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» Flare Sci-Fi Forums » Star Trek » Starships & Technology » How Many Old Ships to Take a New One? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: How Many Old Ships to Take a New One?
Guardian 2000
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Let's assume you have a perfect target device that will record your weapons' firepower.

In a contest between vessels, how many NX Class ships would it take to equal:

1. A Constitution (no uber-Connie)
2. A Galaxy
3. (Or compare the above)
4. (you can throw an Intrepid in too, if you want)

Assume an equal number of torpedoes fired, equal phaser time, et cetera.

The general gist is to get a rough sense of firepower enhancement, if any, over the two centuries or so of Trek that we've seen. (Rough 'cause it's not like I'm trying to calc everything . . . just looking for a ballpark guesstimate.)

An example that comes to my mind is "Prophecy"[VOY7]. A Klingon D-7, about a century old, attacks Voyager. While Voyager was certainly not in her prime at this point, neither could the Klingon ship have been . . . it had, after all, been headed toward the Delta Quadrant for decades. The Klingons were able to bring Voyager's port shields down by half with just a few shots. Certainly this should not be so if a two century gap represents some uber-improvement of like 50000 times in defensive technology. Even if we assume that within just one century one would see an improvement of 750 times, the D-7 ought to have been able to fire at Voyager for hours without effect. But that was not the case.

On the other hand, the T'Ong was largely ineffectual against the Enterprise-D in "The Emissary". However, the outposts in the sector would've been no match for the old warship. ("This is Commander Redshirt of Federation Outpost Wusstastic, requesting assistance!")

Also, as seen in "In a Mirror, Darkly"[ENT4], a mid-23rd Century Constitution Class ship could readily defeat the parallel universe's 22nd Century vessels similar to those from the normal universe, though how similar is of course debatable. That battle was pretty much a Connie-wank curbstomping, as well it should've been, though the torps seemed kinda lame.

The only other thing I can think of off the top of my head is the utter buttspanking Dominion weapons seemed to deliver against the Sitak and the Majestic in "Sacrifice of Angels", tearing through Miranda hulls like butter in a way Kirk's phasers and torpedoes didn't in ST2.

Any other potentially-useful examples come to mind?

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Omega
Some other beginning's end
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Voyager vs. Braxton's timeship? Endgame Voyager vs. Borg?

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Jason Abbadon
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Enterprise D utterly destroying the (unshielded) USS Lantree with one torpedo whereas Kirk's Enterprise-fired torpedos did comparitvly minor explosive damage in STII.

Six or seven torpedos needed to destroy the unshielded KBOP in STVI, but only one required to dispatch the klingon ugly sisters in Generations.

Obviously torpedo yields and effectivness have jumped way up.

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Omega
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Torpedo explosion escaped on foot in ST5, compared to TNG era examples of torpedo explosions.

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Jason Abbadon
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Yeah...good example, there.
We've seen overloaded phasers with more wallop.

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MinutiaeMan
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But also, torpedo firepower is supposed to be customizable, with variable amounts of antimatter to produce variable explosions. Thus, any comparison is almost futile.

Also, an attempt to rationalize anything from Star Trek V is just plain NUTS. [Razz]

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Shik
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Are you trying to say that there WASN'T a Bird-of-Prey just outside Sol's heliopause?

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Jason Abbadon
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Or that Kirk's Enterprise was not trying to blow up Reliant?
Pretty unlikely- each of the instances sited (with STV as the sole possible exception) would have been torpedos at their maximum yield.

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HerbShrump
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I'm not recalling any dialog which indicates torpedoes can have variable yield.

Not that they can't. Variable yield does make sense.

Still, in a situation such as the Enterprise faced in STII, it would make more sense to use torpedoes at full strength. The Enterprise was battered and bloody when facing the Reliant in the Mutara Nebula. If I was Kirk, I would want to use maximum strength firepower.

Were torpedoes or phasers used against the BOP in STIII? I can't remember.

Then there is the torpedo that tore through the Enterprise saucer in STVI. Not much explosion though. Possible it was a dud.

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Guardian 2000
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The "photonic torpedoes" deployed on Earth Starfleet ships in the early 2150's had yield variability such that they "can knock the comm array off a shuttle pod without scratching the hull, or they can put a three kilometer crater into an asteroid" (Reed, "The Expanse"[ENT2]). Common estimates place the upper-end part of the statement at about 20 megatons. Estimating the lower end I suppose depends on the yield of a screwdriver or pair of pliers. [Wink]

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Guardian 2000
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Now the explanation of why I thought this was of interest:

Tucker:
"When we slipped through your detection grid, we got a look at the weapon you're building. An impressive piece of engineering. Hell, it'd take at least a thousand starships like Enterprise to blow up an entire planet. You know, I'd like to see the telemetry from the probe you launched against Earth.
I assume you were watching the attack, calculating the blast yields. Boy, you must have been pretty damn excited. I mean, that beam cut one hell of a swath through Florida. That's the name of one of the places you destroyed. Florida. Did you actually see the cities burning, the houses, the people being vaporized? You know, I had a sister there . . . "

Tucker does not explain how long he thinks it would take for a thousand NX Class starships to destroy a planet, and his comments may have been simple bluster in an attempt to instill a bit of fear and doubt into the Xindi scientist Degra. After all, 10^29J is about a thousand times less than the gravitational potential energy of a planet, and thus that is approximately the energy Tucker is describing for an NX Class ship. However, we also know that even on an overload setting a two-gun phase cannonade results in just 10^13J ("Silent Enemy"[ENT1]), which suggests that about 10,000,000,000,000,000 (ten quadrillion) NX Class ships would be required if all fired their phase cannons at once to achieve the goal. With multi-megaton torpedoes this could be lessened significantly, but still not by a factor of trillions unless we wanted to assume just stupid-powerful torpedoes.

Then there's "The Die is Cast"[DSN3] and the attack on the Founder homeworld, featuring 20 Romulan and Cardassian ships manned by combat veterans and led by the intelligentsia (half-pun intended) of both empires.

The crust was to be destroyed within one hour. The mantle was to be destroyed within five. Therefore, we have six hours to destroy both the crust and the mantle. Given that it was thought Dominion reinforcements could reach the Founder's world in seven hours, this makes sense . . . the Jem'Hadar would find the naked core of their god's world, and nothing else.

If you assume Earth-like composition, projecting from that point to the destruction of the entire planet becomes problematic . . . the time factor involved couldn't be based on density, since the mantle is around one and a half times as dense but also contains a far greater amount of material (the inner and outer core constitute ~32.5% of the mass of the planet but ~16% of the volume, the mantle layers constituting ~67% of the mass and ~83% of the volume, the crust getting the small leftovers).

So, either the Founder's world had a much thicker crust (as some believe of Mars, which would also have consequences for the remainder of the interior), or density is not the driving factor (or perhaps the higher internal temperatures were helpful).

In any case, destruction of the core should not have taken an inordinate amount of time after this point, especially with the core being relieved of the pressure caused by the bulk of the rest of the planet bearing down upon it (which will affect the density of the material).

If you wanted to peg me to an estimate of how long it would have taken the ships to destroy the core, I'd say 5-15 hours (5 hours equalling the time for the mantle, with three times that for "wiggle room").

This would give the 20 ships the same basic effect as the Death Star or Xindi weapon in 11-21 hours. I commonly just round that up to a full day.

But here's the interesting thing . . .

Above, the thinking was that Tucker's thousand-ship comment seemed wrong. But was it really? After all, despite similar vessel construction methods and a similar technology base (phase(r) cannons, photon(ic) torpedoes, etc.), within about two centuries only 20 ships (albeit much larger and more powerful ones) could achieve the goal of complete planetary destruction within a single day.

Even assuming the 1000 NX Class ships could do the same in only a day, that's a 50-fold increase in firepower per ship. If the NX Class ships would require a month to take out the planet, then suddenly the difference is 1500 times. While there's never been a quantitative assessment of firepower improvements in the canon, it seems rather difficult to accept that 1500 NX Class starships would be required to take down a Cardassian Galor variant in a firepower contest.

Re: "Prophecy" and the Klingons damaging the shields . . . Certainly this should not be so if a two century gap represents a 1500-fold improvement in defensive technology. Even if we assume that within just one century one would see an improvement of 750 times, the D-7 ought to have been able to fire at Voyager for hours without effect. But that was not the case.

There's also the simple fact that we've frequently seen vessels quite long in the tooth, especially in Starfleet. It seems rather unlikely that a Dominion War-era Miranda Class starship could possibly have been upgraded to a level hundreds of times more powerful than an older Miranda like the Reliant from Star Trek II. Ships would have to spend all their time in dock being rebuilt from the inside out in such a circumstance, and each major new class would've been able to wipe the floor with dozens of ships from a decade or two prior. Obviously, that is not what we've seen.

Other issues come to mind and are worthy of comment, but in any case I think this might make it clear why I was curious to know the general ballpark range in everyone else's head. For me, something akin to a 50-fold increase sounds about right given the general gist of other examples, though it leads to a bit of an absurd conclusion.

(The "reality", of course, is simply that Trek writers simply have no idea how frakkin' huge a planet really is.)

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Timo
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quote:
If I was Kirk, I would want to use maximum strength firepower.
With the kind of combat we saw in ST2, most of the shots would miss. It might then make sense to start out with low yields that, when hitting, make the enemy an easier target by either wounding him or by at least marking him bu, when missing, do not send too much of the precious antimatter to waste. With each hit, the yield would be increased as the odds of another hit also improved.

OTOH, the shots that would have the best odds of hitting would be point blank ones. You don't want doomsday blasts when you fight at ranges of one or two ship lengths.

Simple demolition work would be a very different matter. The first and only torpedo could be given maximum yield, because the victim isn't going to attempt evasive maneuvers.

quote:
Were torpedoes or phasers used against the BOP in STIII? I can't remember.
Two torpedoes. Apparently, those are easier to automate than phasers... Which is pretty interesting, considering how "manual" the system aboard that particular ship appeared to be in the previous movie.

quote:
Then there's "The Die is Cast"[DSN3] and the attack on the Founder homeworld, featuring 20 Romulan and Cardassian ships
Might be more like hundreds. 20 was just a low-end estimate on the number of quantum singularities popping up on Dax's display. And after she made that comment, said display filled with close to a hundred dots, all moving independently and thus probably representing the separate powerplants of separate ships.

Would make sense; a fleet of thirty was in "Redemption" considered insufficient for invasion by the very same Romulans who mounted this attack...

quote:
However, we also know that even on an overload setting a two-gun phase cannonade results in just 10^13J ("Silent Enemy"[ENT1])
I wonder whether we should really interpret all these Joule figures as measures of power, despite the fact that they should be Watts.

The NX-01 phase cannon were built to function at 500 GJ, and the "blast yield" resulting from the overload was "ten times" the expected value. But perhaps we aren't speaking of the amount of energy transferred to the target in either of those cases. Rather, the Joules could refer to the "caliber" of the weapon, perhaps the frequency of the beam (this is something you could plausibly measure in Joules).

Thus, the weapon would still have the frequency of 500 GJ when blowing up that mountain, it would just happen to pump more power through to the target than expected. The wattage would be unknown to us, and quite possibly very similar to the wattage later quoted for TNG era ships.

TNG era sources continue to refer to phaser jouleage, but again not necessarily in the sense of power delivered to the target.

The upside? The poorly thought out onscreen jouleage values would not be incompatible with the destructive effects witnessed. The downside? We would lose all or at least most information of the actual power of the weapons.

Timo Saloniemi

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Guardian 2000
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Actually, the number of ships in the R/C fleet is referenced by Admiral Toddman directly. I used to frequently misremember it as 30.

As for joules = frequency . . . how would that work? I wholeheartedly grant that Trek writers sometimes confused watts and joules and ergs and whatnot, but I'm just unclear on how they might've missed a way to make them even more confusing but that might also have worked. [Wink]

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Jason Abbadon
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As to the Founder's Homeworld, they may have adjusted their firing estimates to reflect the planet's urface being covered in founders (and they seem fairly weapon's resiliant).

I'm sure the "thousand NX starships" comment was wild speculation and not a seriously researched figure on Tucker's part- he was seriously pissed at the time.

We saw customizable torp yield in at least one TNG episode (where Worf was testing a new torp guidance system that went awky).

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Vanguard
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To be fair, the Ent-D had an easy target, and hit the engine on a ship that was making no effort to defend itself.

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