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Why did Voyager have the tricobalt torpedoes with them in the first episode of the series?

Seven of Nine brought this up in "The Voyager Conspiracy" (Season 6). Was there any truth to what Seven was saying? Was there another legitimate reason that Voyager would have had such torpedoes for their mission in the badlands? Or was it just a question that the producers never answered?

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From List of weapons in Star Trek - Subspace weapons - Tricobalt devices on wikipedia:

The tricobalt warhead is a subspace weapon whose high-yield detonations can tear holes in subspace. Tricobalt devices are not a standard armament of Federation vessels and yields are calculated in Tera-Cochranes, indicating that its mechanism is somewhat similar to the general reaction in a warp field.

Tricobalt warheads are essentially high-yield explosives, an analogue to modern day high-explosives, C4, or H-bombs. I assume because Voyager was expected to see some combat, the Federation loaded it up with a wider array of weapon systems so that the Voyager crew would have the tools necessary to defeat the Maquis menace or whatever. The Maquis movement was a highly motivated insurgent group, so the Federation may have felt Voyager needed more firepower.

The Wikipedia article for Voyager mentions that:

Voyager was launched in 2371. The crew's first orders were to track down a Maquis ship in the Badlands.

I think that generally the Federation does not use these weapons, not because they lack the technology but because it is more destructive than Federation doctrine would prefer.

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    How does that answer the question why Voyager would need those? – bitmask Jun 25 '12 at 15:33
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    The 'why' is because when one knows a unit might see heavy combat, one gives them some extra weapons to even the score and ensure success. I tried to add more of this in my answer. – Mark Rogers Jun 25 '12 at 15:42
  • Yes, that explanation works for me. – bitmask Jun 25 '12 at 15:49
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Voyager's standard complement of weapons includes 42 photon torpedoes and 2 tri-cobalt devices.

The ship is initially equipped with 42 photon torpedoes with type VI warheads and two tricobalt devices, both of which are used to destroy the Caretaker's array. --"Caretaker". Star Trek: Voyager.

By the fourth episode of Voyager known as The Cloud the script reveals:

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.

Since tri-cobalt weapons are super-high yield explosives, the weapons are probably used as high-yield artillery explosives, possibly as mines against chasing starships, or for disrupting subspace preventing ships from easily accessing subspace, at least temporarily.

Such a powerful weapon would make a very fast ship like Voyager able to provide one or two passes of incredible firepower, certainly implied from its design with five torpedo tubes, two forward, two aft and one dorsal I can easily see loading one tri-cobalt weapon in each set, one firing forward, and one as it passes would make a devastating single attack, perfect for a fleet manuever designed to cover a retreat or as an opening volley in a multi-ship conflict.

Like many Federation starships of its time, Voyager was armed with phasers and photon torpedoes and protected by a deflector shield system. The vessels torpedo launchers were compatable with quantum torpedoes as well, with some modification. Additionally, Voyager carried spatial charges and tricobalt devices, the latter of which were not normally carried on Starfleet vessels at the time. (VOY: "Caretaker", "Dreadnought", "Relativity", "The Voyager Conspiracy") --Memory Alpha >Voyager

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Voyager was one of the first of a new Intrepid-class starship which featured a lot of technical innovations not available to previous ships. Such enhancements included:

  • Bio-neural circuity
  • Variable geomety warp nacelles
  • EMH program

In addition to that it was equiped with 2 Tricobalt torpedoes. It is likely all the new Intrepid-class starships were given these as part of their standard weapons compliment. While it was not standard at the time for ships such as the Defiant or the Enterprise, it may have eventually become so.

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