USS Franklin Timeline Justified

Star Trek: Beyond introduced the first Warp 4 capable ship operated by Earth, the USS Franklin.  This ship and it’s known canon timeline appear to pose some challenges.  Why is its registry number so high compared to later NX ships?  Where was she during the Xindi crisis?  Why, for a ship that predated the last holdouts joining United Earth, does she bear a United Federation of Planets dedication plaque?

I think those issues can be fairly easily resolved.  Not relying on word of god statements, just on filmed evidence and knowledge of relevant real world science and engineering and history.

Her launch was some time prior to the construction of NX-01 Enterprise.  This is where I think I can solve the registry number issue. Perhaps Franklin was commissioned under a different prefix?  Maybe that XCV that shows up in a couple places in canon.  She’s built, doing her thing, and with construction of Enterprise ready to start… Starfleet wants to test the Warp 5 engine in a real ship prior to the NX class proper, just to be sure.  So Franklin is transferred to the NX program, being reregistered from XCV-326 to NX-326.  There is precedent in the US Navy, sometimes ships are reclassified and the hull number prefix changes.  The WWII era USS Essex was CV-9, CVA-9, and CVS-9 after various refits and role changes.  This is trivial.

Now, why was she not as fast as Enterprise in this scenario?  Well, it’s more than the engine.  For a real world example, the Pontiac Aztek and the fifth generation Grand Am GT share an engine.  The Aztek tops out at 108mph, the Grand Am can hit 130.  Now, granted, this is where the governor kicks in and doesn’t let you go faster, but the governors are set up that way because that’s what the cars can safely handle.  With the same engine.  Franklin could easily be slower than Enterprise.  Or it could have been a slightly earlier version of the engine and then there’s not even the appearance of an issue.

And now we come to where the hell was she during the Xindi crisis?  Well, Enterprise is in the Delphic expanse.  Columbia is expected to be deployed there immediately if she’s completed in time(If you recall, there was brief speculation that the time displaced Enterprise was Columbia).  *Someone* has to be checking in on various Earth colonies and outposts, and barring Enterprise and possibly other conversions, Franklin was probably the fastest ship in the fleet.  She’d be all over the goddamned place dealing with all the random crap that happens in episodes of most Trek series.  Not a problem at all here.

And then- Why was she serving past the retirement of NX-01 Enterprise, a supposedly more advanced ship, which was mission capable at time of retirement?  Well, the B-52 is still the backbone of the United States Air Force bomber forces, with much reduced roles for the B-1 and B-2, and other “more modern” bombers such as the B-58 have been retired entirely.  Franklin may have been more reliable/cheaper to operate while providing “good enough” capability, relative to the NX class.

Lastly, the transfer from the United Earth Starfleet to the United Federation of Planets Starfleet is likely the event which warranted a new dedication plaque. Perhaps it was just done.  Perhaps UESF remained(the UESPA certainly did over a century later) in existence, so a Federation Starfleet ship retaining a UESF plaque would be inappropriate.

Now, a lot of this is speculation, but I think it’s reasonably grounded in known canon and real world precedents of the sort Star Trek is already known to follow since 1966.

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Star Trek: Beyond Enterprise Destruction

Thinking back on it, destroying the Enterprise early in Star Trek: Beyond was a brilliant move that really helped sell the themes. All that stuff about standing by each other, and valuing your crew above all else- it really supported the “stronger together” theme brilliantly. I don’t think that would have worked nearly as well had Enterprise survived in salvageable condition. And they eventually beat the Swarm through low tech(even by our standards) radio broadcasts(and then Krall through low tech fists). It’s not the technology, it’s the people using it.
Seriously, if those trailers were meant to really give you an idea what the movie was like… the trailer guy needs to be fired. If they were meant to avoid spoilers at all costs… the trailer guy should probably get an award.
I’m hoping they find a way to bring the Borg in soon. They’d be a great followup to the strong themes of unity that Beyond had. Show that while unity is great, it can be taken too far.
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George Kirk returning in Star Trek 4?

There are rumors that George Kirk will return in some form in Star Trek 4.
Flashbacks seem to be the expected way, but…
Narada was originally a mining ship, but she was refit by the Tal Shiar with Borg technology. Unclear if it was reverse engineered designs or actual salvaged equipment, if the latter… Well, there’s some potential.
So the Tal’shiar installs salvaged Borg equipment on Narada. Not fully understanding how everything works, they don’t realize they are installing assimilation equipment along with the weapons or shield generators, or do and can’t figure out how to disentangle it from what they want to install. But they figure it’s not going to assimilate anyone without a command to do so, so what does it matter if it’s sitting there?  Narada is a huge ship, they have the space.
Flash forward(backward?) to the battle with USS Kelvin. George Kirk crashes Kelvin into Narada. Now, this is assumed to kill him straight away, but perhaps he survives… albeit critically injured. The Borg equipment misinterprets the injured Kirk as a severely damaged drone, and emergency protocols activate to repair the drone.
George Kirk as the Kelvin timeline Locutus. Perhaps a few other drones from other critically wounded Kelvin crew and maybe a few Narada crew near the damaged sections.
It’s a path to bringing in the Borg to this timeline.
This could seem iffy right after another hive mind type of enemy- the Swarm from Beyond- but they could present that Swarm as a precursor to the Borg. I’ve had the thought that it could have been an early version of the Collective tech, and Altamid the homeworld of the original Borg. If they make this canon, and follow it up with a Borgified George Kirk, that could be pretty cool IMO and maybe even make Beyond the second best movie of the reboot.  The experience against the Swarm might also open up ways the relatively less advanced Kelvin timeline Federation might stand a chance against a Borg invasion.
They’d need a clever way to get these drones off Narada rather than using it to assimilate the galaxy, but that shouldn’t be too hard.  Perhaps the assimilation equipment isn’t complete, and their full array of defensive equipment isn’t available, so the Naradas crew would beat them silly?  So they steal a shuttlecraft and go somewhere to contact the main Collective and gear up for an invasion.

Star Trek III and War Crimes.

Kirks “surrender” in Star Trek III would be a war crime in a modern war.
Scuttling the ship is one thing. You don’t have to let the enemy take your stuff when you surrender. Scuttling with enemy boarders aboard is also OK to prevent capture of the ship.
But surrendering with the intent of luring enemy personnel aboard when you scuttle, so that you can more easily capture their ship for your own use, is a flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions. Surrender is a way to end hostilities, not a battle tactic.
Kirk might be able to try to play a technicalities game in that there wasn’t a signed instrument of surrender, but even if he could establish having followed the letter of the law, he certainly didn’t follow the spirit.
The Klingons should have added war crimes charges to the charges of assassinating Gorkon in Star Trek VI.  It’s understandable that they might have considered it diplomatically infeasible to push extradition too hard in Star Trek IV, but they had him in custody in VI.  War crimes charges couldn’t be so easily dismissed, because he actually did do it even if he had some technicality to minimize liability.

DeForest Kelley would have been 94 today

I think a good case could be made that he is the single most important actor in Star Trek history. At least, when you are looking at the franchise itself, as a whole. You could argue others within the confines of individual stories, series, and movies, and certainly for their work outside Trek, but for the franchise? DeForest Kelley was the most important.

He was the one that showed up to pass the torch from the TOS crew to the Next Generation crew, and everything subsequent follows from that. He was the one to tell us, in no uncertain terms, that this was still Star Trek. This was the universe, the Federation, and Starfleet of James T Kirk and Leonard McCoy, just a few decades later. He only had a few minutes in The Next Generation, but those few minutes were important to the overall sense of continuity.

You *could* argue Leonard Nimoy, since he also ties Abrams Trek to TOS and TNG, but he didn’t kick off TNG with a sense of continuity. Kelley did.

USS Enterprise NCC 1701-E vs Imperial Star Destroyer

Nearly any Starfleet vessel back to NX-01 would have similar advantages and disadvantages in this matchup, though not to the same degree as the Sovereign class.

The iconic ships from two iconic Science Fiction franchises- who wins?  The TLDR of this- Between mobility in combat as well as rapid intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities, Enterprise would wipe the floor with the Star Destroyer, at least in a chance, hostile first contact encounter.

In terms of sheer destructive power, the Imperial Star Destroyer, and even their Republic antecedents, outstrip the Enterprise by such a margin that it’s really not even worth detailing their weapon systems much.  The Star Destroyers just have so much more.  It’s hard to say who has the most powerful individual weapons(though considering shield evidence I’d put that on Starfleet), but the Star Destroyers have so many more it’s probably a safe bet that total firepower is on their side.

Shield strength, I’d have to give that to Enterprise.  Starfleet shields have been shown to handle absolutely insane stresses, including things they weren’t designed for because those things were considered literally impossible until Starfleet randomly stumbled on them.  While the Star Destroyer can send out a ton of firepower, Enterprise could probably survive it for at least a little while.  This will buy Enterprise crucial time.

It’s difficult to say if Enterprise weapons are powerful enough that the shield strength would put relative damage output on their side, but it is possible it would.  Worth noting here is that despite the insane crap they can handle, weapons comparable to Stafleet weapons can weaken and get through the shields.  This could indicate that while Star Destroyers have more total firepower, firepower as a function of enemy shield strength may be in favor of Enterprise.

It may also be worth noting that Starfleet deflector shield emitters can be used as weapons, though this requires too much modification to be used in a chance encounter.  It’s conceivable that Starfleet would have redesigned them to more easily be used offensively after the first Borg invasion, but there’s no actually filmed evidence I’m aware of that they’ve done so.

In size, the Imperial I class Star Destroyer, the most typical type, is 1,600 meters long.  Enterprise-E is much smaller, at 685 meters long.  A lot of the Star Destroyer is empty space for the hangar deck, and redundant arrays of weapons and weapons and more weapons.  Relevant to size is the sort of weapons the Star Destroyer carries- their main battery is meant to go after large ships, and while much smaller than the Star Destroyer, Enterprise isn’t so incredibly tiny as to be hard to track.

Support vessels- Enterprise carries a few lightly armed shuttlecraft.  Armed just to hold someone off long enough to get to warp and get the hell out of there, not as combat vessels.  Star Destroyer wins big here in terms of number and armament of support vessels carried.  Though, and I’ll get to the significance, Enterprise support vessels are capable of FTL.

Sensors- The Star Destroyer has good tactical sensors, but she appears to have no capability to track targets in FTL or at any really significant distance.  Enterprise can do this, and her sensor array is designed not just for combat but for very detailed scientific study, and Enterprise is staffed full of people who can quickly make sense of the information their science sensor array gives them.  This could be a huge advantage in finding weak spots in the design or construction of the Star Destroyer.

Agility and combat speed, Enterprise wins by a hillariously large margin here.  Imperial Star Destroyers do not appear to be at all capable of FTL combat.  Enterprise is.  The Star Destroyers weapons might be able to easily track with a ship of Enterprises size, but not when she goes to warp.  And oh, Enterprise can deploy several FTL targets with at least light weaponry and sensor arrays that make a mockery of what the Star Destroyer can do.

So here’s my thoughts.  In the initial “what the hell is this”, with the Enterprise sensor arrays and scientific/engineering experts, perhaps supplemented by a deployment of probes and/or shuttles to get a closer look, Enterprise will know far more about the Star Destroyer than the Star Destroyer will know about Enterprise.  In terms of total knowledge, and in certainty they have it right, Enterprise wins the intelligence war, quite possibly before the Star Destroyer even has seen Enterprise at all.

Enterprise will immediately know about the weakness in the bridge tower of the Star Destroyer.  Given the Enterprises advantages in combat maneuverability with tactical FTL capability, they could quickly exploit this with a Picard Maneuver.  The Star Destroyers bridge tower would be destroyed, and at that point it’s all over.  Starfleet Rules of Engagement are likely to require Enterprise to wait until they are fired upon, though, this is the Star Destroyers one chance.  If they don’t make this shot count- at least knock out the Enterprise warp drive- they lose.