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Starbases

Written: 2000.06.13
Last Revised: 2000.07.10

The Federation also constructs numerous facilities other than starships, most importantly star bases. According to the Star Trek Encyclopedia, there are over 500 starbases in, around, and beyond Federation space. These starbases vary widely in size, intent, and capabilities. Some of them are large installations comparable in size to a large Imperial warship, while others are insignificant outposts intended simply to maintain a presence and gather data. Some of them are not even space stations at all, but rather, they are planetary surface installations. It is therefore difficult to estimate how many large military space stations the Federation has, except that the number must be lower than 500.

(Alyeska here) Can't argue to much on that point except for ONE thing. There are over 700 starbases in the federation.

Yet another unsupported claim. As usual, I carefully explain that I got my information from the Encylopedia and he contradicts me without even hinting at his source. The reason for the omission is obvious: if he explains that he based it on the starbase registration numbers, everybody would immediately point out that the numbering scheme isn't necessarily consecutive, and that even if it were, older starbases might have been taken out of service. They would have used up a registry number while they were active but that registry number would be a mere historical curiosity now.

As an aside, most starbases are puny compared to Earth Spacedock and Starbase 74 (both of which are largely hollow, I might add). They are largely either ground-based colonies or small outposts which couldn't dream of holding a starship within their structures. Starbase 375 and DS9 are good examples; the former is based on the Regula One space station model, and the latter is a spindly ring structure which is no larger than an ordinary ISD, never mind an Imperial space station. And DS9 is the fourth largest starbase in the entire Federation!

On a side note it is know known that the federation has large starbases that build ships like fleet yards.

Yet another unsupported claim. How is it "now known?" I'm as open to correction as the next guy, but not when the only evidence at hand is some Trekkie fanboy's word. Which episode did he derive this from? Did it occur to him that maintenance and construction aren't the same thing? Did it come from the Encylopedia? Did it come from one of the TM's? He doesn't care to explain, does he?

Note: Alyeska was forthright enough to E-mail me after this page went on-line, to explain that he got the information from the DS9 TM, specifically its ship catalogue. The catalogue lists the assembly location of various starship classes, and it indicates that Galaxy, Nebula, Excelsior, and Intrepid-class starships come from Utopia Planitia, Defiant/Akira-class ships come from the Antares fleet yards, Miranda class ships come from Starbase 134, Constitution-class ships come from McKinley Orbital Spacedock, and Norway/Saber-class ships come from Spacedock 1. It would have been nice if such sources had been referenced in the first place, but I appreciate the useful, if belated information. At this point, I would be curious if anyone can explain why each ship class always comes from a particular shipyard; perhaps it's related to size.

Well in order for the number of ships to be refurbished (178) for just those two fleets and assuming that all yards are like Utopia Planitia (if I didn't, then the federation acctually has MORE ship yards then you give them credit for) then that means with 18 docking facilities per yards and divide it with 178 and that means the federation had to have at least 10 ship yards to accomodate just building those partial rebuilds for the DS9 attack.

This one isn't a no math argument; it's a bad math argument. He actually goes to the bother of performing simplistic calculations this time, but they're based on the utterly mindless assumption that all of the rebuilds must have been concurrent! This is ridiculous (and obviously intended to exaggerate the number of shipyards). A rebuild will, by its very nature, take much less time than a full construction job from the ground up. Given the length of the Dominion War, it is hardly unreasonable to imagine that a single construction bay might have rebuilt quite a few ships before it was over. Furthermore, the Federation also has maintenance yards (such as the Proxima Maintenance Yards) which could have assisted in the rebuilds. And finally, the 178-ship figure included rebuilds as well as partial builds. Partial builds would have required even less time than rebuilds, since a partial build is merely the premature launching of an incomplete starship. Therefore, there is no need for 178 separate construction bays. On the contrary, if they did have 178 separate construction bays allocated to this purpose, they should have easily turned out far more ships.

But that disregards the need to build NEW ships and that there were 5 other fleets that ALSO needed acces to ship yards. To be nice I will only assume a 3x larger number instead of 9X(which is more reasonable considering the other fleets needs and the needs to build more ships) that means the federation has at LEAST 30 ship yards that can build 18 ships apeace. But note these are shipyards with multiple building areas. Your assumption on federation ship yards was a single building bay.

Without having seen a larger shipyard, I had indeed made the assumption that a shipyard is a single-bay facility, since the shipyard in TOS was a single-bay facility. However, as I've stated several times already, my original estimates were so generous that they easily account for the new information. Let's look at the facts: the Federation only has five confirmed shipyards, of which the largest is undoubtedly Utopia Planitia. It probably takes two years or more to build a single large vessel like a GCS. Therefore, the estimate of 100 ships per year is still more than adequate to describe Federation shipbuilding capability. 5 shipyards times 15 bays per shipyard is 75 bays. If we generously assume only one year per ship, that's just 75 ships per year, which is still lower than my original 100-ship estimate. Furthermore, even this estimate is quite generous. After all, it took more than a year for Starfleet to recover from the loss of 39 ships at Wolf 359.

You may note the continuing use of unsupported claims. He claims that they have 30 shipyards, all of which are at least as large as Utopia Planitia. What is the evidence for this claim? None. He claims that 5 other fleets need access to the shipyards, obviously assuming that all of the 178 ships were destined toward one particular fleet. Where is the evidence for this claim? None. The 178 ships were obviously spread about the fleet rather than entirely being destined for one particular fleet.


The largest known Federation starbase is Starbase 74 (pictured here), in orbit around the Federation planet Tarsas III. homeworld (seen in "11001001"). It is significantly larger than Earth Spacedock (seen in ST3), even though the two structures have the same superficial appearance. The E-D's size as a proportion of Starbase 74 was similar to the E-Nil's size as a proportion of Earth Spacedock. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that Starbase 74 is approximately 50% longer than Earth Spacedock, and therefore more than 3 times as massive. Earth Spacedock is described in the ST3 ILM size charts as being approximately 12000' (3600m) in diameter and 15250' (4600m) tall (thanks to Ryan McReynolds for bringing this to my attention). The Enterprise-D did not appear any larger with respect to Starbase 74 than the original NCC-1701 Enterprise was with respect to Earth Spacedock, therefore we can conclude that the general dimensions of Starbase 74 are approximately 50% larger (meaning that its volume is 3.4 times larger). This would make Starbase 74 approximately 5400m in diameter, and 6900m in length. It has a mushroom shape, similar to the much larger Bespin Cloud City tibanna gas mine that was once run by Lando Calrissian. Its prominence in Federation space underscores the limitations of the Federation's industrial capacity. The insignificant Deep Space Nine space station is less than 1 mile in diameter (ref. DS9 TM) and even though that diameter is mostly empty space (the station is a ring rather than a sphere), Federation spokespeople consider it an extremely large structure, as seen in the following quote from the Deep Space Nine Technical Manual:

By any standard of measurement, Deep Space 9 is an extremely large free-flying orbit station irrespective of its origins or current custodians ... at least three major Starfleet starbases dwarf Deep Space Nine in sheer size and mass, but the former Terek Nor is the largest spaceborne materials refining facility known to date.

(E1701 here) Need I point out that the TM is far less canon than the episodes, which number actual starbase's into the hundreds?

This is a red herring. If you look at the above passage, I am describing the relatively puny sizes of Federation starbases, of which only three exceed the spindly DS9 facility in size. He retorts with a repetition of an earlier invalid argument involving the number of starbases, but the number of starbases has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the size of starbases. As I said, it's a red herring.

(Alyeska here) Well, lets see. We already know that the current Spacedock/starbase 1 is in fact also a ship yards.

This is another repetition of an earlier unsupported claim. He never explains where this revelation comes from, although I'm guessing that he assumed it was a shipyard because it could perform maintenance work. This is rather like claiming that your local auto mechanic is a car factory because he can repair your car.

Note: Alyesa eventually explained that the information came from the DS9 TM, which explains that some of the smallest ship classes were built at Spacedock 1.

Well you are talking about a space dock that is 70 years old. I would suspect with ships as large as Ambasador class ships being built 30 years before DS9 that spacedock 1 would be rebuilt larger to accomodate the newer ships. Further more for spacedock 1 to be a ship yards they would have to INCREASE its size so that it could accomodate the larger ship. After all what good is a fleet yards if it can't handle anything larger then an Excelssior

This is another red herring (not to mention a questionable assumption). I provided a direct quote from the DS9 TM to the effect that only three Federation starbases are bigger than DS9, and one of them is Earth Spacedock. He attempts to "prove" that Earth Spacedock might have been expanded over the years. But how does this challenge or contradict the fact that it is one of only three facilities larger than DS9? Short answer: it doesn't, which is why it's a red herring.


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