The many spaceships seen in the Star Trek films are some of the series’ most talked about highlights.
Many are updated classic designs for modern audiences, while other spaceships have bold, new looks. The ones featured on this list are among the best seen yet in the Star Trek movies.
This Romulan ship is largely ignored by fans frankly because of its association with Star Trek: Nemesis. It’s a shame really because this is one smooth ship with a beautiful low profile. When the Valdore ship was being designed, the creators wanted to make a ship that looked sleeker than the standard D’deridex-class ships seen in the Star Trek spinoffs, while keeping it similar in look to the classic warbird.
They succeeded by creating the Romulan equivalent of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey. It’s more elegant with its fixed wings — and armed with lethal firepower — as it briefly helped the Enterprise E fight Shinzon’s Scimitar in the film’s climax. Too bad, we probably won’t see this type of Romulan ship anytime soon being that the Star Trek Prime universe has been supplanted by J.J. Abrams’ rebooted universe. But there is still hope with the new series coming to the small screen next year. After all, it would be a waste not to use this Romulan design again.
14. Son’a battle cruiser
Just like the new Romulan ships introduced in Star Trek: Nemesis, the enemy ships that premiered in the previous Star Trek film, Star Trek: Insurrection, are just as forgotten by fans for the most part. The one-off villains in the film, the Son’a, used organically shaped spaceships with rounded curves that vaguely resembled seashells.
While many of the Son’a ships had beautiful designs like the Son’a metaphasic collector, the best looking one was the Son’a battle cruiser. Patterned after a boomerang, the battle cruiser was armed with conventional and illegal subspace weapons that nearly took out the Enterprise E. It took some off the cuff, unconventional battle tactics from Commander Riker to save the Enterprise and defeat the two battle cruisers that had chased his ship in the Briar Patch. Even though the villains were forgettable, the ships were not. Perhaps with some clever reworking, the Son’a can make a comeback in some future film or show so that at least we can enjoy seeing these elegant warships.
13. U.S.S. Grissom
The small Federation science ship featured in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was strictly a research vessel. Its mission was to explore the newly formed Genesis planet, and Saavik and Kirk’s son David Marcus where assigned on the ship. As with the Reliant, the distinct outline of the science vessel stood out from the common Constitution-class starship with its small saucer section, which was separated from the secondary hull while attached to the nacelles.
Honestly, the only noteworthy thing about the Grissom is its appearance. Its crew was mediocre, its captain was more comfortable playing it safe than being bold, and it wasn’t even capable of defending itself. With the way it was easily destroyed with one “lucky” shot by a Klingon Bird of-Prey, it’s no wonder that this class of ship was often seen as a throwaway in episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Looking more like a giant mechanical kraken than the mining ship that it is supposed to be, the Narada was one of the deadliest ships shown in the recent Star Trek films. That is because of its lethal array of projectiles that easily shredded apart some of the finest ships in the Federation in the 23rd century. Originally, it was a 24th century-era Romulan mining vessel commanded by Nero, who went on a warpath against the Federation after the destruction of his Romulan homeworld.
Soon after, the Narada and its crew were sucked into a black hole and marooned back into the 23rd century. Once there — and armed with superior futuristic weapons — the Narada created a new timeline where it easily wiped out Federation starships and destroyed Vulcan. Narada deserves to be on this list not just because of its might, but due to its influential role in the future of Star Trek.
11. U.S.S. Enterprise B
Ever since Star Trek: The Next Generation, fans have wondered about the Enterprise ships in between letters A and D. We saw Enterprise C play a pivotal role in the classic episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” but we knew precious little about the Enterprise B. The only thing known was that it was an Excelsior-class starship.
The first film to feature The Next Generation cast, Star Trek Generations, answered some questions about the Enterprise B. Basically, it was a modified version of the Excelsior that was commanded by an inexperienced captain. Also going against the ship was that it still wasn’t completely outfitted when it was unexpectedly put into service for a rescue mission. But it is best known for being saved by Captain Kirk on its maiden voyage. This is particularly poignant, because Kirk gave his life to save the vessel and its crew from being destroyed.
10. Borg Sphere
The Borg are not known for building elegant vessels that are pleasing to the eye. The standard ship the evil cybernetic race used were massive cubes that emphasized function over aesthetics. So it was a surprise to see sphere-shaped Borg vessel in Star Trek: First Contact. Like with the Borg cube, the Borg sphere isn’t stylish or graceful, but its rounded shape stood out immediately when it evacuated from the doomed cube that threatened the Earth in Star Trek: First Contact.
To some the Borg sphere may look like a less refined and tinier version of the infamous Death Star, but we can’t help admiring it. Although it is much smaller than the square-shaped Borg workhorses, the sphere later demonstrated in Star Trek: Voyager that it, too, is a dreadful vessel. It was a wise choice by the showrunners to make use of the sphere, since it added some variety to the Borg fleet without having to spend money having to design new ships to use in the show.
9. U.S.S. Vengeance
Unlike the more benevolent Federation starships, the Vengeance was purely a warship. Secretly built under the supervision of the militaristic Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) in Star Trek Into Darkness, the Vengeance was to be a state-of-the-art vanguard in a coming war with the Klingon Empire.
Even though it had the basic ship profile of your standard Federation starship, the Vengeance was enormous, armed to the teeth, and had a dark hull plating. Overall, the entire ship perfectly reflected the darker side of Starfleet in the rebooted Star Trek universe. Unlike the prototype Excelsior, which was supposed to be the next pride of Starfleet, the Vengeance clearly demonstrated it was superior in every way to the much smaller Enterprise. It was faster and more powerful, and it came dangerously close to destroying the Federation flagship. By the end of the film, the Vengeance proved its mettle, and hopefully will reappear in some form in later adventures.
8. U.S.S. Kelvin
The small but scrappy Starfleet vessel quickly found fans after its brief appearance in the first Star Trek reboot film. Unique among standard Starfleet ships in that it had only one warp nacelle, the starship was also the birthplace of future Enterprise captain James T. Kirk.
This occurred after the Narada’s first appearance in the beginning of Star Trek, which altered the timeline (the new one was named after this ship) and the encounter between the two vessels resulted in the Kelvin’s destruction. After a savage opening salvo and the death of its captain, the Kelvin was suddenly commanded by Kirk’s father (who looked an awful lot like Thor). Buying time for his family and crew as they evacuated the Kelvin, George Kirk stayed behind aboard the doomed ship and valiantly took on the more powerful Narada and eventually rammed it against the Romulan ship. Even though it was outgunned by the ship from the future, the Kelvin damaged it enough to buy time for its crew to escape — along with an infant James Kirk.
7. The ships of the Starfleet armada in Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: First Contact featured an exciting space battle early in the film where a Starfleet armada fought a Borg cube that threatened Earth. What made the battle so visually arresting was the sight of new and eye catching starships. Until then, the only starships fans saw in the Star Trek spinoffs and films were mostly variants of the Excelsior and Reliant.
Unlike the infamous Battle of Wolf 359 (whose aftermath we saw in The Next Generation episode “The Best of Both Worlds, Part II”), the Starfleet armada in Star Trek: First Contact put up a decent fight against the Borg. It was a proof that the Federation had evolved and become more capable of defending itself. Not only did these ships have fresh and innovative designs, but they were armed to kick some serious butt. Among the most notable vessels shown were the Akira and the Steamrunner-class starships.
6. U.S.S. Excelsior
It was supposed to be the next generation of Federation starships. Larger and more sophisticated than the aging Constitution-class starships, the Excelsior was the new pride of Starfleet. However, in its debut in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Excelsior turned out to be an Edsel, thanks to some sabotaging by Scotty. This resulted in the starship literally stopping dead in its tracks as it failed to capture the Enterprise, which was stolen by Admiral Kirk.
Nonetheless, the ship had merit. Many fans liked the new, if bulkier, starship design, and the ship would turn up again in later films and TV shows. Finally, under the command of Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the Excelsior redeemed itself as it came to the aid of the Enterprise. It turned out to be a well-designed starship and its class would continue to be used well into the 24th century as seen in the Star Trek TV spinoffs
5. U.S.S. Enterprise E
The unveiling of a new Enterprise design in any film or TV show is always supposed to be a monumental event. it allows fans the opportunity to study the new ship design and be awed. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen for the Enterprise E when it premiered in Star Trek: First Contact.
When it first appeared, there was hardly any establishing beauty shots or dramatic pauses to allow us to admire the new design. Instead, director Jonathan Frakes ditched the glamour shots and jumped right into the story. While this helped make Star Trek: First Contact an exciting Trek entry, the impact of the ship’s debut was dampened, and that’s part of the reason why it’s not as revered as other Enterprises. It’s a shame, because the Enterprise E has one of the most underrated ship designs in Star Trek. More of a warship with cutting-edge weapons like quantum torpedoes, but still having the sleek elegance of Federation starships, the Enterprise E deserves more acclaim.
4. U.S.S Enterprise Reboot
When J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek franchise with Star Trek, right away he knew that the unveiling of a new Enterprise was a big event. When that happened onscreen in Star Trek as Kirk and McCoy first viewed the completed ship, we were just as awed as they were.
Basically, the design of the new Enterprise follows the classic look of the original Enterprise. Saucer attached to secondary hull and warp nacelles, but this Enterprise isn’t some leisurely exploration vessel. It’s decked out with the latest in Starfleet technology while following the basic theme of the original ship. While paying homage to the original, this new version violently launches off into bold new directions with the explosive way it jumps into warp space. Also, many scenes involving the ship are filmed so kinetically, that it’s easy to think of this Enterprise as more of a muscle car than a Rolls Royce, which is how earlier versions of the Enterprise seemed in comparison.
3. Klingon Bird-of-Prey
Until the Klingon Bird-of-Prey made its debut in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the only Klingon ships ever seen were the common D-7 battlecruisers. But the smaller, more agile looking warship made quite an impression with its multi-positional wings that made it look like its namesake. Helping that image were the bright red hull plates on the wings that looked like feathers and the ship’s fearsome firepower.
Able to be used as a scout ship thanks to its cloaking ability and for other purposes such as escort, raids or patrol, the Klingon Bird-of-Prey became a mainstay in the Klingon fleet for decades. The predatory-looking ship often turned up in other Star Trek films and TV shows, most notably in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In that film, Kirk and his crew used a commandeered Klingon Bird-of-Prey (renamed the HMS Bounty) as their transport vessel when they time traveled to Earth in the 20th century. Many of that film’s best f/x scenes featured that hardy vessel.
2. U.S.S. Reliant
The Reliant made Star Trek history because it was the first Federation starship that had a distinctly different design than the commonly used Constitution-class starship. With its secondary hull now part of the saucer and the nacelles hanging below the ship, the Reliant starkly stood apart in its profile from the Enterprise in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Just as impressive was the Reliant’s firepower and durability when it attacked the larger Enterprise.
Known in Star Trek canon as a Miranda-class starhip, the Reliant was was hijacked by Khan Noonien Singh and his people during the film. Khan then used the ship to inflict heavy damage on the Enterprise in an attempt to kill his hated enemy, James T. Kirk. Of course, Kirk and the Enterprise won in the end, but the Reliant nevertheless became popular with fans. Later, as the ship design appeared in other films and TV shows, it was clear that the Miranda-class starship was a reliable workhorse for Starfleet.
1. U.S.S. Enterprise A
Sometimes, the best design is the original, and this ship is a textbook example. The Enterprise that was refitted in the Star Trek: The Motion Picture is the original one seen in the classic TV show. Sleeker, modernized, more refined and detailed, this Enterprise got a top-to-bottom refurbishment while still keeping its basic shape. The first film emphasized the refitting with long, passing shots of the Enterprise in drydock as Admiral Kirk inspects it, which was one of the best highlights in an otherwise dull film. This gave audiences the opportunity to spend time admiring the fine detailing of the refitted Enterprise. It was in the next film that we got to see how tough and versatile the ship was, and we grieved along with Kirk when it was actually destroyed in the third film.
But like a spacefaring phoenix from the ashes, the Enterprise would soar again. As a gift to Kirk and his crew for saving Earth in Star Trek IV, Starfleet renamed another Constitution refit vessel as the Enterprise A. That ship and its gallant crew would go on to play a pivotal role in the Khitomer conference, which secured a lasting peace between the Federation and the Klingons. There can be no greater legacy for this historic ship. Though the other ships named after this one have their merits, they just can’t quite measure up to the Enterprise A’s careful balance of form and beauty.
Have any of your favorite ships featured in the films made this list? Or are they listed higher or lower than what you would’ve place them? Do you think any of the new ships seen in Star Trek Beyond should be on this list? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section and make your opinion known!
Star Trek Beyond hits theaters on July 22, 2016.