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In Star Trek Voyager The Cloud Chakotay states that they have 38 photon torpedoes at their disposal, and Janeway states that they have no way of replacing them once they are gone.

CHAKOTAY: We have a complement of thirty eight photon torpedoes at our disposal, Captain.

JANEWAY: And no way to replace them after they're gone.

So over the seven years that voyager was in the Delta Quadrant they must have used up the 38 photon torpedoes they had in the countless battles that they were in. So how did they replace them?

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What is special about a photon torpedo that would make them unmanufacturable without specialized tools that Voyager did not have? Everything except the payload should be doable with the push of a replicator button. And the warhead itself is just M/AM is it not? –  John O Sep 24 '12 at 21:24
    
Why so few? At less than 0.75 cubic meters a shot you could fit that complement into a room 3.5 meters on a side. Voyager wasn't all that strapped for space, was it. That doesn't seem likely in an Intrepid class ship with 13 Phaser arrays. Did they get shorted by fleet munitions supply before heading out? That sounds more like the Republic of Cinnabar Navy than Star fleet. –  Wayfaring Stranger Jan 31 at 1:02
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youtube.com/watch?v=PIGxMENwq1k, the deifnitive count of waaaay too many torpedoes. –  JMD Mar 17 at 19:14

5 Answers 5

up vote 53 down vote accepted

TL;DR:

  • They were scrupulously counting torpedoes at least till Season 5

  • After which, they decided to retcon this and allowed more torpedoes to be manufactured using raw materials from the planets, allowing the use of over 90 of them by the end of the series


This article addresses the counts through Season 4: RICK KUZMA'S STAR TREK: VOYAGER STATISTICS. It discusses the uses, as well as a discrepancy that had Borg scanning the torpedoes in "Scorpion, Part II" and reported "32" instead of "13". Formatting and comments mine.

  • They fired one torpedo in "The Cloud", leaving 37.
  • They don't fire another one for almost a full year and then used three to drive off the Kazon in "Alliances"(34).
  • Seven got used in "Dreadnought"(27),
  • three in "Resolutions"(24)
  • ... and then Michael Piller attempted to blunt our nitpicking good time in "Basics, Part I". Three torpedoes were fired at one Kazon ship and then "torpedoes" were fired in dispersal pattern Sierra at another ship. If you'll remember, we were taught at the Academy that the Sierra pattern requires five torpedoes but if you're going to sit in the big chair you learn to improvise. So season two ended with Voyager having no more than 19 torpedoes.
  • ... Stay tuned because we will be vindicated in "Year Of Hell."

  • After all that bingeing, they got through most of 2373 on their negotiation and phaser skills until "Rise" when we saw one torpedo fired at a mechanical asteroid. ... at the end of season three there were n.m.t. 18 torpedoes left.

  • Speaking of the writing staff - season four started with Messrs. Braga and Menosky recalculating several numbers that are dear to nitpickers hearts, the number of torpedoes onboard being one of them

  • Voyager did not have thirty-two torpedoes at the start of the fourth season. If a Borg scan of Voyager showed 32, then there are some large holes in Borg technology. There were still n.m.t. 18

  • Five were fired in "Scorpion, Part II", leaving n.m.t. 13.

  • In "Year Of Hell", we were told that there were 11 torpedoes left. Taking into account dispersal pattern Sierra from "Basics, Part I" and other iffy situations, a difference of two is an acceptable variance. Now - if they really did have 32 in "Scorpion, Part II" and fired 5, that would leave 27. If there were 11 left in "Year Of Hell", how did they squander 16 torpedoes? But I digress.

  • They used 4 as mines in that episode ("Year Of Hell"), leaving exactly 7. But that was alternate reality, so after that episode, 11 are left again.

Now, in actuality, in all the seasons, more torpedoes were used. this is what Memory Alpha has to say:

According to the Star Trek Voyager Technical Guide Version 1.0:
...An Intrepid-class ship didn't carry the material to fabricate casings for these torpedoes, and needed planetary raw materials to make new ones. This would solve the inconsistency problem of the Voyager using over ninety torpedoes during the run of the series, while it was stated in the first season episode "The Cloud" that there was no way to replace the 38 torpedoes they had left at that time.


UPDATE: As per Izkata's helpful link in the comments, the rest of the series was counted as well after S4:

  • Year of Hell I
    Day 32: 11 torpedoes left, 4 used in next attack But: alternate reality, so it doesn't count. 11 left.
  • The Omega Directive
    One torpedo modified and fired. 10 left
  • Night 1 photon torpedo used as "warp flare", 10 (or more) fired at the Malon freighter, 3 to collapse the entrance to the vortex. DING-DONG, we are in negative torpedo count territory!
  • In the Flesh
    19 (normal) torrpedoes and 10 class-3 torpedoes were modified with nanoprobes, so this sets a minimum on the number that was still available (29). This contradicts the count in Scorpion II
  • Dark Frontier
    So many torpedoes were fired that is is hard to count. And what is the point, it is now very obvious that the count isn't consistent any more.
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Please provide a bit more detail, so that this actually answers the question to some degree instead of just pointing to an external reference. –  Iszi Sep 24 '12 at 17:07
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@Iszi - If you don't like the weather in Chicago, wait 5 minutes. –  DVK Sep 24 '12 at 17:12
    
Thanks. On another topic: I wonder where that saying actually originated? It seems to be fairly applicable to a number of locales. –  Iszi Sep 24 '12 at 18:05
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@DVK Here's a more complete list if you wish to update your answer. Unfortunately, I'm at work right now and can't go through it in detail to confirm its accuracy. –  Izkata Sep 24 '12 at 18:15
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I would think that the torpedoes fired in Year of Hell wouldn't count towards the total used, since Captain Janeway resets the timeline at the end of the show… –  Ben Hocking Sep 24 '12 at 22:17

The original notes for the series indicated they were going to use their 38 torpedoes and then improvise. The writers tried to keep an effective count and limit their use of photon torpedoes. This worked until Season 5 and then they realized they would need MORE photo torpedoes if they were to finish the series. They were simply too indispensable a weapon for a ship the size of Voyager.

  • Ex Astris Scientia reports Voyager was capable of replacing and repairing shuttle-craft (a full complement of shuttles was 15 and Voyager has a confirmed losses of at least 10) and damages or loses 15 others along the way.

  • The fabrication of the Delta Flyer in the fifth season, a fully functional, if tiny, support ship merging a variety of Starfleet, Borg and local technologies including the development of Borg photonic missiles.

  • The technical specifications of photon torpedoes seem less stringent than the resources required to make the Delta Flyer, so it can be inferred it should be possible to create new torpedoes if time and opportunity allowed. It was a reasonable assumption Voyager should be able to create their own photon torpedoes with raw materials gathered from planetary stops along the way.

  • So we are forced to assume the initial assessment of not making more torpedoes was a statement made in error (both by the writers and the crew of Voyager) and able to be reversed by considering the ingenuity of a crew stranded far from home.

  • Alternative Admiral Janeway brought the transphasic torpedoes or the technology to create them with her from her timeline.

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Could you link your source? –  Iszi Sep 24 '12 at 17:07
    
Agreed please link your source as DVK seems to think they did use all them. –  Popeye Sep 24 '12 at 17:49
    
@Popeye DVK's answer doesn't say Voyager used (or overused) all of their torpedoes. (Yes, the Memory Alpha article says over 90 were used, but no source or list of their usage is cited - so I'd say the other source is probably more accurate.) It says they were left with 7 at the end of the series. Even the most aggressive count by that narrative would only put them down to six. Also, it seems now that Thaddeus and DVK are referencing the same material. –  Iszi Sep 24 '12 at 18:08
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@Iszi Here's a more complete list, although I'm at work and can't go through in detail to confirm it –  Izkata Sep 24 '12 at 18:13
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First of all, those sites weren't ancient. They were simply sites created before more modern web interfaces, so it is not an issue of quality, you are simply preferring to use one site over another. Ex Astris Scientia is a reputable site, it simply isn't as famous as Memory Alpha. If you chose to use DVK as your answer, I am not offended. I will simply try to refine my answer when time permits. –  Thaddeus Sep 24 '12 at 20:50

It was a statement based on current raw material and energy reserves, but not a statement of capability. Their resources were quite limited at the time. Remember, Neelix was trying to get Janeway to give up her replicated coffee and drink the sludge he makes in the kitchen?

They can replicate pretty much anything because its basically the exact same technology as the transporters. All they need is the 'pattern' or 'blueprint', and they come in standard resolution, and quantum-level resolution which uses far more energy. All that is required to replicate something is the replicator pattern, the resources, and the work involved in building things from parts that Starfleet protocol prevents from replicating fully constructed.

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-1 fur trying to make this a star trek vs star wars argument. (and "rotating frequencies" only works if your ships power output is so low you leave frequency-specific holes in your defense grid. ;-) ) –  DougM Jan 30 at 21:33

IIRC, they can get antimatter from the warp core, which is pretty much the only thing that can't be replicated. Raw materials are not that hard to obtain if you have the capabilities of a Starfleet ship, such as the Voyager.

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How did they replace them? Simple. They purchased them in one form or another. They engaged in trading missions several times in the series. One episode, they dealt directly with arms dealers. It is not a stretch to assume that they either bought the additional photon torpedoes when available from an alien source or bought the raw materials, parts and equipment to fabricate said devices to federation standards.

The 32 scanned by the Borg could indicate that they had acquired a fresh supply of torpedoes or materials by that episode. There are no inconsistencies in this question, only nitpicking and lack of thought by said nitpickers. In fiction they do not show everything, as that would be quite dull and tedious. The audience is left to fill in the blanks with evidence and themes that are shown. We never see them go to the bathroom for example, but it by no means indicates that the entire crew held it for the duration of the series.

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