Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Kenny, May 18, 2012.
Nice links. Thanks.
The evidence convinces me to agree that the Enterprise is Star Ship Class (from dedication plaque), Constitution subclass (from view screen). Back to my previous example:
The sub-class was the Ronald Reagan subclass, so officially, the USS George H.W. Bush is a Nimitz-class, Ronald Reagan subclass aircraft carrier. At a quick glance, all 10 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers look generally similar even though there is over 3 decades between the first and the tenth covering three sub-classes.
I think the connection between “Constitution” and “1700” can be inferred by the canonical use of the term “Constitution Class”. To say otherwise you have to either believe the ships aren’t numbered successively, which I think is stupid and not likely the intention - advanced, starfaring navies are not going to be fooled by what number you paint on the hull - or Constitution is not a ship like Enterprise, but the two just so happen to share that phaser design. That last one is more sensible in my mind - You’d think that if the staff were trying to link those phasers with Enterprise, the art would have said Enterprise. If they were trying to portray a bigger fleet documented in a technical publication, it would say some other ship. But the die is cast. Whatever was the original intent - Enterprise class, Star Ship Class, or Constitution class - it no longer matters. It is Constitution class now, and the only finesse is fitting in “Star Ship Class”, which was right there as big as hell, every episode.
I equate "Starship" and Starship Class from TOS to be the equivalent to the British use of Ship of the Line. Trek does have a lot of Hornblower borrowing after all. In the modern US Navy, the ship of the line is the Aircraft Carrier so the term Starship is more equivalent to that (not to mention nearly all the ship names were Carrier names). At the time Star Trek was in production, we had at least 5 Classes of Aircraft Carrier in service (Essex, Midway, Forrestal, Kitty Hawk, and Enterprise, with the John F. Kennedy being considered either a separate class or a subclass of Kitty Hawk and the Nimitz was laid down the summer between seasons 2 and 3). However, due to their budget, Star Trek seemed focused on only have one ship design and one class. The same models were used to represent all the ships we see (with the 11 foot Enterprise model and the AMT kit being the only ones to appear as other ships). We never see a different design in TOS. But that has a real world equivalent in the Aircraft Carrier. Because the NImitz class was in production for so long, after Enterprise was decommissioned in 2012, it was the only class in service until the George H. W. Bush was commissioned 5 years later.
Modern US Navy ships are not often referred to by their class, but their number. On all the patches, uniforms, hats, etc., all the aircraft carriers are either CV or CVN (for nuclear) so it kind of makes sense to lump all ships like the Enterprise under the umbrella of Starship. Especially if they were all the same design. When our Navy restarted in 1797, we had Frigates and they didn't really distinguish between the different classes (and we started out with 2). What Star Trek eventually did was make the named class more important, but the TOS production focused on the role label of Starship (it was only Starship "class" on the dedication plaque).
"Starship class" being similar to "Ship of the Line" or perhaps "Cruiser class" really is the way to go, not just within TOS but across the Trek board...
That the Constitution would be NCC-1700 is an idea I'm ready to ditch at first opportunity, it having no real canon backing. Were it, say, NCC-1000 instead, a later batch could easily be just a few dozen ships strong, between NCC-1700 and NCC-30, say (with the atrocious attrition rate witnessed in TOS soon paring that down to "a dozen like her"). Or even from NCC-1700 to NCC-1770, so that we wouldn't have to think that the Defiant was of yet another distinct batch. Quite a few pieces of military hardware have been built in that fashion, with an amusingly anachronistic late batch produced instead of a proper modern successor simply because this made good use of existing spares or other production resources, or simplified fleetwide logistics, or because such overcapacity existed that there was no reason to scale down the old even when introducing the new.
Of course, instead of a late batch of the larger Constitution class, Kirk's "a dozen like her" Constitution bunch could also be a subclass of an original NCC-1000 -era design that carried some other name altogether. Or, for all we care, both NCC-1000 and NCC-1700 could have been named Constitution, and could even have been one and the same ship, so radically modernized that a new registry was warranted at recommissioning but the name carried over.
Just to help muddy the waters , here's a concept I recall reading a few years ago.
In this concept, there is the designation Heavy Cruiser, which refers solely to a hull design, i.e., the primary saucer, dorsal neck, roughly cylindrical engineering hull, and two warp drive units on long struts. The Mk "X" denoted the equipment that was installed in that hull. There were explorers, for instance, potentially with fewer weapons and better sensor suites. I can't recall the other types that were listed, but it let's say it was something on the other of combatants, having more firepower and defenses, priority response ships, with faster drivers, etc.
This may or may not have anything to do with the concept of what a "starship" is. Given the "12 like her" line, however, it would seem likely that starship would refer not to the hull, but to the mission outfitting.
The point of all this is that, in this paradigm, you could have a number of ships with the same hull but which were outfitted for different missions. Personally, I tend to not prefer this notion. I'm an old school tech guy who really likes FJ and his paradigm. Nonetheless, I have to admit that this can explain a lot of issues. 1017 could be the same hull with less defensive and offensive equipment, for instance. Instead of 4 of the most powerful ships in the fleet having been brought together to test M-5, there might have been a cross-section of different mission types to represent a typical fleet configuration.
By the way, if anybody can point me to the originals for this information, I'd be thankful. My memory says that it might have been something from Jeffries, but I'm not 100% on that, and it could have been just some fan speculation.
That is a theory that has merit. If you look at the US Navy you will find that even class ships are never identical. However we are left with at TV show that used the same model for different ships. It gets worse when you consider
how many ships the Reliant, Grissom, and Excelsior models ended up representing in the other series. I tend to assume that in Trek that they left the hull design static and changed the internal configuration (weapon power, sensor types, etc.). Sort of like how the US Navy (or probably any Navy) doesn't change the hull below the waterline. The only inkling we get is that the command chair on the Lexington was different (The Ultimate Computer) so if that was different, who knows what else about the internal configuration might be different.
For those keeping track, there are 5 canon variations to the Constitution Class (there might be a few more if you fully research all the changes to the 11 foot model, but most were very minor). There is the 1st Pilot (and actually this one is more based on the 33 inch model which had the unique aft end caps on the nacelles where the 11 foot had blank end caps, so most just graft that detail from the 33 inch onto the 11 foot design since it was a visible detail in the episode), the 2nd Pilot (which was reused as stock footage throughout the series), the Series refit, the Movie Refit, and the Ent-A refit (some of the details changed and they expanded the deflector grid on the bottom of the secondary hull - the model had to be repainted in some way for each of its 3 film appearances, but the changes were made for Star Trek VI). One of the standing assumptions (which was made canon in TNG) is that the Republic was retired before TOS and was serving as a training ship and remained in that status (and in an older state) before being retired to museum status.
To add to that, the CGI model for the remastered episodes was given some subtle variety when it portrayed the ships of the adversary force in "The Ultimate Computer".
On the other hand, the idea that the Republic would be of the Constitution class, or even distantly related to it, is one of those "standing assumptions" with no canon basis.
There is plenty to be gleaned from naval history as regards class identity and the like. But we could also turn to the future, and speculate that the starships we see are mere shells that can be switched from mission to mission relatively trivially, perhaps just by pushing a few buttons. Press A for a dispatch cruiser suited for milk runs to Rigel with 200 crew. Press B for a deep space exploration vessel with 230 researchers in addition to the 200 crew. Press C for a frigate that can bring down Klingon combatants with an affordable/expendable crew of 130. Press D for turning the thing into a drone. Etc.
We thus need not sweat the specifics of the ship: "Constitution class" may well be a purely bureaucratic conceit that easily covers everything we ever see, up to the E-A, while "starship class" is in fact a far more informative indicator of the specs and status of the hull NCC-1701 during Kirk's 5YM.
I don't think it is quite as simple as hitting a button. More like a multi-month refit at a starbase. But I think they ships are configurable. We see Enterprise change a few times during TOS. A few times it changed and changed back.
As for Republic, the registry was mentioned in dialog and seen again in Star Trek VI and then Republic was mentioned as a training ship in DS9 (one that hadn't left the Sol system in 50 years, which would be 30 years after Star Trek VI). So I think it is safe to link that long lasting Republic serving as a training vessel to the one last Constitution Class ship that Picard mentions in Relics. Republic being a Constitution Class ship is consistent with all the mentions of it and is not any more odd than Constellation having the registry NCC-1017. Constellation was obviously a Constitution Class ship. So that part of things really blows any consistency out of the water for the registry numbers. After that having Constitution Class ships with lower registry numbers in the 13XX and 16XX range doesn't seem out of place at all. All because when they made The Doomsday Machine they thought 1017 looked better than 1710 and were too lazy or concerned with budget to create a different number (even though they had to make the name decal). So in light of Constellation, I think worrying about 1371 or 1672 or 1831 seems pointless as it just further outlines a seemingly random pattern all the subsequent productions mimicked.
I think the question we really need to ask is how they use class in Star Trek. Is it a group of ships built to the same design, or does it include older ships upgraded to match the new class? Or is it the design. We are given lots of behind the scenes references to the TOS Enterprise being Constitution Class and then a big damage printout in Star Trek VI labeled as Constitution Class (even though it is an updated design). So it is clear that even a redesign doesn't change the class of a ship (and we can surmise that a new ship built to that design would still be of that class designation. So that means to me that a class is a group of ships that originates with a single design, even if that design changes over the years. Star Trek doesn't seem to use sub-class, so that could explain it and be something to add to how class is used in canon. The closest we get to subclass is how the Miranda class is considered with several variations to the model that are listed as Soyuz Class. And then we have the dual designation of the Enterprise as both Starship class and Constitution Class. This could indicate a progression to a differnt use where the ship type was listed as class in the early 23rd century and a migration to dropping that and adopting a class and subclass. Or, the Soyuz class was a redesign of the Miranda and no ships were converted (at least not until after the class was established. It is confusing to wade through all the fun production discrepancies to figure this out. Though the USS John F. Kennedy suffers from a similar issue where half the time it is listed as its own class and the other half as Kitty Hawk Class. Going back further the Yorktown and Hornet classes had the exact same thing going on (But for a different reason).
To follow up, I found part of what I recall. This was written by T-Negative editor Ruth Berman, partially before and partially as a follow-up to Jein's "The Case of Jonathan Doe Starship," and appeared in T-Negative with Jein's article.
number ship class
NCC-1700 CONSTITUTION MK IX DSC
NCC-1017 CONSTELLATION MK VII IC
NCC-1764 DEFIANT MK IX DSC
NCC-1685 EAGLE MK VIII IC
NCC-1718 ENDEAVOR MK IX DSC
NCC-1701 ENTERPRISE MK IX DSC
NCC-1697 ESSEX MK VIII IC
NCC-1664 EXCALIBUR MK VIII IC
NCC-1672 EXETER MK VIII IC
NCC-1647 FARRAGUT MK VIII SC
NCC-1703 HOOD MK IX DSC
NCC-1868 HORNET MK X DSC
NCC-1631 INTREPID MK VII IC
NCC-1732 KONGO MK IX DSC
NCC-1866 LAFAYETTE MK X DSC
NCC-1709 LEXINGTON MK IX DSC
NCC-1702 POTEMKIN MK IX DSC
NCC-1371 REPUBLIC MK VI SC
NCC-1865 TASHIK-SOTRA MK X DSC
NCC-1623 VALIANT MK VII IC
NCC-1717 YORKTOWN MK IX DSC
(Classes given in the format of the "Space Seed" diagram. Abbreviations: DSC/deep space cruiser; IC/interstellar cruiser; SC/space cruiser.)
Boldface above is my addition. As far as I can tell, except for Jein's registry number sophistry, this is entirely Berman's speculation. What I do like about it is that the Enterprise is a deep space cruiser, i.e. Mk IX, presumably the best of the best (although that's as much of a presumption as is Berman's list). In my interpretation, the term "deep space cruiser" would be synonymous with "starship class". It's odd that she lists only 11 deep space cruisers, when one would think there would be 12 or 13 on the list. EDIT: Apparently I can't count. There are indeed 12 Deep Space Cruisers. I'm guessing that Tashik-Sotra is entirely of her own devising; I've never heard that name before as far as I recall.
All that being said, I definitely read something that took this idea at least one level deeper. Maybe it was Berman's original piece, to which this piece is a follow-up. It had more information about the roles of the different Mk missions.
@ChallengerHK One wonders how an "old class J starship" being used as a cadet vessel would fit in that scheme.
That term "starship" has always been a fly in the ointment. My personal speculation has been that there is are two terms, starship, very generic, probably referring to a larger starfaring vessel, and Starship, referring to a specific class. As with so many other ideas, that and $17 will get you a vente latte.
In TOS they tended to use the term spaceship for regular space-going vessels and reserved Starship for those extra special ones like the Enterprise, to the extent that it was the class name, like a power level achievement or something. In this line of thinking it's feasible that more than one ship design might have been covered by this designation.
It's not too far of a stretch to think that as time passed and ships became more and more powerful, more of them fulfilled the criteria of what a Starship was. Eventually Starship became starship as a common descriptive term, synonymous with spaceship from the previous century
Or maybe not
I envision Starships have the ability to travel between stars at the highest warp speeds without refueling (regenerative matter-antimatter reactors) with a full suite of scientific laboratories/facilities, while spaceships have lower warp speed engines, a limited fuel supply to travel between only a few stars or only one and back again, and mission specific. The Starship needs a vast amount of hull space (i.e. the engineering hull for the power systems and a large primary hull for scientific labs/facilities plus room for large crews.)
I like that - really earns the name STARship
And we directly know that more than one design is. That is, unless we assume that the old Archon was of the same design as Kirk's ship... And once we accept that one older design warranted being called starship, we lose the right to insist that only Kirk's ship type would have been entitled to the starship designation in Kirk's time. Any era would feature older and newer ships in a mix.
Certainly Kirk seems to think the Archon was a powerful vessel already, and is amazed that Landru could have hurt her with tractor beams.
This need not mean anything one way or another. Perhaps Starfleet reached the threshold level for a "real starship" a century ago already, and Archon is one of the big powerhouses, although in a Fleet that has a lower percentage or a lower number of those than Kirk's has. Or perhaps older ships were markedly inferior yet still generally good enough to oppose most tractor beam attacks, meaning Archon could have been the the dregs of the dregs for her day, not necessarily the cream of the cream, and the usage of "starship" only got narrowed down in Kirk's time.
Trek outside TOS/TAS does not much complicate this. ENT is full of starships and has a shortage of mere spaceships - but only a true starship of the day could have gone to deep space at all, while any alien vessel would have been more than the match of the hero starship and therefore eligible for the designation, too. It's only the 24th century shows that call for us to accept the erosion of the terminology, with Sisko deadpanning in "Vortex" that his runabout is a "Federation starship"...
A century old starship should be far less powerful then a Constitution class ship.
Again, let's look at how the US Navy treats ships of different ages and different types. The US Navy (not the Continental Navy of the Revolution) started out with 3 Frigates of 2 designs. They added 3 more Frigates which extended things to 3 designs (with United States, Constitution, and President forming the top tier). Before long we caught up with the British and had ships of the line. Constitution and United States made it through the early wars and age related rot and were refitted to continue to serve in an active capacity for the first 50 years of their service. Then came a technology change and both ships were demoted to training vessels. Their commanders ceased to be captains. only Constitution made it through the Civil War and after serving in a training and support capacity for another 16 years, was retired to receiving ship duty (meaning docked permanently and used as barracks, even to the extent of having a "barn" built over her deck). At 100, she was moved back to where she was built and turned into a museum ship. The only ship to do so and remain in the Navy.
Meanwhile, the age or steam and iron caused a lot of fast progress and ships went form being rated by the number of guns (40, give or take 10 for a Frigate and up to 100 for a ship of the line), to the size of the guns. By the end of the 19th century, our modern ship times started to take shape. Destroyers, cruisers, and the mighty battleships (including some called dreadnaughts). The battleship was queen and reigned through WWII. During WWII, combat changed. The aircraft which had been so ineffective during WWI had come into its own and the ships that carried them rose to prominence. At Pearl Harbor the Pacific battleship fleet was decimated, while the carrier fleet was intact. In the first battles of WWII, the carrier proved to be the new queen of the fleet. After WWII they examined which carrier designs worked the best and returned to an accidental design. The Lexington class carriers (originally to be built as cruisers with one to be named Constitution) were fast and strong and coupled with the new deck design pioneered on the Midway class, provided the foundation for the next generation of carrier. No new battleships were built and the newest 4 continued to served in support roles in many post WWII conflicts until the advent of other weapons that made their great guns obsolete.
In terms of specific ships, Constitution and her sisters were the first choice assignment, a few years later it was ships like Pennsylvania, then Monitor and Merrimack, then Olympia, then Arizona, then Iowa should have, but Midway took her crown. Then Farragut, Kitty Hawk, Enterprise, and Nimitz.
Translate this into Star Trek and you have the NX class, then Daedelus, then an unknown period before the Constitution, then Excelsior, then Ambassador, the Galaxy, then Sovereign. And terminology changes. Like the old British navy term, first rate ship, in Star Trek it was Starship during the mid 23rd century (and an unknown period before that). The modern British navy no longer uses that term, but the idea is still there. In the US Navy that big change was from Battleship to Aircraft Carrier in WWII. Before WWII the pinacle of a Navy career was command of a Battleship. After the war it was a carrier. In Star Trek that pinacle of a Starfleet career would be whatever the top of the line ship of the day was. For TOS, it was the Constitution Class, for the movie era it was the Excelsior Class, for TNG it was the Galaxy class. And like the adoption of the Enterprise Insignia fleetwide, they also expanded the use of the word starship, with Reliant proudly displaying that on her sides. The elevated status of the term gave way in favor of specific classes of ships. The US Navy had seen a similar change.
WW2 was the change-over period where the BattleShip lost it's importance and the carrier took center stage. The fact that planes of that time can deliver ordinance MUCH further than what ever a BattleShip could deliver cemented it's position in naval history.
Pre WW1, WW1, and the inter-war years was when the BattelShip reigned supreme.
That is what I said. I can only assume you confused WWII and WWI. I never use WW1 or WW2.
Separate names with a comma.