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The Kelvin is splendid at shooting the Narada's missiles when the missiles are aimed at escaping shuttlecraft. The Enterprise can shoot the Narada's missles when the missiles are aimed at the Jellyfish, even after just coming out of warp.

But when those missiles are aimed at the Kelvin or the Enterprise themselves, Starfleet phasers seem pretty rubbish at the job of missile interception.

I imagine that, out-of-universe, the answer is that the needs of the plot outweigh the need to be consistent. But was there an in-universe, even non-canon explanation ever given?

  • Because JJ Abrams rewrote ST history, might as well make it exciting while he does it '-) – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jun 7 '15 at 18:33
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    In both cases, the ships were heavily damaged & manned by wounded/inexperienced crew. I just assume that, under better conditions, they could shoot down the missiles with far greater accuracy. In both cases, we're not seeing the crew or ship at their best. – Omegacron Jun 8 '15 at 18:39
  • @Omegacron Combined with Richard's answer below, I think I'd accept this. It might be a bit of a stretch -- since the Enterprise had the same inexperienced crew when it protected the Jellyfish by intercepting missiles. But maybe in the meantime they took a peek at the phasers' user manual. And maybe the rest of the fleet was caught too much by surprise. And maybe Spock was being very careful when he didn't want to re-engage the Narada with just the Enterprise. But it helps move it toward excusable plot convenience, I suppose. – Darth Wedgius Jun 10 '15 at 2:10
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Actually this is pretty nicely described in the film's official novelisation;

When the Kelvin is initially attacked by the Narada, the high-speed missiles take them completely by surprise. Not only do they only have precious few seconds to react, but the missiles then split unexpectedly and then travel straight through their shields, courtesy of borg-tech:

“Evasive pattern delta five. Return fire, full spread! Prepare to—!” There was no time to prepare. Unexpectedly, the incoming weapon seemed to shatter. Instead of a single missile it devolved into a spray of smaller yet still immensely powerful projectiles. Slamming into the Kelvin, the unknown weapons ripped open several decks before finally concluding their path of destruction near the main engine room.

The second time around though, they're ready for them and begins targeting the launchers themselves and anything that comes out of them:

“If we’re going down, maybe we can take these bastards with us.” He leaned slightly forward. “Mister Pitts, set autopilot. Plot a two-minute intercept course. We know where they’ve been firing from. Target those weapons systems and let’s see if we can buy the shuttles some time.”

  • This addresses the initial difficulty of the Kelvin defending itself pretty well, and as far as that goes is what I was looking for. But it doesn't address why the Kelvin couldn't defend itself when Nero started lobbing missiles after Captain Robau's death, or why the Enterprise (or the rest of the fleet) couldn't defend itself. I'll upvote it, but probably won't be accepting this as the full answer. – Darth Wedgius Jun 7 '15 at 19:35
  • @DarthWedgius - After Robau's death, the crew abandoned ship. That included Mr Pitts; the guy pointing the weapons. As regards the rest of the fleets in orbit around Vulcan and Earth, the Narada is described as firing a "continual stream" of missiles. They only need to get lucky once. – Valorum Jun 7 '15 at 19:42
  • Yes, but to me that kind of implies that they couldn't defend the Kelvin at that point. – Darth Wedgius Jun 7 '15 at 19:44

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