14+ than the new ones would do at warp 7.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  20. Ithekro

    Ithekro Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That question is one that can't be functionally answered without more details of the situation of the 2260s being provided or more information about the technology of the Federation and Starfleet from that time period. We might get that from Discovery, but that is supposedly set in the 2250s. All we functionally know about Starfleet ships in the 2260s is that every one of the Starships we encounter are basically the same external configuration to USS Enterprise. We encounter....seven or eight other Constitutions visually in the show now since the CG upgrade. Intrepid, Constellation, Defiant, Exeter, Potemkin, Lexington, Excalibur, and Hood.

    By the 2280s we see I believe at least three refit style Constitutions. One, possibly two, unnamed ones in Spacedock, and than the two USS Enterprises.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2017