5

In Star Trek III, during the Enterprise's battle with Kruge's ship, where exactly was the Enterprise hit?

Since they were unable to return fire, couldn't they have used the auxiliary power-control-systems on the Enterprise to return the fire at Kruge's ship?

  • Given the script quote, I felt that this answer was pretty comprehensive. Is there anything else you'd want to see before considering an acceptance? – Valorum Jul 9 '16 at 7:42
12

The original script makes it clear that the ship's phasers and weapons are completely out of commission. It wasn't a lack of power that meant that they couldn't fire, it was damage to the fire-control systems in the automation centre. This damage also knocked out their ability to travel at warp and navigate the ship:

The lights return, EMERGENCY MODE. The ship rights itself. Kirk has been knocked down. Bones to him --

KIRK: I'm all right -- stand by to return fire! Mr. Scott, transfer power to the phaser banks --

SCOTTY: Oh, God, sir, I dinna think so...

KIRK: What's wrong?

SCOTTY: They've knocked out the damn automation center. (pounds his panel in rage) I've got no control over anything! Kirk pales, looks quickly to:

KIRK: Mr. Sulu...?! But Sulu's gesture says he has no control of helm, and Chekov also shakes his head in helplessness. Kirk digests this. Then:

KIRK: (continuing) So... We're a sitting duck.

  • Scotty had automated Enterprise so that they could run the whole ship from the bridge. Usually the Enterprise has hundreds of crew to make things work and keep working, but they only had a few people, all on the bridge. The damage knocked out the automation patchwork that Scotty had in place. While they could have gone and repaired things or operated other controls elsewhere, they'd need to travel around the ship to do so, which would take considerable time. – Dronz Oct 7 '14 at 19:47
  • @dronz - I'm not sure that there's sufficient information in the sole reference to the enterprise having an 'automation centre' (e.g. in the film Star Trek 3) to determine quite what the problem was, or how it was caused. – Valorum Oct 7 '14 at 20:02
  • The "automation centre", or even Scotty automating the ship at the start of ST3 is odd. The Enterprise always runs on automation, for the most part. The bridge hits a button and the ship does something (fires torpedo, enters warp, etc). Rarely has the bridge ever had to relay commands to another part of the ship, then wait for them to do something for an action to happen (such as on the Defiant in DSN:"For the Uniform"). – Xantec Oct 7 '14 at 20:46
  • Yes, it's a special jury-rigged system that Scotty had to set up because of the damage in Wrath of Khan, and his assignment to Excelsior afterwards. Since this wasn't clear to everyone, I've detailed references to it in a new answer below. – Dronz Oct 7 '14 at 20:57
7

The automation system was damaged. It was not a question of having power to fire but of being able to operate the ships system. You might have plenty of energy but if you spinal cord is severed you are not going to be able to walk(ish).

However, the reason this happened is because the Enterprise was not combat ready:

Scotty: The automation system's overloaded. I didn't expect to
take us into combat, ya know...!

So it was not just the physical damage to the ship, it was the damage to the system which was already struggling to run.

Scotty had repaired the ship enough to move and do the mission but had not had enough time or resources to make it ready to fight space battles and it was still badly damaged after the events in Star Trek 2.

  • Oddly the ship appeared more space worthy at the end of ST2 than it did in ST3. – Xantec Oct 7 '14 at 20:47
  • It did a bit. I put that down to a glitch with the fx guys! – Stefan Oct 7 '14 at 21:47
  • It wasn't because of damage that Scotty had to rig the ship that way. It was because there were just seven crew to run her, all on the bridge, including only one engineer on the entire ship. It normally takes dozens if not hundreds to run a starship that size. – John Sensebe Jul 9 '16 at 22:55
3

The Enterprise was hit on the left warp nacelle, but as happens to both ships (and very frequently in Star Trek) random energy discharges occur around the ship, including on the bridge, not only turning out the lights on the bridge, but frying Scotty's automation system with which he has been controlling the ship. It doesn't seem to have done much major damage, but the ship was already heavily damaged in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, and this system is crucial to letting the few people onboard control the ship's systems.

As this wasn't clear to everyone in the answers and comments, I've elaborated the way the film lays this out below (quoted from the "final" script draft at http://www.scifiscripts.com/scripts/Trek/Star_Trek_III.htm:

This is not the first mention of this automation system. At the start of the film, Kirk and Scott discuss this:

KIRK Scotty. Progress report?

SCOTTY I'm almost done, sir. You'll be fully automated by the time we dock.

KIRK Your timing is excellent, Mr. Scott. You've fixed the barn door after the horse has come home. How much refit time till we can take her out again?

SCOTTY Eight weeks, sir. (as Kirk opens his mouth) But you don't have eight weeks so I'll do it for ya in two.

KIRK (considers) Mr. Scott. Have you always multiplied your repair estimates by a factor of four?

SCOTTY Certainly, sir. How else can I keep my reputation as a miracle worker?

KIRK Your reputation is secure, Scotty.

So, the Enterprise was badly damaged in the previous film's events. Kirk is asking Scotty, legendary ship's engineer specialized in this ship, to have the ship ready as soon as possible, by "working miracles."

When they arrive at base, Scotty is reassigned to working on the Excelsior, but he moonlights on the Enterprise to jury-rig an automation system without the benefit of staff. When Kirk and friends arrive on the Enterprise bridge to commandeer her, Scotty says:

SCOTTY As promised, she's all yours, sir. All systems automated and ready. A chimpanzee and two trainees could run her.

In other words, he has managed to rig an automated setup so that despite battle damage, two or three people could operate the ship which usually has a crew of about 400.

Also, just before the Klingon ship fires on the Enterprise, Chekov is unable to raise shields. Scotty says:

SCOTTY The automation system's overloaded. I didn't expect to take us into combat, ya know...!

When the ship is hit:

A blast hits. Scotty's panel sizzles... LIGHT OUT!

This seems to be the locus of Scotty's automation system, or at least his controls for it.

Then:

KIRK'S VOICE Emergency power!

The light return, EMERGENCY MODE. The ship rights itself. Kirk has been knocked down. Bones to him --

KIRK I'm all right -- stand by to return fire! Mr. Scott, transfer power to the phaser banks --

SCOTTY Oh, God, sir, I dinna think so...

KIRK What's wrong?

SCOTTY They've knocked out the damn automation center. (pounds his panel in rage) I've got no control over anything!

Kirk pales, looks quickly to:

KIRK Mr. Sulu...?!

But Sulu's gesture says he has no control of helm, and Chekov also shakes his head in helplessness. Kirk digests this. Then: KIRK (continuing) So... We're a sitting duck.

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