(covers information from several alternate timelines)
A garbage scow was a type of starship designed to carry various unstable waste products, or in general, garbage.
In an alternate timeline in which Jonathan Archer was infected with interspatial parasites, the Enterprise NX-01 followed what the crew hoped was the tracking device they had planted on a Xindi ship carrying shipment of kemocite, which would lead them closer to the Xindi weapon. However, it turned out to be a garbage scow carrying a similar signal. (ENT: "Twilight")
In 2367 the USS Enterprise-D encountered a three century old garbage scow in orbit of Gamelan V, which they later towed into the Gamelan sun. The radiation levels given off by the ship into the Gamelan V atmosphere were 3,000% above normal. (TNG: "Final Mission")
In general, very little is thought of garbage scows. To serve on or command a garbage scow, in both the Federation and Klingon Empire, is considered to be one of the most undesirable postings to receive, next to a commanding a freighter.
In 2152, after being chased off by a group of deuterium miners, the disheveled Klingon Captain Korok cursed them by stating "We can find deuterium anywhere. Yours isn't fit for a garbage scow." (ENT: "Marauders")
During an encounter with a D5 class Klingon battle cruiser, where he claimed to be transporting the Klingon chancellor M'Rek, Jonathan Archer threatened the ship's commander about not mentioning this encounter with his superiors or he might find himself commanding a garbage scow. (ENT: "The Augments")
Klingon XO Korax once insulted the USS Enterprise by describing it as a "sagging old rust bucket" that was "designed like a garbage scow." When asked by Chief Engineer Scott to rephrase his blasphemous statements, Korax clarified that he "didn't mean to say that the Enterprise should be hauling garbage," but "that it should be hauled away as garbage." Following the fight that erupted because of this insult, Scotty justified his actions for starting the fight by stating that it "was a matter of pride." (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles"; DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")
In 2377, after Ranek made a pass at The Doctor, whose program had been downloaded into Seven of Nine's cybernetic matrix, the EMH commented that that kind of behavior would get a Starfleet captain reassigned to a garbage scow. (VOY: "Body and Soul")
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