Starfleet is a Space Navy (military fleet)

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Baxten, Mar 11, 2017.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Baxten

    Baxten Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Feb 25, 2017

    A space navy is a fleet of spacebourne military vessels (spacecraft) and its associated military installations, including bases and outposts, both space-based and surface-based. Note that in modern usage "navy" used alone always denotes a military fleet.

    Keep in mind that real-life navies include non-combat duties too.

    Within this context: Star = Space, Fleet = Navy.


    TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday" (Written by: D.C. Fontana)

    CHRISTOPHER: Must have taken quite a lot to build a ship like this.
    KIRK: There are only twelve like it in the fleet.
    CHRISTOPHER: I see. Did the Navy
    We're a combined service, Captain. . . .​

    The Navy was a clear reference to the U.S. Navy; but combined with what, NASA? That is just the kind of combined service that would make a Space Navy. Not only that but the U.S. Navy already had something called Naval Space Command, which was later merged into Naval Network Warfare Command. This, of course, would correspond to Starfleet Command.

    Additionally, Starfleet Academy, first mentioned in TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", corresponds to a naval college or service academy such as the United States Naval Academy.

    TOS: "Errand of Mercy" (Written by: Gene L. Coon)

    KIRK: [. . .] In addition to military aid, we can send you specialists, technicians. . . .
    [. . .]
    KIRK: [. . .] I'm a soldier, not a diplomat. . . .​

    TOS: "Obession" (Written by: Art Wallace, Revised final draft by: Gene Roddenberry)

    KIRK: Very commendable, Ensign. What was your impression of the battle?
    GARROVICK: I don't understand, sir.
    KIRK: I'm asking for your military appraisal of the techniques used against the creature.​

    TOS: "Space Seed" (Teleplay by: Gene L. Coon and Carey Wilber, Story by: Carey Wilber, Second revised final draft teleplay by: Gene Roddenberry)

    MCCOY: Very impressive. Are we expecting a fleet admiral for dinner?​

    Memory Alpha: Starfleet ranks

    In modern U.S. Navy ranking, Fleet Admiral is a special rank that is assigned during wartime only. . . .​

    TOS: "The Day of the Dove" (Written by: Jerome Bixby)

    MCCOY: How many more men must die before you two [Kirk and Spock] begin to act like military men instead of fools? (leaves)​

    TOS: "Catspaw" (Written by: Robert Bloch, Revised final draft by: Gene Roddenberry)

    DESALLE: Maybe we can't break it, but I'll bet you credits to navy beans we can put a dent in it.​

    Wikipedia: Navy bean

    It is commonly known as the "Navy Bean" due to its use as a staple of United States Navy rations in the 19th century.​

    TOS: "Court Martial" (Teleplay by: Don M. Mankiewicz and Steven W. Carabatsos, Story by: Don M. Mankiewicz)

    Merriam-Webster: Court-martial
    • a court consisting of commissioned officers and in some instances enlisted personnel for the trial of members of the armed forces or others within its jurisdiction.
    . . .​
    • a military court : a court for people in the military who are accused of breaking military law
    Wikipedia: Court-martial

    Most navies have a standard court-martial which convenes whenever a ship is lost.​

    TNG: "The Measure of a Man" (Written by: Melinda M. Snodgrass)

    PHILLIPA: [. . .] A court martial is standard procedure when a ship is lost. I was doing my duty as an officer of the Judge Advocate General.​

    Wikipedia: Judge Advocate General's Corps

    Judge Advocate General's Corps, also known as JAG or JAG Corps, refers to the legal branch or specialty of a military concerned with military justice and military law.​

    This, of course, means that Starfleet is a military organization at all times.

    TNG: "Hide and Q" (Teleplay by: C.J. Holland and Gene Roddenberry, Story by: C.J. Holland)

    PICARD: Why? At our first meeting you seized my vessel. . . .
    [. . .]
    Q: [. . .] Seized my vessel. These are the complaints of a closed mind too accustomed to military privileges. . . .​

    A Galaxy-class vessel has a dedicated battle bridge and phaser range. It's also armed as a warship.


    Star Trek: The Motion Picture

    McCOY: Just a moment, Captain, sir. I'll explain what happened. Your revered Admiral Nogura invoked a little known, and seldom used, reserve activation clause, simpler language, Captain, they drafted me!​

    Second from the left: USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

    USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was a military aircraft carrier and the flagship of the U.S. Navy's Nuclear Task Force One. It can also be seen in Captain Archer's ready room in ENT.

    Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

    CHEKOV (on viewscreen): The order comes from Admiral James T. Kirk.
    DAVID: I knew it! I knew it! All along the military [Starfleet] has wanted to get their han...
    [. . .]
    DAVID: I've tried to tell you before. Scientists have always been pawns of the military [Starfleet].​

    Robert Fletcher’s Costume Design – Forgotten Trek (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

    'OK, if this is going to be the navy, let’s hem them look like the navy' [. . .] "It’s normal in any kind of military organization that you don’t have just one uniform. . . ."​

    Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

    AIDE-DE-CAMP: This briefing is classified. Ladies and Gentlemen, the C-in-C.
    C in C: As you were. . . .
    [. . .]
    MILITARY AIDE: Bill, are we talking about mothballing the Starfleet?​


    aide-de-camp (ād′dĭ-kămp′)
    n. pl. aides-de-camp
    A military officer acting as secretary and confidential assistant to a superior officer of general or flag rank.​

    C in C

    commander in chief
    n. pl. commanders in chief Abbr. CINC or C in C
    1. The supreme commander of all the armed forces of a nation.
    2. The officer commanding a major armed force.
    Military aide: a military assistant.

    Mothballed: a term for a reserve fleet.

    A reserve fleet is a collection of naval vessels of all types that are fully equipped for service but are not currently needed, and thus partially or fully decommissioned. A reserve fleet is informally said to be "in mothballs" or "mothballed". . . .​

    Memory Alpha: Colonel West (the VHS version)

    While identified in dialogue as a "colonel", West wore the uniform of a Starfleet vice admiral [equivalent to lieutenant general and air marshal].​

    His rank strongly indicates the presence of a Space Marine Corps within Starfleet.

    Star Trek: Generations

    19th century naval uniforms.

    DS9: "Rapture"

    WORF: That will not do. Rifkin commands a starship. Protocol requires he be given equal quarters.
    ODO: But he's only a captain.
    WORF: It is naval tradition.​

    DS9: "Behind the Lines"

    DAX: Are you two ever going to be finished?
    NOG: Just a few more minutes, Commander.
    O'BRIEN: That's Captain. It's an old naval tradition. Whoever's in command of a ship, regardless of rank, is referred to as Captain.​

    TNG: "The Enemy"

    PICARD: Commander [Tomalak], both our ships are ready to fight. We have two extremely powerful and destructive arsenals at our command. . . .​

    TNG: "Conundrum" (When the crew of the Enterprise lost memories)

    WORF: I have completed a survey of our tactical systems. We are equipped with ten phaser banks, two hundred and fifty photon torpedoes, and a high capacity shield grid.
    MACDUFF: We're a battleship.
    WORF: It appears so.​

    DS9: "The Sound of Her Voice"

    KASIDY: I'm a civilian. Isn't it awkward having me aboard a warship?
    O'BRIEN: We've had civilians aboard before. It doesn't bother me.​

    TNG: "The Perfect Mate"

    KAMALA: Perhaps the ambassador is right. Perhaps I should remain in my quarters.
    PICARD: I have confidence in the self-control of my crew, Kamala, but there are guests and civilians on board.​

    In other words, Starfleet personnel are not civilians.

    DS9: "Homefront"

    LEYTON: Mister President, we can use the Lakota's transporters and communications system to mobilise every Starfleet officer on Earth in less than twelve hours. We've been preparing for something like this for a long time. We have stockpiles of phaser rifles, personal forcefields, photon grenades, enough to equip an entire army. I can start getting men on the streets immediately.
    JARESH-INYO: What you're asking me to do is declare martial law.​

    DS9: "Paradise Lost"

    SISKO: What you're trying to do is to seize control of Earth and place it under military rule.
    LEYTON: If that's what it takes to stop the Dominion.​

    DS9: "The Way of the Warrior"

    WORF: I have decided to resign from Starfleet.
    O'BRIEN: Resign? What are you talking about?
    WORF: I have made up my mind. It is for the best.
    [. . .]
    SISKO: I'm sorry, Mister Worf, but I can't accept your resignation at this time.​

    Rick Berman Talks 18 Years of Trek In Extensive Oral History

    Berman notes that veterans feel Sisko is "the most believable" as a military commander of the Star Trek captains.​

    DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"

    BASHIR: Sorry to disappoint you. Admiral Ross and his staff will be discussing the exciting military issues.
    [. . .]
    BASHIR: How long has Koval been working for Starfleet?
    ROSS: He's been providing the Federation with critical military intelligence for over a year. . . .​

    DS9: "Siege of AR-558"

    NOG: That soldier over there. You see his necklace? Those are Ketracel white tubes.
    [. . .]
    SISKO: Now you listen to me, Quark, because I'm only going to say this one time. I care about Nog and every soldier under my command. Understood? Every single one.​

    Chief Petty Officer Burke (DS9: "Nor the Battle to the Strong")

    Burke was described in the script as "a badly wounded Starfleet Lieutenant, his uniform soaked with blood - he's BURKE, a seasoned combat veteran of about forty." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)

    Memory Alpha: Chief Petty Officer

    Chief petty officer (CPO) is an enlisted naval rank, a type of military rank used by the service organizations of different cultures.​

    VOY: "Caretaker" (a military-type operation)

    PARIS: I've never seen a Federation starship that could manoeuvre through the plasma storms.
    JANEWAY: You've never seen Voyager. . . .
    [. . .]
    PARIS: What's so important about this particular Maquis ship?
    JANEWAY: My Chief of Security was on board, undercover. . . .​

    VOY: "The Thaw"

    PARIS: This ship [Voyager] was built for combat performance, Harry, not musical performance. Nobody figured we'd be taking any long trips.​

    Dictionary: Warship

    1. a ship built or armed for combat purposes.

    Also called war vessel.​

    Memory Alpha: USS Bellerophon (NCC-74705)

    "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges" writer Ronald D. Moore named the Bellerophon after the HMS Bellerophon, a British warship which served as part of a fleet commanded by Lord Nelson in the early 19th century.​


    VOY: "The Voyager Conspiracy"

    SEVEN: The Captain ordered Commander Tuvok to destroy the array. He fired two tricobalt devices. Are those weapons normally carried on Federation Starships?
    SEVEN: Yet they were part of Voyager's arsenal. Why?
    CHAKOTAY: I can't explain that.
    SEVEN: I can. Neither phasers nor torpedoes are capable of creating a tear in subspace. A tricobalt device is. . . .​

    According to Star Trek: Insurrection, subspace weapons were banned by the Khitomer Accord:

    DANIELS: They've detonated an isolytic burst. A subspace tear is forming.
    RIKER: On screen.
    PERIM: I thought subspace weapons were banned by the Khitomer Accord.
    RIKER: Remind me to lodge a protest.​

    Additionally, Starfleet vessels come equipped with spatial charges, which act as subspatial charges when fired into subspace.

    ENT: "Cold Front"

    TRAVIS: Looks like the Captain's going all out.
    REED: I hope he's not planning to show them the Armory.
    HOSHI: Don't worry, Lieutenant. They didn't look like the types who'd go around stealing military secrets.
    REED: Still, we're not familiar with these species. Tactical systems should be off-limits. . . .​

    Star Trek 2009

    PIKE: [. . .] Enlist in Starfleet.
    KIRK: Enli-- (laughs) You guys must be way down in your recruiting quota for the month.
    PIKE: If you're half the man your father was Jim, Starfleet could use you. You could be an officer in four years. You could have your own ship in eight. You understand what the Federation is, don't you? It's important. It's a peacekeeping and humanitarian armada.​

    Enlist? According to this, it's the Federation that is an armada, not just Starfleet. Armada primarily means armed naval fleet.


    TNG: "Peak Performance" (on Roddenberry's watch)

    PICARD: Starfleet is not a military organisation. Its purpose is exploration.
    [. . .]
    RIKER: I prefer brains over brawn as well. I think it's a waste of effort to test our combat skills. It's a minor province in the make-up of a starship captain.​

    Considering the overwhelming TOS and TNG evidence, on Roddenberry's watch, to the contrary—ridiculous! :)

    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

    GILLIAN: You're not one of those guys from the military, are you? Trying to teach whales to retrieve torpedoes, or some dipsh*t stuff like that?
    [. . .]
    GILLIAN: All right. Who are you? And don't jerk me around any more. I want to know how you know that.
    KIRK: We can't tell you that. ...Please, let me finish. I can tell you that we're not in the military and that we intend no harm towards the whales.​

    It's quite obvious that both, Gillian and Kirk, were referring to the military of her time period.

    VOY: "Living Witness"

    EMH: Voyager wasn't a warship. We were explorers.​

    EMH malfunction?


    ENT: "The Xindi"

    FORREST [Shuttlepod]: (Enterprise in spacedock) Do you think you'll be comfortable with military on board?
    ARCHER: I don't have a problem with non-Starfleet personnel. I'm going to need all the muscle I can get when we cross into the Expanse.

    [. . .]
    REED: Coming from a military family, I've seen men like Hayes all my life.​

    What about the ship's Armory and tactical systems, which were part of the "military secrets" two years earlier in ENT: "Cold Front"?

    Star Trek: Into Darkness

    SCOTT: That's what scares me. This is clearly a military operation. ls that what we are now? Because I thought we were explorers.
    KIRK: Sign for the torpedoes, that's an order.
    SCOTT: Right, well, you leave me no choice but to resign my duties.
    KIRK: Oh, come on, Scotty.
    SCOTT: You're giving me no choice, sir. I will not stand by
    KIRK: You're not giving me much of a choice. Will you just make an exception and sign
    SCOTT: Do you accept my resignation or not?
    KIRK: I do!
    KIRK: I do. You are relieved, Mister Scott.​

    Meanwhile, all of these torpedo tubes in the weapons bay . . . :

    Star Trek: Beyond

    SCOTT: The Federation, sir, Starfleet. We are not a military agency.​

    LOL! How can Starfleet not be a military agency with JAG and court-martial? Dictionaries and encyclopedias exist for a reason.

  2. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

    Aug 23, 2001
    Nuevo México
  3. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 1, 2017
    Starfleet IS a Navy. Is this a matter of dispute?

    There is one Starfleet vessel that breaks the mold a bit...the 1701-D. It's like a city ship and carries families/civilians. This is spoken of as experimental and appears to be the only class of ship to do this.
  4. Spot261

    Spot261 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 16, 2013
    Hi Baxten, welcome to the forums.:beer:

    This subject typically comes up, ooh, once a year or so (along with the question of money in the 24th century, how fast warp engines are and a few other chestnuts) and typically ends up with people splitting hairs but more or less reaching a consensus that yes starfleet is a military but either:

    a) the term is viewed with some distaste in the future
    b) starfleet are using a slightly altered version of the word's definition, given that things do in fact change over time in quite unexpected ways (common usage of "gay" is an example) with "navy" and "military" being more narrowly defined by combat roles than in current usage
    c) starfleet put some degree of spin on their role, emphasising the scientific/diplomatic/exploratory/humanitarian aspects and downplaying the combat/defence/deterrent ones.

    More the Royal Navy c1700s really given that the show was explicitly described in the pre production notes as "Hornblower in Space" and deliberately showed the Ent operating under similar conditions, commonly isolated with a commander acting with a large degree of latitude away from any form of central command in only partially mapped waters.
    somebuddyx and J.T.B. like this.
  5. Kemaiku

    Kemaiku Admiral Admiral

    Dec 23, 2004
    Northern Ireland
    The most up to date production (Star Trek Beyond) has the explicity simple line from Scotty that Starfleet was not a military.

    So, nah.
    somebuddyx and GabyBee like this.
  6. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

    May 10, 2005
    The visitor's bullpen
    The Earth Starfleet (which exists in Archer & Forrest's day) is not the same as the Federation Starfleet. They're two completely different organizations that just happen to have the same name.

    And the Earth Starfleet isn't military (MACOS fulfill all needed military functions), but the Federation Starfleet is.

    As for people like Scotty and Picard claiming that the Federation Starfleet isn't military? Simple: They're wrong.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
  7. 1001001

    1001001 I Like the Nightlife, Baby! Moderator

    Nov 3, 2001
    Beyond the Gilded Cage
    Awesome. We haven't had this argument in 2-3 months....
    Rojixus, Nyotarules, jaime and 4 others like this.
  8. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Mih ssim, mih ssim, nam, daed si Xim. Moderator

    Feb 4, 2002
    Somewhere in Connecticut
    Has it really been that long...? :p
    somebuddyx likes this.
  9. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

    Nov 20, 2012
    Whether or not Starfleet considers being a military its primary purpose, it certainly serves that purpose. Whether we call it that is semantics.
  10. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM, USA
    It is largely about interpretation and emphasis. Police departments have weapons, training, uniforms and hierarchical ranks and yet they're generally seen as distinct from and should be distinct from the military.

    That they have weapons doesn't mean it's a battleship (to be fair 250 torpedoes is a lot but families on board is a big indication against). Macduff's interpretations and statements were highly self-serving and deceptive in order to get military action against his enemies.

    Also from the original series, from the same Kirk who in "Errand of Mercy" identified himself as a soldier and not a diplomat and by the end of the episode seemed to regret that attitude.
    "Whom Gods Destroy"
    "SPOCK: On what, precisely, is our friendship to be based?
    GARTH: Upon the firmest of foundations, Mister Spock. Enlightened self interest. You, Captain, are second only to me as the finest military commander in the galaxy.
    KIRK: That's very flattering. I am primarily an explorer now, Captain Garth."

    Emphasis added. He thinks of himself as capable of military action but that not his or his ship's primary role or mission.

    "Mirror, Mirror"
    "THARN: We believe what you say, Captain Kirk, but our position has not altered. The Halkan Council cannot permit your Federation to mine dilithium crystals on our planet.
    KIRK: We have shown the council historical proof that our missions are peaceful.
    THARN: We accept that your Federation is benevolent at present, but the future is always in question. Our dilithium crystals represent awesome power. Wrongful use of that power, even to the extent of the taking of one life, would violate our history of total peace. To prevent that, we would die, Captain. As a race, if necessary.
    KIRK: I admire your ethics and hope to prove ours."

    From TNG "Yesterday's Enterprise"
    "PICARD: What? Children on the Enterprise? Guinan, we're at war.
    GUINAN: No, we're not. At least, we're not supposed to be. This is not a ship of war. This is a ship of peace."
  11. GabyBee

    GabyBee Captain Captain

    Mar 29, 2010
    "Starfleet is not a military organization; its purpose is exploration." ~ Jean-Luc Picard
  12. cultcross

    cultcross Every lie incurs a debt to the truth Moderator

    Jul 27, 2001
    This teeming womb of kings
    Starfleet is a paramilitary organisation in structure and terminology. It is clearly capable of serving a combat function, and therefore takes the role of a military in time of war (despite constant mentions of various wars invoicing Starfleet we have only really ever seen one, the Dominion War, presented on screen), it is clearly set up for exploration, research, and humanitarian concerns. Far in excess of anything any modern day militaries engage in. They have a whole division dedicated to science, and no specific combat division at all, fanon about Starfleet marines aside. The plot of Star Trek Beyond is heavily centred around this concept, and previous productions have touched on similar ideas - The Wounded springs to mind.
  13. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 1, 2017
    Or here's a better question:

    Is Starfleet fundamentally different than today's large militaries, or the U.S. military?

    I think it could be argued, a solid no.

    Yes, the primary purpose of a military is defense, but what other functions does the military have? Only a very small fraction, personnel wise, of the U.S. military is devoted to combat operations. What do all the supporting branches do when there's no war on? They build infrastructure, bring medicine to developing countries, conduct scientific studies, they EVEN FERRY DIPLOMATS...

    If Picard says that SF isn't a military, it's because he looks down on people of our era as barbarians and wants to disassociate himself from us primitives. He is evolved, remember...
    Nyotarules, BillJ and Mr. Laser Beam like this.
  14. Kemaiku

    Kemaiku Admiral Admiral

    Dec 23, 2004
    Northern Ireland
    They're MiliSplorers.

    You're welcome.
    somebuddyx, cultcross and Spot261 like this.
  15. GabyBee

    GabyBee Captain Captain

    Mar 29, 2010
    The primary purpose of a military is to fight a war - whether real or theoretical.

    Starfleet's primary purpose is exploration. Engaging in interstellar conflicts is, at best, a secondary purpose of Starfleet. By this measurement it is not a military organization.
    cultcross likes this.
  16. Spot261

    Spot261 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 16, 2013
    Not explodiers?
    somebuddyx likes this.
  17. Kemaiku

    Kemaiku Admiral Admiral

    Dec 23, 2004
    Northern Ireland
    HR said that sounded too "aggressive".

    Whoops! can't say "human" resources, that's racist.
    somebuddyx and Spot261 like this.
  18. Spot261

    Spot261 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 16, 2013

    Lets see if you can guess....
  19. Kemaiku

    Kemaiku Admiral Admiral

    Dec 23, 2004
    Northern Ireland
  20. Prax

    Prax Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jan 1, 2017
    That is not true. How many nations today have a military? All of them.

    This may be the case in ancient times before there were standing armies, like the early Roman Republic or Greek city states.

    Every nation has to defend it's borders, even the Federation. It does this by the presence of it's military. Having a military is expensive, but waging war is astronomically more expensive. What happens Everytime another power in star trek makes incursions into Federation space? Do they send the military? They send Starfleet. Starfleet patrols the Federations borders.
    Nyotarules likes this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.