Star Trek: How Radical Is The USS Enterprise Redesign?

Published 7 years ago by , Updated February 23rd, 2014 at 12:33 pm,

ncc 1701 tos Star Trek: How Radical Is The USS Enterprise Redesign?It’s sounding more and more like the original starship USS Enterprise – NCC-1701 has indeed been redesigned for Star Trek (11).

First came a report from IESB a month ago stating that the ship will have a new design in the movie. Now TrekWeb points us to a post over at the Star Trek New Voyages forum where James Cawley claims that he has seen the new starship Enterprise NCC-1701. Cawley is producer of the New Voyages fan-made Star Trek series and plays Captain Kirk as well.

He was not pleased with the new look of the iconic NCC-1701.

On the forum, Cawley makes clear that he wants the film to succeed:

“I understand the reboot thing, it is simply business and a way to hopefully sell many more new action figures and toys based on new designs, it always comes down to the money to be made. I just don’t agree with changing such iconic designs that are so ingrained in pop culture, it is really needless.”

“I would be a hypocrite if I did not believe in recasting these iconic roles, I do in fact support it. I just don’t want the production design radically changed. I see Matt Jeffries’ designs as ‘TIMELESS’ and as ‘Pure Science Fiction’, I feel the Big E as designed by Matt deserves it’s day on the big screen.”

There’s no doubt that Cawley is a huge Star Trek fan as evidenced by the fact that he has put together enough money, people and resources to have created multiple “webisodes” of a series with very impressive sets and production values (they even had George Takei guest star in one episode). There’s no doubt that’s pretty hard core, but I think from his statements that he’s at least open to the concept of rebooting the series, even if he’s not totally in favor of it.

As to his specific thoughts on the redesigned Enterprise:

“Yes, I have seen the New REBOOTED Enterprise… at any rate, I don’t like it. It is supposed to be NCC-1701, no bloody A,B,C,D or E! and it sure does not look like the 1701 I grew up with!”

“I have seen what was purported to be the final design of the New Enterprise, and I don’t like the changes. Period.”

And what does it look like, exactly?

“…all I will say is that the ship design seems to borrow heavily from ‘Contemporary Trek.'”

From his comments it sounds like the ship will retain it’s overall saucer, main hull and twin nacelle configuration but within the confines of those elements you can still have a design that is very different from the original.

For reference purposes, here is a history of the design of the USS Enterprise on TV and in the movies:

The Original Series USS Enterprise NCC-1701
compare ncc 1701 Star Trek: How Radical Is The USS Enterprise Redesign?

This was the first Enterprise designed for the screen. The image above is from the newly remastered version of The Original Series and is a new CGI model. Notice how they avoided the temptation to “upgrade” it in any way. It’s completely faithful to the original.

The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A
compare ncc 1701 a Star Trek: How Radical Is The USS Enterprise Redesign?

This was the upgraded version used in the six films starring the original cast.

The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-B
compare ncc 1701 b Star Trek: How Radical Is The USS Enterprise Redesign?

This ship was highlighted briefly in the awful Star Trek: Generations. It was on it’s inaugural journey and was the ship on which Captain Kirk was supposedly killed.

The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C
compare ncc 1701 c Star Trek: How Radical Is The USS Enterprise Redesign?

This ship was highlighted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Yesterday’s Enterprise where it traveled through time to the future to meet Captain Picard and crew. You can see that it has more in common with the original ship and the 1701-A than it does with the 1701-B. That’s because it was designed in 1990 while the 1701-B was designed in 1994.

The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D
compare ncc 1701 d Star Trek: How Radical Is The USS Enterprise Redesign?

This is the ship that came about 100 years after Kirk’s era. It is monstrously huge and I was always torn regarding the look of it – from some angles it looks great but from others I always thought it look very ungainly.

The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E
compare ncc 1701 e Star Trek: How Radical Is The USS Enterprise Redesign?

This is the version that followed the destruction of the 1701-D. In my opinion it’s ugly as sin and I believe that it is supposed to be even larger than the already huge “D.”

Finally, here is the prime example of a new take on what is supposed to be a ship built 100 years before the NCC-1701:

The Enterprise NX-01
compare nx 01 Star Trek: How Radical Is The USS Enterprise Redesign?

Long time Trek fans went nuts when they first saw this design for the TV show Star Trek: Enterprise. It was obviously based on a flipped over version of an Akira-class ship from the Next Generation era of Star Trek, therefore looking much more advanced than the original Enterprise. This, despite the fact that it was supposed to have been built and designed 100 years before the NCC-1701.

Now granted, there is a brand new production team working on the new film. As far as I know no one associated with the old production is on this including any of the art/design team that defined the look of Star Trek for so long. Still, I think they may go a little bit overboard on the Enterprise redesign in order to make it more suitable for the big screen. I would have been ok with them using the same ship as the frame but adding a bit more detail to the exterior, but I get the feeling that they’re going to fiddle with the core look of the ship.

It will be interesting to finally see what they come up with, but personally I’m nervous about it. Star Trek is almost as much about the Enterprise as it is about it’s crew.

[UPDATE: Here it is, the brand new USS Enterprise]

new enterprise flipped Star Trek: How Radical Is The USS Enterprise Redesign?

Oh, and finally… here is one fan’s interpretation of what a redesigned NCC-1701 should look like (I think I would have preferred this over what they came up with):

Source: Star Trek New Voyages forum (registration required) and images from Memory Alpha

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  1. Vic,

    I’m on a Star Trek movie kick, and watching re-runs of TNG, since the 20 anniversary two or so months ago. I hope this re-launch is great.


  2. As I’ve said before, I’m hopeful but scared. I’m not against a fresh take on the franchise. I actually looked forward to “Star Trek: Enterprise” but they took what was a promising concept and completely murdered it.


  3. They should use the Enterprise that’s been CGI enhanced in TOS remasters.
    It looks great and unchanged from the original model from the 60’s.
    I can think of another Ship that was changed from its original incarnation for a film reboot “Jupiter2″.
    Lost in Space.
    Any Lost in Space fans out there like that new ship?? Or the reboot?
    Changing the ship design is a clear indication that Star Trek Cannon will be tweaked for that new audience there hoping to attract at the expense of the long-time Trek fans.
    I see the same mistakes here that happened with “Enterprise”.
    I personnally don’t see this “key to success” working for this film. The opening weekend will be hard-core fans and trekkers. And if they piss them off the word of mouth and the other films also launched in Dec 08 will destroy Trek11.
    December 08 “The Hobbit” comes out ready to steal all those “new fans”. Not to mention “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Pretty big compatition December 08. I don’t think they fully thought this through. »»

  4. I *hated* the Jupiter 2 redesign. They threw a bone to the fans with the outer “shell” during liftoff that looked like an update of the original one, and when I first saw that I was stoked because I thought it was a cool update of the original.

    But then came that hideous organic monstrosity…

    I know that generally filmmakers like to add more detail to a large model for showing on a big movie screen. They did make changes to the Enterprise-D for the Generations. I wouldn’t mind the addition of SOME detail to the exterior, but a wholesale change to the design bugs me.

    BTW, I’m 99% sure that “The Hobbit” does not come out in December ’08. Maybe ’09…

    And I don’t see “Day the Earth Stood Still” being either a big audience movie or competition for Trek.


  5. i will judge it when i see it .

  6. I’m a fan of Star Trek, but not so religious to the changes of the Enterprise. In fact, I somewhat welcome a little change to the orginal NCC-1701 just not so much the Reborn look. But, I also like Star Trek:TNG, Star Trek: Voyager, and Deep Space 9.:P

  7. The point I made in another Trek thread is that if you really want to make changes, create something completely NEW instead of messing about with the original.

    I don’t mind a few minor “enhancements” but I for one don’t want to see a wholesale redesign. Then again, as Gary said… I’ll just wait to see what they come up with.


  8. Personally,I like the original ship and the NCC-1701-A best.

    I’m not AS familiar with this stuff as some of ya’ll,but I prefer the original TV show and the fisrt 3 films (especially 2)out of the 6 film franchise,FYI.

    I personally am excited about the new take on the franchise,I like the cast except for Simon Pegg (who’s brittish) as Scotty (who’s,ya know,scottish),who might turn out to be a good choice after all,as left field as it sounds. I hope the ship is similar to the versions I mentioned above,cuz when they add TOO much detail,it looks crappy,IMO,less sleek if ya know what I mean.

    Bring on the new flick!

  9. The reason I liked the original was the lack of frilly bits. The NCC-1701-D looked like some kid got into the glitter and spilled it all over the designs and no one figured it out until they built all the models.

    I like the NX-01 design because it looks like a bunch of Navy boilermakers welded it together. Which fits the navy theme. In the next hundred years material technology advanced sufficiently that aesthetics once again took over, so by the TOS era they were experts at hiding seams and sensors. Heck, they even took pride in it.

    Later on, in what some would call the Dark Ages of Roddenberrian aesthetics, the Romulans would point out some minor clauses in the Federation/Romulan treaty which not only forced the Federation not to pursue cloaking technology but to make sure that they had as many blinking lights and reflective surfaces as possible.

  10. J Jona Abrhams sould have come out day one and said “I will not change the look of the Enterprise”. He would have won over alot of old schoolers…and new fans.
    But I see the pre-buzz on this film weighing it down in the coming months.

  11. For some reason I’m really giving these guys the benefit of the doubt instead of unleashing my usual scorching cynicism. :-)

    Of course if they screw it up…


  12. I agree that some things just shouldn’t be messed with, but I reserve judgement until I see it on the big screen. After all, it’s a big budget movie. Everything’s going to have to look updated, even though it’s an era just prior to TOS, or it’ll be laughable. Let’s just hope it isn’t laughable because it’s *too* updated.

  13. Slight error – the Enterprise-B seen in Generations was actually the Excelsior miniature from Star Trek III, designed in 1983-84, well before anything from The Next Generation.

    That said, I would hope the new production team shows due respect to the original designs–we should be able to recognize the classic Enterprise as the classic Enterprise, regardless of any increased detail or minor modifications–but the production design doesn’t need to be slavish in its mimicry. I mean, kudos to James Cawley for his detailed recreation of the original sets in the New Voyages, but a lot of that stuff just doesn’t look realistic now. I’m not expecting to see papier mâché rocks either.

  14. Kyle,

    Damn… missed that. Thanks for pointing it out. Don’t you think that makes the design of the “C” even a bit more confusing?



  15. I don’t like the sound of this. This seems to me like this movie may well go the way of the Transformers movie. As a fan of both franchises I have to say that would not be a good thing. Suddenly I’m having horrifying images of the Enterprise as a skeleton of itself with cutlery welded to the outer hull intended to be phaser banks and photon torpedo launchers.

    I don’t seriously expect them to go that route, but what I’m hearing doesn’t sound like it will be much better.

  16. I have been a Trekker since 1966. As far as I am concerned Star Trek has a history. That history, to me, is as valid as the 1966 Mustang. If you make a movie about the 60’s you can’t redesign the cars that were there without looking foolish.

    Everyone knows what the original Enterprise looks like. To change it beyond cosmetic changes would render the Star Trek Movie not about Star Trek.

    If they wanted to change things they should have gone to the Enterprise-F.

    I really hate to say this but if they change the Big E too much, I will not even bother to see the new movie. Star Trek was created and made by Gene Roddenberry. That is what Star Trek is. If you want to change it into something else have the decency to call it something else.

  17. sarpok, your concerns are not uncommon, at least in my experience. Most of the old-time fans I know do not even like the remastered Star Trek, and that was determined to remain faithful to the original.

    Given that they’re talking about redesigning the original Enterprise, not updating it, and the fact that Sci-Fi Wire recently referred to this movie as a reboot, I can imagine most of the long time fans, especially those from the early days of Star Trek, are going to feel the same way you do.

  18. Personally I’m a big fan of the remastered TOS. I think they took the most conservative approach possible, not changing or enhancing the look of the ship in any way. I own the “regular” version on DVD, and although even that has been cleaned up so much that you can see where Spock’s ears attach, the exterior ship scenes incredibly deteriorated.


  19. Vic you can see from these posts that alot of readers want the Enterprise concept left alone.
    Were all going to wait to see the finished product to fully judge, but its safe to say the older Trek fans won’t like the changes if they occur drasticly.
    And the other thing is this new crowd , I just don’t see them making a difference on this film. Its the old-schoolers and their kids that Abhrams needs to capture to make this a success.
    I’m glad there’s a core group out there that respects the awesomness of the NCC 1701 Enterprise.

  20. Hey man, I’m one of those long time fans, and although I’d love to see something like the remastered version of the NCC-1701 on the big screen I just don’t think it’s realistic to expect that.

    I have a post coming later in the week talking about it.


  21. I know it’s not realistic to expect them to leave the original design alone. After all, the first time the original Enterprise made the transition from TV to movie theaters they redesigned it. Still, I feel there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

    I have no problems with them updating the original design. Making it more detailed and fixing up the design to look better on a larger screen is fine. Completely redesigning it, however, will probably backfire on them.

  22. Quoting a hack that makes embarrassing work of the characters that Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley perfected is shameful.

    Cawley wouldn’t know a good reboot design if it came and gave him a vulcan neck pinch.

  23. I do not Know what the new enterprise should look like! But the new enterprise should look the same bit more detail on the whole ship fitting for a movie. nothing drastic like the motion picture.

  24. Sergio,

    Ideally, I agree with you. I don’t know if they’ll have the self-control to stick to that design concept though!


  25. I wonder if they ever considered leaving the exterior alone and focusing on making updates to the interfaces of the interior. The exterior is smooth and sleek but the computers and screens inside look dated. Replacing thick monitors and big buttons with sleek interfaces without buttons and traditional screens (holographic and motion sensing systems perhaps) would feel more updated. You could still keep the general design though.

  26. Sean, I disagree however with holographic bridge controls.
    That’s too far ahead of what we call Star Trek cannon.

  27. Let’s face it, they have a 150 million dollar budget. I’m all for the reboot concept, I’ll bet the enterprise will look as similar to the original as the new actors will look like the original cast…similar but a new take, a new portrayal. As long as the spin a great yarn it will be cool.

  28. I, like all of you am a Star Trek fan (except DS9 which just didn’t do it for me) I can really understand where all of you are comming from in regards to the new design, however I also know that I absolutly love the new design for the Enterprise. I just think its’ her time to be modernised.

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