Originally Posted by Roysten
As the Excelsior class is still active well into the 2370s I have to wonder whether something bad happened to the B which meant the C was commissioned. Still, it has potentially over 35 years in service if it ends its run a few years before the C.
While starship classes have long life-spans of a century or more these days, individual ships within those classes may have varying life-spans depending on their missions and how much wear and tear they experience. I think it's quite feasible that the Enterprise
-B lasted more than 40 years--a few more years than the original--and was retired in a ceremony at Earth with the Enterprise
-C commissioned a few months later in another ceremony.
One thing I've been wondering is that as the Enterprise is always seen as a flagship perhaps Starfleet decides to decommission flagships when a better design is available, as the Ambassador class would have been on it's arrival in the 2320s. This could perhaps allow the Enterprise B to be decommissioned after a long and successful run without adding to the bad statistic of Enterprise related destruction. Just a thought, is this anything like what happens in the real navies of the world?
Not really, but then Starfleet doesn't do everything
like the real navies of the world either. In a real navy, a flagship is just any vessel than an admiral chooses as his command ship (it could be of any design, big or small). In Starfleet
, however, "the Federation flagship" is a term used to describe the capital ship that will represent the Federation in the more high-profile interstellar affairs, IMO. I think it's a unique term to Starfleet and to the Federation.
As far as the Ambassador-class, there really isn't a canonical date to when this design was introduced, except that it was in service around the 2340s and was still seen as late as the 2360s. When it was time for the Enterprise
-C, I think it was just a case that the Ambassador-class was simply there
at the time and it was a no-brainer to make one of those ships the fourth Enterprise
. A few years earlier or later, though, a different design might have been chosen, IMO...
It can be argued that Starfleet has way too many starship designs, but it could be following a policy of building new designs to incorporate new technologies--rather than incorporating new technologies into existing designs like the Klingons appear to do.