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There's a scene in the movie where the USS Vengeance is chasing the Enterprise, forcing its way into the Enterprise's "warp bubble".

Khan said it was a unique capability of the Vengeance, but I thought all ships had that capability even in the TOS era? For example, in Arena, the Enterprise chases and trades fire with the Gorn vessel while at warp.

Would Vengeance's Gatling gun and big torpedo launchers give it much of a tactical advantage?

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    When the timeline split off, it's entirely possible that this new alternate universe followed a slightly different technological path. Just because ships have a technology in ST: Nemesis, it has no bearing on what ships have in the new timeline.
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 12:40
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    Nemesis was also quite a few years after TOS-era.
    – Xantec
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 12:52
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    This was routinely done as far back as TOS. In Arena, the Enterprise chases and trades fire with the Gorn vessel. It's just a case of Abrams not doing an ounce of research, as usual. Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 12:59
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    To be fair, the screenplay was by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof
    – Xantec
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 13:24
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    The TOS era is still quite a while ahead of the ST:ID time. In the original timeline Kirk was in his early 30's when he got to command the Enterprise. So it's quite possible that the "special ability" Khan is referring to will become commonplace in several decades.
    – Chahk
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 14:44

3 Answers 3

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Weapons fire during warp is not a 'unique ability' of ships in the original timeline. There are almost too many instances to mention, but the TNG episodes Q Who and New Ground come to mind.

  • In Q Who the Enterprise uses its aft torpedo launcher while fleeing a Borg cube at high warp.

  • In New Ground, Enterprise-D again uses the aft torpedo launcher to try and disrupt the 'warp wave' which is quickly growing beyond its intended scope.

Notably, in a TOS setting, the Enterprise (post refit) fires a torpedo at an asteroid that's trapped in the wormhole they accidentally created during Star Trek: The Motion Picture. They are incapable of shutting down the engines properly so not only are they firing while at warp, they've no choice but to do so.

As mentioned, the TOS episode Arena sees a warp firefight between the Enterprise and a Gorn ship.

So, classically, this is not that big a deal. However, there are enough "new rules" in the tangent universe that maybe this is indeed a unique trait of FederAbrams starships.

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  • Into Darkness took place in 2259. The TOS Enterprise may have been refit before its five-year mission, which started in 2264. It's conceivable that even in the original timeline, this technology did not exist when the Enterprise was first launched.
    – Plutor
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 14:40
  • …the refit occurred closer to 2270-75. Not sure when exactly (could Google it, maybe I will); Wrath of Khan was 2278. But the big refit occurred well after the TOS show's originally stated five-year mission, by which point the ship had already been through the events of Arena.
    – Stick
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 14:55
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    The refit we know of happened then. I'm saying it's possible that in the original timeline this technology wasn't in Ferderation starships in 2259. We have no evidence.
    – Plutor
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 15:36
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    How can one begin to speculate on that which is not backed up in evidence, then? We didn't see any food slots in the Enterprise refit in any of the TOS movies, but that doesn't mean they were removed, right? There are a wealth of time-event differences in Abrams Trek; Praxis is already destroyed, Chekov is too close in age to Kirk, Spock is already aware of (or more willing to openly speak about) the Romulan-Vulcan relationship, and so on. Anachronisms abound! It hardly changes the relevant issue, being that so far we've known ships as least as early as TOS to fire while at warp speed.
    – Stick
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 16:09
  • There was also that one episode of Enterprise in which the NX-01 is being chased at warp speed and has to drop to impulse to use the phase cannons without blowing the ship up (and god forbid the original torpedoes achieve something)
    – IG_42
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 11:21
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Would the Vengeance's Gatling gun and big torpedo launchers really give it much of a tactical advantage?

Yes.

In the alternate reality, this isn’t a well-developed (or at least, well-known) capability, so you have the element of surprise. As pointed out in the comments and Stick’s answer, by this point in the original timeline, Federation ships already had these “advanced warp capabilities”. But in the alternate reality, they apparently don’t.

For Kirk, the idea that you could be pursued at warp speed (let alone attacked) seems impossible:

Carol, we’re at warp; he can’t catch up with us.

Cue something big, dark and scary catching up with them. Indeed, the only reason that the Enterprise isn’t destroyed in seconds is because Carol Marcus and Scotty are both in the right place at the right time. If you were attacking, say, a Klingon vessel, then that’s unlikely to save them.

When Kirk and Spock talk to Khan in the brig, he acknowledges that the course of Starfleet development changed in the alternate reality:

But as a result of the destruction of Vulcan, your Starfleet began to aggressively search distant quadrants of space. My shift was found adrift; I alone was revived.

We’re told earlier in the film that Starfleet confiscated Scotty’s trans-warp beaming equation, and then it ends up with Khan (who’s also working on their top-secret weapons projects). It’s easy to imagine that warp-capable weapons systems were likewise kept secret, so that you can use them for surprise attacks in a war. That one explanation for the discrepancy between timelines.

(And if you kill anybody who witnesses these weapons, then it’s a pretty easy secret to keep.)

In the original timeline, where everybody knows about these weapons and takes appropriate precautions against them, perhaps it’s not much of an advantage. When it comes as a complete surprise to your enemies? Maybe more so.

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  • Of course that makes no sense; obviously another ship can warp in the direction it sees you leave in then "catch up" when you drop out of warp. It was just a silly line Abrams threw in as a joke.
    – Gaius
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 12:23
  • Unless they are traveling at the maximum known warp speed. The line makes plenty of sense.
    – user16696
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 15:36
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The weapons that the USS VENGEANCE fire on the ENTERPRISE: the first two shots are phaser topedos and the others are phaser artillery. The VENGEANCE also has two mounted cannons below the ship which fire quantum beams. The beams can reach up to 50 km. The tactical disadvantage of the weapons are they are controlled on the bridge then connected to the comp room. Anybody can enter the comp room and shut the weapons down.

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