Worst command decisions by Captain James T. Kirk

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Gary7, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. Henoch

    Henoch Fleet Captain Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2018
    Location:
    Back on the Shelf
    Yes, Terrell should have landed on CA7 if CA6 was blown up, unless CA5's orbit changed so much that CA5 and CA7 switched orbits, then CA5 became CA7 and landing on CA6 becomes landing on CA5. :wtf:
     
  2. Push The Button

    Push The Button Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Location:
    Smithfield, Rhode Island USA
    Had Spock been Reliant’s science officer, it would have taken him about ten seconds of scanning to conclude that something wasn’t quite right in the Ceti Alpha system. And apparently unlike Chekov and Kyle, Spock would have remembered that Enterprise left Khan and his people on CA5 fifteen years earlier. And no doubt this fact would have been known by the Genesis project staff and Federation personnel tasked with selecting the test site, and certainly Captain Terrell would have been in the loop as well.

    I love TWOK, but this has always been a huge flaw in the story.
     
    ZapBrannigan and Lance like this.
  3. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    The planet that exploded was actually Ceti Alpha IV, but when Joachim handed Khan the PADD with readouts of the destruction, Khan was accidentally holding it upside-down and misread it. He kept on repeating the number wrong for the next 14 years and no one wanted to correct him. His was a superior intellect, you know.
     
    trekshark likes this.
  4. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Location:
    Parsippany, New Jersey, USA
    I don't have much trouble believing that Khan's party being on Ceti Alpha V wasn't generally known. Just as Earth's authorities didn't want to reveal to a war-torn populace that 70-80 supermen had survived and were unaccounted for, I can believe that Starfleet didn't want to let it be known that Khan was rediscovered. It's pretty obvious that Terrell was never told. Whether through bureaucratic inefficiency or paranoid secrecy, I don't know.

    The thing I don't get is how so many people think that Kirk was acting outside his authority in choosing to put Khan on Ceti Alpha V. Making decisions like that was totally in his authority as Captain.
     
    Timo likes this.
  5. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2014
    Well it would have been a court martial for McGivers and a course at a re-education centre for Khan's goons! Plus Kirk probably knew they'd eventually escape and start a revolution inside the Federation somehow so it was best to let them linger on a virgin planet out in space where it would be at least three hundred years before they became a threat to Starfleet Command!
    JB
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    What motivation would Kirk have for checking up on the castaways, though? They were dropped off with the very purpose of not having to worry about them any longer. Did Kirk check on Harry Mudd to see if the scoundrel really was attending his therapy sessions? Did Kirk make rounds on the Malurian system every January to see whether it was still missing? It just wouldn't have been Kirk's task to worry about things he had already dealt with.

    Yes, Spock in "Space Seed" muses that it might be interesting to revisit the place at some point, and he and Kirk then chuckle at the very idea - neither of them is actually planning on doing it, not the least because both are likely to be dead of old age by the time specified, a century on!

    Except not. People probably think that star systems are a set of concentric rings with a big marble or three at the center and smaller marbles riding on the rings. But in space, there are no such rings: telling whether a planet is V or VI or XXI or II just isn't possible at a glance. Except, you know, if you have a booklet saying that VI is the desert one.

    If Venus suddenly went missing, who would notice? Certainly not anybody flying a Starfleet starship. Those don't have to mind any other planets besides the one they are aiming at; they would zero in on Earth if that was their goal, and Venus be damned. Even if Earth were a few million miles to the left of where it should be, because all that would take to correct would be a light tap on the engine controls.

    Anyway, we know that Kirk never actually scans systems before or even after entering. The first warning to him of all the planets in a system having been eaten by a space monster is the rubble scraping the paint off his ship, deep (former) insystem...

    Marooning of folks used to be a pseudo-humane way of killing them back in the days of sail. Generally, nobody would arrive within the brief remaining lifetime of the castaway, who would be lucky indeed to have fresh water to drink, or the right balance of animal life around him so that he'd be on the top rather than the bottom of the food chain. The exceptions, the ones who lived to tell the story, were those dropped off at well-known replenishment islands because those making the drop could not be bothered to go anywhere else.

    Castaways in Trek have it much worse: the planets are farther apart, the making of signal bonfires much more difficult, and while there's some space traffic, we learn right off the bat that nobody will pick up the Columbia "survivors" for two decades from a planet where well-provisioned humans might expect to survive for perhaps two years! Khan was supposed to die on that planet; whether any of his kids would survive to make grandkids was uncertain at best; and the odds of somebody stumbling onto the place were only going to decrease with time, Kirk supposedly marooning the superman in the very same region of space where the hilarious hijinks of the episode generally took place - an area formerly studied but now long abandoned by Earth/Federation spacecraft.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. Tarek71

    Tarek71 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    Anyone with a starship that has sensors would notice. And it would be immediately obvious. There dont need to be "concentric rings". You could tell all the planets apart very easily. There would be no mistaking Jupiter for Saturn or Earth for Mars. They have mapped these systems, and there is no way they could be going to a planet they already know the location, orbit and distance of and not notice that it had blown up and no longer intact in it's known position. How did you think they navigate to particular planets? To say nothing of the immense planetary debris that they couldn't have missed either. There is no way this could have happened.
     
    trekshark likes this.
  8. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    Location:
    The Enterprise's Restroom
    The flaw to me is in Khan and Chekov recognizing each other at all. Let's say the Khan incident is one of those things kept under wraps, and Kirk and crew decide not to have revealed the 'colony' in official logs. Well, if Chekhov arrives later on the Enterprise, he doesn't ever know anything about Khan or Ceti Alpha 5... ammend the dialogue so that Khan instead recognises the Starfleet insignia on Pavel and Clark's spacesuits, and says "Do you know a Captain Kirk?" "Admiral Kirk? Yes, it was on his orders we were sent here." "AD-miral Kirk?", and the rest just carries on as per. :)
     
  9. Tarek71

    Tarek71 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    Usually you hear below decks explanations for Chekov. He was there but like hundreds of crew members who were there on the ship, we didnt know him at that point. So that doesn't bother me too much.

    We are supposed to believe they are intensely, deep scanning this planet to see if it meets the conditions outlined for being a candidate for the Genesis Project, and they dont notice that this is the wrong planet?

    They didnt scan the star system on approach, missed the enormous planetary debris field of the destroyed CA6 (which is where they were going) and instead just whizz right by and think CA5 is CA6? Impossible.
     
  10. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2001
    Location:
    Burlington, VT, USA
    Given the variety of cosmic anomalies we've been exposed to in the Trekverse, I don't know that anything really qualifies as 'impossible'.

    It might, however, seem 'highly unlikely'.

    IIRC the novelization basically posits that the E's trip to drop Khan off was under wraps (which I can buy), and that the data that tipped off the Genesis folks that CA might be a good place to go originated from what was listed as probe records (which may or may not have been a cover for the E's trip there, I don't recall). Reliant did note that what they were seeing didn't match the previous report, but I believe they wrote it off as the probe simply not having captured accurate data for one reason or another. Additionally it's made clear the Reliant crew is basically suffering long-term fatigue from the tedium of their mission and...well, one thing leads to another.
    This may not reflect that well on Captain Terrell et al., but I don't think we're going to find a solution to this issue that does. Mistakes were made.

    TL;DR "This may not have been exactly the planet we were expecting, but it's close enough to merit a look since we're in the neighborhood anyway and this mission is already driving us crazy."
     
    Lance likes this.
  11. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Location:
    Parsippany, New Jersey, USA
    I came up with a theory about what happened to Ceti Alpha VI a couple of years ago, which I detailed in this thread.

    Basically, the explosion of Ceti Alpha VI was big enough to disrupt the orbit of Ceti Alpha V slightly, but not big enough to scatter all its planetary debris to escape velocity. Large parts of Ceti Alpha VI were drawn back in by the gravity and formed a loose cloud of remains close to the old size of the planet. If the Reliant wasn't scanning Ceti Alpha VI specifically, but just looking for its rough placement in the system, it might've looked like the planet was normal at first glance.
     
    Lance likes this.
  12. Tarek71

    Tarek71 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    CA6 was their destination. Even if Federation sensors cant discriminate a slowly coalescing debris field from the intact planet (when even our equipment easily could), they would certainly have seen it when they arrived and saw that the planet had been destroyed. They would certainly not have mistaken CA5 for 6.
     
  13. Henoch

    Henoch Fleet Captain Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2018
    Location:
    Back on the Shelf
    I think Chekov was the Science Officer. That may explain the mistake...:whistle:
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
    JonnyQuest037 and Lance like this.
  14. T'Bonz

    T'Bonz Romulan Curmudgeon Administrator

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2000
    Location:
    Across the Neutral Zone
    So I guess it was the result of Russian collusion?
     
    Lance likes this.
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2003
    Only if specifically scanning. And we know starships don't do that - c.f. Kirk always getting surprised while already insystem.

    Which is the very reason our sidekicks would go to the planet that looked like CA VI to them.

    Not very well, or else there would be no need to send the Reliant. At best, they know there's a desert planet in the system, and the sidekicks are to get the dirt on that, and that only.

    Why would they go to a "location"? They are going to a planet. And if they do scan the system, they go to the right planet (the one that looks like CA VI), and orbits be damned. If they don't scan, well, eventually they do terminal homing. Which then takes them to the right planet, or in this case, the wrong one.

    That's the thing, now isn't it? How do you think they do it? By punching in a set of coordinates, flying there on automatic, and then looking around to see if they got to the right place?

    Extremely primitive spacecraft (say, ours) might do that. And would end up destroyed or lost, in the Trek environment. Trek spacecraft scan. But not the entire universe - only that which is needed for terminal guidance. If there's a choice between a set of coordinates and the place where the target actually is, the latter gets chosen. Should there be commentary on the two not being identical? Only if this is a rare occurrence, I guess. And there's no reason to think it would be.

    Why not? What's debris to them? No set of Trek heroes ever shows interest towards debris, unless it is somehow relevant to their mission. (See this movie, say: suddenly the fact that the Regula system has its own superdense nebula becomes relevant, while previously there was no mention of this.) The Reliant need not mind debris, or coordinates - she's a starship, capable of going where she must wholly regardless of debris or orbital mechanics.

    Just like an automobile gets to places wholly regardless of coordinates or topological data, really. If you have a navigator in your car, you nevertheless do terminal homing in the end - and if the red brick house you are looking for is fifty meters to the left of what the navigator tells you, you utterly ignore the navigator. And the pile of rubble that is't a red brick house (any longer).

    Except it happens all the time, both in Trek and ITRW. And in the general case, there's no harm - planets shift orbit willy-nilly, or data is faulty, but starships cope.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Tarek71

    Tarek71 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    Timo

    They would be "specifically scanning". That's what navigation is. They are going to a location. The known location of the already charted CA6. That's what navigation is. They are going to use those sensors to scan the system on approach to the most up to date information on it's present position. If Mars had been blown up, and you are looking for Mars you wont confuse Earth for it. Instead, right in the orbital plane where they know Mars should be there will instead be a debris field with a total mass very similar to Mars with the other very different planets still intact.

    Planets are an immense distance apart, have different masses, orbital speeds, volumes, densities, axial tilts, different rates of rotations, atmospheric densities and pressures. There are dozens and dozens of metrics that can easily distinguish any two planets. You just arent going to confuse one for the other. Earth is tens of millions of miles closer to the parent star, far larger mass, much thicker, denser atmosphere, etc. They would say, "well theres Earth, but Mars has been destroyed".

    Happens all the time? I know. Needs of the plot do trump things like this frequently. We call that suspension of disbelief. But it's still BS.
     
    J.T.B. likes this.
  17. MAGolding

    MAGolding Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2015
    Suppose your automobile GPS is directing you to 1313 13th street and you are told the destination is a red brick house but when you get there you see a pile of rubble with many red bricks and beside it at 1311 and at 1315 13th street there are red brick houses. Are you going to assume that 1311 or 1315 13th street is your destination or are you going to wonder what happened and suspect that possibly the destination house has been destroyed?

    You claim that planets being out of position happens all the time in Trek and in the real world.

    In the real world planets don't shift orbit willy-nilly, and data recorded by starships should be precise. Finding a planet a few million miles out of its calculated position would be a big deal. Of course a starship can easily cope with reaching a planet a few million miles out of its calculated position. But considering all the problems that Kirk's Enterprise had with menaces that destroyed planets, finding a system with a planet out of position should have rang alarm bells both literal and figurative.

    The most plausible explanation for the fate of Ceti Alpha VI I can think of was that some sort of planet destroying menace worked on it for a period until it exploded as part of the menace's procedure, and then the menace went to another planet in the system to work on. So apparently it takes the menace at least 15 years to get a planet ready to explode, which seems reasonable.

    So finding a planet at least a few million miles out of its calculated position should have automatically caused them to scan the rest of the system for anomalies, and eventually discover that one of the planets was missing, which should have caused them to send an emergency message to Starfleet Command saying that it was possible that there was another planet destroying menace on the loose. So the movie would then have become a "The Changeling"/"the Doomsday Machine"/"The Immunity Syndrome" type of story as the Reliant sought to find whatever destroyed Ceti Alpha VI.
     
    J.T.B. likes this.
  18. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2001
    Location:
    Burlington, VT, USA
    IIRC, in "To Reign in Hell", Spock speculates that it might have been a rogue micro black hole that caused Ceti Alpha VI to go boom.

    Given the crazy things we've seen in the franchise though, who knows...
     
  19. Tarek71

    Tarek71 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2007
    Of course. They can scan the entire system on approach and see the locations of the star itself, all its planets, dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, any ships that might be in the area, etc. Immediately, some things wrong. CA6 is gone and an immense debris field of similar mass and composition is in the orbital plane where the planet was previously identified to orbit.

    Navigation requires continuous 360 degree situational awareness. Detection of ships, debris, particles, asteroids, etc that might cross your flight path require 24/7/365 scanning. To rendezvous with a particular planet that's travelling around its star at 10s of thousands of KPH you have to make very precise scans and calculations to adjust your speed and course (slight adjustments in pitch, yaw, etc) to reach it and enter orbit.

    You will not confuse Earth for Venus or Neptune for Uranus. Not going to happen.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  20. Henoch

    Henoch Fleet Captain Premium Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2018
    Location:
    Back on the Shelf
    "Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova, and that'd end your trip real quick, wouldn't it?" - Han Solo to Luke Skywalker
     
    JonnyQuest037 and Tarek71 like this.