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SS Beagle

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SS Beagle
Class: Class 4 stardrive vessel
Owner: United Federation of Planets
Operator: Merchant Service
Status: Destroyed (2262)

The SS Beagle was a Federation class 4 stardrive survey vessel that was in service with the Merchant Service in the mid-23rd century. The Beagle had a crew of forty-seven and was commanded by R.M. Merik; his flight officer was William B. Harrison.

In 2262, the Beagle was badly damaged by a meteor in the 892 system. Captain Merik and a landing party beamed down to the star's fourth planet to obtain iridium ore for repairs.

While on the planet, they were met by the local inhabitants, led by Proconsul Claudius Marcus. The Proconsul believed it would be unfair, even ruinous, to his highly conservative society if word of its existence should be carried elsewhere. Merik, convinced that this fine world should not be contaminated, had the remainder of his crew beam down. Some of the crew took to their new home and became citizens, but the others, who refused to adopt the ways of this society, were thrown in prison. Regarded as captured barbarians, they were forced to fight as gladiators.

Abandoned, the wreck of the Beagle drifted for six years before it was found, approximately 1/16th of a parsec away from 892. Its debris field included portions of its antimatter nacelles and the personal effects - but not the bodies - of the crew.

The USS Enterprise came to 892-IV to discover their fate. Merik for one had done very well for himself, having secured a high place in imperial politics. As for his crew, Merik told the Starfleet landing party that "those who were able to adapt are still alive". Kirk and Spock, however, witnessing the death of Harrison on Roman television, had heard him sports-commentated as "the last of the barbarians". Were there other Earthmen, unknown to the gladiatorial audience? Or was Merik speaking ironically, considering himself to be the only one "able to adapt"? Kirk did not press him.

Merik would have been removed from the planet to face charges of violating the Prime Directive had he not died saving the Enterprise landing party from Marcus and his machine-gun-toting police. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses")

An early draft of the script named this vessel the USS Lord Nelson.
The name Beagle is probably referenced in honor of the ship used on an expedition to the coast of South America between 1831-1836. Notable scientist Charles Darwin was one of the scientists on board the HMS Beagle. He pioneered the idea of biological adaptation, or speciation, and is also associated with the phrase "survival of the fittest".

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