Fleets

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Fleets

Postby Sonic Glitch » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:34 pm

I was thinking recently (considering ideas for the continuation of the Enterprise RPG [/shameless plug]) about the question of fleets in star trek. We know by the time of the Dominion War and DS9 that the Federation has numerous fleets numbering probably at least 100 ships each, but in TNG having 40 ships together was the best Starfleet could do (BoBW). And yet it seems like the loss of 40 ships was relatively light ("We'll have the fleet back up in less than a year."). This makes me wonder, is it possible that the fleets as we saw them in DS9 always existed but weren't fully mobilized until the approach of the war. The amount of planning and resources required for the Federation to mobilize a fleet to attack Dominion shipyards and then attempt to retake Deep Space Nine right at the outset could not have been completed overnight so I presume that, despite whatever we may think of TNG-era Starfleet someone, somewhere was planning for a war with the Dominion. Based on this I thought up my own theory on where the fleets come from:

The fleets have always existed at an administrative level. In Starfleets organizational charts (or whatever), there is a list of total ships assigned to Fleet X, but they are not all mobilized at the same time. For most of TNG the Federation was at peace. Yes there was the ongoing "war" with the Cardassians but by the time of TNG it seemed to have been reduced to the occasional skirmish. This level of conflict would (likely) not require mass fleets of starships. It is also established in TNG that it is rare for some vessels to meet each other in space (I think Picard mentioned that regarding their meeting with the Yamato) and/or for some starships to return to earth (I believe that was mentioned in Conspiracy). This makes me consider that during peacetime, Starfleet operates fewer ships, and more of them on long-term, long-distance missions.

We also know that Starfleet apparently has some sort of personnel reserve in effect ("You're revered Admiral Nogura invoked a little-known, seldom-used 'Reserve Activation Clause'!"), and it would be sensible that they have some sort of Mothball/Reserve ships somewhere (wasn't Qualor II a surplus-depot?). Possibly these reserve ships and personnel are continuously assigned to a particular fleet, but only called-up in wartime so its simply a matter of calling back the crew and readying the ship to depart to a rendezvous point -- admittedly this may take several months but certainly Starfleet had several months to gauge the potential for conflict with the Dominion.

I think use of reserve personnel and ships may go a long way to explain the discrepency in fleet numbers we see in Star Trek. In TNG 40 ships was a lot, and Picard had trouble finding enough ships for his Tachyon Net IIRC. But in DS9 we routinely see fleets number ~100 and then again in Nemesis Picard says "Our fleet has been diverted to meet us there," yet the graphic does not display anything close to the amount of ships we see per fleet in DS9. Possibly the display shows only the ships that arrived at Sector 1045 but its also possible that now, so many years after the DW that Starfleet is settling back down into a peacetime routine and the ships displayed are merely the operational ships attached to the fleet the E-E belongs to.


Does this make any sense? What do we think?
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Re: Fleets

Postby Captain Seafort » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:58 pm

I think some of that is likely to be the case (personnel and vessels being recalled from reserve in times of crisis), but in more general terms I think you're thinking too rigidly about what the numbered fleets are. It's more likely IMO that they're wartime tactical formations, formed to control the huge numbers of ships recalled from outlying areas of the Federation and concentrated against the Dominion, than peacetime administrative formations swelled by the addition of reactivated reserves.

The far smaller fleets seen in BoBW, Redemption and Nemesis are probably due to limitations of speed rather than total numbers (although the losses of the war may play a part in the last case) - they're simply spread too widely under normal peacetime conditions to concentrate a big fleet at short notice. Don't forget that several years elapsed between the loss of the Odyssey and the outbreak of war, while the small fleets gathered at only a few days' notice.
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Re: Fleets

Postby Mikey » Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:24 pm

I agree with Seafort. The fact that we never saw such a reference in times of peace, combined with the fact that "fleet" seemed to mean differently-sized or differently-criterioned groupings at different times, leads me to believe that such "fleets" were little more than ad hoc logistical constructs of expediency.
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Re: Fleets

Postby Mikey » Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:24 pm

I agree with Seafort. The fact that we never saw such a reference in times of peace, combined with the fact that "fleet" seemed to mean differently-sized or differently-criterioned groupings at different times, leads me to believe that such "fleets" were little more than ad hoc logistical constructs of expediency.
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Re: Fleets

Postby McAvoy » Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:46 pm

I agree. It's just a matter of time for how fast Starfleet can mobilize a fleet. Starfleet I think had a few days at most to form a 40 ship fleet at Wolf 359.

The other possibility is that in some system, Starfleet maintains a reserve fleet. Sort of like the sailing days when ships were built and then stored until needed and ships could be put back onto the stocks for later use.

So assuming DS9 we had a Starfleet fleet of 8,000 ships for example, perhaps a peacetime pre-Dominion fleet was maybe 4,000 or 5,000 ships but made up with large percentage of non-combat ships. Starfleet had wars prior to this but you get the impression it was a limited war. Not full on war like the Dominion.

Also, the fleet we saw in DS9 could have definitely been bolstered by new construction between Wolf 359 and the start of the war.
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Re: Fleets

Postby colmquinn » Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:58 pm

With the DS9 Dom wars I just assumed it took a long time for the Fed to call back all their ships from quiet borders to bring the pre existing fleets up to full combat strength. As in the 10th fleet say had a X size of space to cover with Y ships but they were spread thin exploring and showing the flag missions but when it all kicked off it took time to organise them into a cohesive force. They had the ships they were just spread too thin.
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Re: Fleets

Postby Captain Seafort » Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:05 pm

As I said, I'm not convinced the fleets existed pre-War. If they were area commands, then it stands to reason that they'd simply be stripped to the bone to reinforce whatever number fleet was responsible for the Cardassian border. Instead their operations are described as if all the ships of a given fleet are in the same place. This makes more sense if they're being created as and when necessary to conduct specific operations, or to make C2 easier as the number of ships in theatre increases, just as the BEF was split into numbered armies as its strength increased.
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Re: Fleets

Postby McAvoy » Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:50 pm

I also don't believe they did either. They were probably created in response to the large fleets the Dominion had. I think prior to this Task Forces were created to deal with certain threats and wars.
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Re: Fleets

Postby colmquinn » Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:56 pm

I don't disagree but I just always had the idea that say the "10th fleet" existed but it was not ready for war. Like I said it was meant for border patrol but when it kicked off it became a battle group and all ships in its area of influence were called back.

Maybe I'm not understanding whats being said (or we all agree but have slightly different ideas of the same concept). The fleets existed but only really on paper but in reality they were TNG style happy exploration people with no concept of war?????
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Re: Fleets

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:13 am

There being no organized fleets would almost semi-justify the 'only ship in the sector, beyond dramatic necessity. ;)
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Re: Fleets

Postby alexmann » Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:36 pm

I don't think that there are specific fleets as such. I think that they just got what ships they could for one particular battle, grouped them together into a fleet and then they just tended to stay together as they would be sent to the same place. For example, if a Dominion fleet was going to attack sector A, any ship that could reach that sector before the Dominion got there would be grouped into Fleet B. When ships were needed elsewhere, if an existing fleet could reach it intime, they would be sent. If not they could form a new one.
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Re: Fleets

Postby McAvoy » Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:28 pm

Sounds plausible and in real life fleets are done that way too especially with the huge fleets in WW1 and WW2.

But forming a few hundred ship fleet from nowhere makes sense. By the the war starts there should already be established fleets in place. But maybe you are thinking of smaller ones like a task force to deal with a specific threat?
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Re: Fleets

Postby Jim » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:45 pm

I would see having a few battle groups always together but then also pulling smaller groups together for one mission (battle) and then letting them break up back into their smaller groups after that battle.
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Re: Fleets

Postby Graham Kennedy » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:00 am

I think it was more a case of preparation time.

Bear in mind that the Borg attack in BoBW happened over a very short span; the timing isn't clear, but from the initial discovery of the vanished colony to Wolf 359 was only a couple of days or so, tops. Similarly, in Unification Picard has to assemble a fleet basically using whatever he can get his hands on at the time, and gets about 20 ships together from one Starbase.

But the run up to the Dominion war lasted three years. They had a long, long warning that they might well need heavy concentrations of forces, and all the lead time in the world to assemble them.

To me that implies that Starfleet normally has their ships widely distributed; and indeed that's what we usually see in the show, with ships virtually always operating on their own. They occasionally rendezvous for one reason or another, but we never see so much as two ships working together as a matter of normal routine. With travel times of weeks or months, most ships just aren't available for the kinds of "instant crisis" we often see.
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Re: Fleets

Postby Captain Seafort » Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:15 am

GrahamKennedy wrote:Bear in mind that the Borg attack in BoBW happened over a very short span; the timing isn't clear, but from the initial discovery of the vanished colony to Wolf 359 was only a couple of days or so, tops.


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