Why did ships in Star Trek have a self Destruct

I mean think about that concept for one second. Think of every naval vessel that you have ever been on, and tell me with confidence that if the captain and crew really wanted it, they could blow that ship up with only a voice command. Oh sure, they could go through and manually rig the various explosive devices that a naval warship should carry to explode, but I have never known a naval ship to have the ability to just spontaneously explode.

Heyo, Your ship exploded

What's that self Destruct Code again?

I guess that on some level it fit two purposes. One, you want to throw back to the notion that if your ship gets captured by the enemy, you have a way to blow it up. This might make sense… if they weren’t in space. Now, in an ocean, if you scuttle your ship, you may have to contend with sharks, but you can ultimately survive if you tread water. You will not explode, and freeze into tiny bits of space debris. In the event that you abandon your starship, there is no peaceful water to greet you. When that bulkhead explodes revealing all your fleshy bits to the harsh and uncaring mistress that is space, it’s really just going to be a bad day.

Now, on top of this I could buy that at some level you could compare it to a Submarine, but I’ll only take that so far for a number of reasons. The largest reason being that most Federation vessels apparently carried civilians and families. What the hell kind of insurance clause do you have to sign when you get on board one of these vessels? Is there just a “Yes sign here if you’re OK with one person having the authority to blow you all up with only a command phrase” somewhere in the contract for getting a room aboard the enterprise. I mean hell, if one is to take the word on that, have you seen the number of times Janeway has been wiling to blow up her own ship just to spite people? I’m not really sure if I’d trust Starfleet to get me from point A to point B under normal operations, half most likely when their captains are pressured to push the big red button.

And really the biggest irritation here is that it seems so terribly unFederation of them. I mean even for a supposedly peaceful group one has to admit they had a military, but even so it just seems so terribly out of character to just blow yourselves up when things look grim. That’s not an attribute that I’m willing to just turn over to the Federation. I mean sure with the Borg, The Dominion, that kind of thing makes sense. But you’re telling me that aboard every Federation ship, if things get itchy, the captain can just look at his or her watch, check the warp core and shout “Authorization Janeway Pi” and poof 170+ dead in a terribly fiery explosion? Something about that just doesn’t settle well with me.

In other news

I have come to the discovery that there were Dolphins on the Enterprise D. Now this may come of no Surprise to you, as I’m sure everyone assumes that Worf is the type to keep a pet Dolphin and have interesting conversations with it during the weeknights. No the real surprising thing is that according to the Star Trek TNG Tech Manual, the Dolphins served as navigational officers for the ship. The real humor that you can get out of all of this is that even the Dolphins probably had officer positions (notice how Chief O’Brien is the only non commissioned officer?).’


Look at those heartless killing eyes.

I can just see this conversation now:

Chief O’Brien: “Yes Sir”

Lt. Commander Dolphin: “And make sure there is plenty of Salmon on that plate Chief, I would hate to fix this navigational Deflector on an empty stomach”

Chief O’Brien: *Muttering* “Damn swimming Cardassians”

There was even a Cetacean Ops jammed somewhere on the Enterprise, and it wasn’t even just mentioned in passing; they actually visited it in “The Perfect Mate”.  At some point Roddenberry had come up with this novel idea that Dolphins would be the perfect candidates to serve as the navigational officers for the Enterprise, you know; because, Dolphins operate in a 3 dimensional realm. I guess no one thought to tell Gene that many other creatures also operate in 3 dimensional space including but not limited to humans who swim (and if we are getting nit picky about dimensions, humans who sit too, but you know what I’m getting at here).

Just some random thoughts I picked up on tonight as  I bask in the notion that I am finally done with all my homework!

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5 Responses to Why did ships in Star Trek have a self Destruct

  1. There were times when they choose either “saucer separation” or “self-destruct” just a little too early in the battle for my taste.

    I do like the way they spoof it on Galaxy Quest – because the ship had never self-destructed on the tv show, when they designed the real-life show the countdown just turned out to be a countdown.

    • fullphaser says:

      I give Galaxy Quest a lot of credit as a comedy. Not only did it do incredibly well at capturing the campy nature of Star Trek, but it was also standing on top of a very solid CGI and acting premise. I wish more the Scary Movies had taken a page from the Galaxy Quest book.

  2. Craig Evans says:

    Have you read David Brin’s “Startide Rising”?

  3. Joe says:

    There is a lot of technology on a starship which you do not want to fall into enemy hands, or even the hands of less advanced beings. Also, I’m sure you have seen how big these ships are. What if the engines were out and it was on a crash course for a highly populated city on a planet. Would it be good to have the option of just blowing it up before impact to save millions of lives? They do have a self destruct on the space shuttle.

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