I was watching Star Trek 2: The wrath of Khan tonight and early in the movie, they send the Enterprise because they are the “only ship in the Quadrent”.
I’m assuming they aren’t using the Galaxy Quadrent system that would be used in DS9 and voyager, so I won’t comment on that. However, it seems like that in the movies, they used that excuse an awful lot to get the Enterprise into action. This is particulary evident in ST5 when the Enterprise was in SPACEDOCK and wasn’t even working properly…and yet, “It’s the only ship in the quadrent”. Same thing in Generations. In Star Trek 2, the Enterprise was traveling around at Impulse after leaving spacedock, impling they were still within Solar System when
they were told to go to Regula one.
Assuming this isn’t the writers exhibiting a very limited imagination, I can conclude only one thing.
Starfleet, except for a few notable occasions, is generally limited to about 3 ships at a time. Occasionally when the Borg invade, they manage to scrooge up about 40 or so ships, but for the most part, you never see more then one other Starfleet ship around the Enterprise. That’s the starfleet’s biggest military sucess, that they project the illusion of having an actually fleet when they actually have more like 3 ships in total operating at any one time.
The number of ships Starfleet has and how fast they can travel is dictated by the demands of the story. Got a disaster? Turns out nobody else is in range. Want a cool space battle? Suddenly people are pulling starships out of their shorts.
How’s this for a Star Trek theory (I even worked it into one of my fanfics): In the second pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, Gary Marcus (an old friend of James Kirk) refers to a “little blonde lab technician” he’d introduced Kirk to some years before, and whom Kirk had almost married. That technician was… (drumroll)… Carol Marcus, working as a tech while pursuing her doctorate. Though Kirk didn’t marry her, they did conceive a child together, David, who Carol raised on her own.
I’m not a expert on the subject, but my impression is that by the time frame of ‘The Next Generation’ there are simply more ships in starfleet. Still, I think that there are more starships than the writers imply and the writers are trying to justify why it has to be the Enterprise that has to save the day.
It does seem possible for starfleet to aquire lots of ships in an emergency, but the timeframe of the Borg invasion simply would not be enough to do this. The time required to outfit and crew a vessel for military operations would simply take too long. More likely, the majority of starfleet is usually engaged in activities similar to that of the Enterprise.
If they only have 3 or so ships, why can’t the romulans and klingons conquer the federation quickly? Granted, the Enterprise does have insane luck, but it can only be in one place at a time.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but the original Enterprise wasn’t the flagship of the Federation, was it? I always thought it was an exploration/science vessel. And it was always “the only ship in the quadrant” beacause it was out on the frontier of human space. Most of the Federation’s ships are busy back in the heart of Federation space, like Earth or Vulcan. Way out on the edge, they only have a few ships patrolling a very, very big area.
I don’t think the Enterprise was the flagship of the fleet either, Miller – I’m pretty sure flagships weren’t mentioned at all until TNG.
So far as the OP goes, the only real explanation I can think off the top of my head is that when they say the Enterprise is the only ship in the quadrant, what they mean is that it’s the only starship. The Constitution Class to which the Enterprise belongs was originally labeled just “Starship Class” in the early episodes of TOS so that would imply that they were special in some way… that they were the only ones capable of **routine ** interstellar travel perhaps.
In addition, there were only 13 of them made and at least three or four of them were destroyed in just the three years we saw of the Enterprise’s five year mission. By the time the movie era rolled around, even more could have been destroyed and Starfleet only seemed to have Miranda (the Reliant) and Oberth (Grissom) class vessels with the Excelsior (Excelsior) class in the beginning stages of production to help lighten the load of Starfleet’s workhorse.
Just under a dozen starships (equivalent to battlecruisers?) to patrol a territory as big as the UFP makes for a very thin defense grid although I’m sure each planet has its own planetary defense force (Coast guard) to use if or when Starfleet can’t help out for whatever reason.
A flagship is supposed to carry ‘the admirals flag’, yet only on the odd occasion do we get a admiral on the Enterprise. Not to mention, ‘flagship’ implies ‘fleet action’, which you don’t really get. So far, it’s been ‘Gaggle-cluster of ships’.
They need to do a movie based on Starfleet Command (the board/tactics/strategy game), but that ain’t gonna happen.
I have ‘The Making of Star Trek’, a book from the early 70’s written by the creators of the show, and Starfleet originally had twelve Constitution-class ships, including the Enterprise. Some others were the Intrepid, Lexington, Congo, etc.
We didn’t see most of them, of course. But yeah, that ‘only ship in the quadrant’ thing was poetic license.
I thought space around Earth was divided into four volumes called quadrants, and each quadrant successively divided into small ones, like grids on a map.
Then the Enterprise, which after all, the story is about, is the only ship in the quadrant in which a ship is needed, as the Nimitz might be the only carrier near the Persian Gulf.