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. And, yes, I realize I’m being presumptuous, not having seen the movie and all. But..
    A. It’s what I do best :-)
    B. Have you seen that…that THING at the top of the page that goes that by some oversight was given the name Enterprise?

  2. They rebooted James Bond. I noticed they did not redesign the Aston Martin DB5.

    That would obviously be stupid- a DB5 is a DB5

    An NCC-1701 is an NCC-1701.

    End of argument.

    Unless they are changing the number too…

  3. @bob

    Uh, your Casino Royale analogy isn’t very good. They didn’t use a 1960s Aston Martin in the film, did they? They used a 2008 model, which is an updated version of the original.


  4. Hey Vic,

    I don’t have a problem per say with the one nacelle design of the USS Kelvin in Star Trek XI and I own most of the technical manuals. Those technical manuals were considered non-cannon, because of certain rules Gene had laid out for his various production teams over the years. I’m never certain about anything when it comes to Trek, because there will always be a fan who knows more than I do. I won’t stake my life on this, but there wasn’t one Star Fleet ship with just one Nacelle ever featured on any of the shows or even in any of the movies shot previously to Star Trek XI. I may be wrong. Gene had theories about how things worked with warp technology and probably favored symmetrical designs. He just had certain rules that were to be followed when it came to his baby. Star Trek was Gene’s life-long creation. He saw it through four decades as both a producer and consultant. I wish he were still around. He’d definitely have something to say about Star Trek’s current situation. I just think that it’s a cheap shot at Gene Rodenberry and his vision to take what you want and leave the rest. It’s ok to change some things. The new movie will probably succeed in it’s own right, but what will it say about Star Trek in general? Is the original Star Trek timeless because of it’s designs, technology, ideology, or is it something else? Many Trek fans turned their noses up at Star Trek The Next Generation. Some didn’t want a Trek without the original series’cast. Gene even brought in DeForest Kelley for the premiere of TNG to try and tie the two series together. How are they going to do the same with Leonard Nimoy and Star Trek XI or “Star Trek” as they’ve plainly named it. It’s clear from just the title that they are indeed rebooting the franchise. Not for the current Star Trek fans, but for the younger generation. Maybe they should have named the movie Star Trek: Recycled for the Next (Younger) Generation. Sex and special FX sell. I just hope this new movie isn’t as empty and cold as Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s script for Transformers. Oh, and Vic… I was just being sarcastic about the use of bullet-firing guns instead of phasers… it’s something they did with the remake of Battlestar Galactica to give it a more visceral feel. Sci-fi, it seems, now has to appeal to the first-person shooter fans who are anesthetized to blood and extreme violence… meaning more directors wanting CGI decapitations and dismemberment. By the way, did you notice how big that damn saucer section looks in proportion to the rest of the ship? It’s hideous!! lol …and they say they used reference materials from previous Trek to come up with this hodgpodge. Oy vey!

  5. As glad as I am to see that Rick Berman no longer helms STAR TREK, I have deep reservations about Abrams approach, and I’m not exactly taken to this ship.

  6. The new Enterprise design is FUGLY. Who is going to buy toys of that nasty looking ship? The “neck” is too far back making the deflector dish stick too far out. The warp nacelles are needlessly thick and short. Why did they butcher the Enterprise? They could have just refreshed the original TOS design like in the fan-made picture and it would have looked better. I hope this Enterprise is a prototype that is destroyed in the movie because it’s way too ugly. This reminds me of the Superman Returns movie and how they screwed up the costume by making the symbol small and the suit navy blue and maroon. If you want to draw Trekkie’s in to watch the movie – you don’t RAPE the Enterprise.

  7. In reply to KEL’s statement about Scotty being Scottish: “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)”

    James Doohan was actually a Canadian actor, not Scottish by birth. So having an English Actor playing him now is actually closer to being accurate by geography alone. Anyway, had to let that out as a Canadian myself. Props.

  8. What are you talking about? Enterprise model E was the best. It looks better than any of the other enterprises, in my opinion.

  9. LOL It looks like the rebooted Enterprise will fall apart if it tries to go to warp. It’s so out of proportion. The rear hull cannot support the weight of the Warp Nacelles – I don’t know how the ship made it from the ground to orbit without falling apart.

  10. The new Enterprise is the Cloverfield Monster!!

  11. you realize the ships are built in orbit right? Therefore the ship doesn’t deal with gravity like that. Also the complaint about the differences between the B and C versions is dull. The B was built on the Excelsior design and they found the Constellation design was better off. I am a huge fan of both the books and the movies from ST the Motion Picture to ST Nemesis and the books there after. You can not hold a series and saga as old as Star Trek to the same old 1960 looking style. through the ages they made the ships bigger, more technology that was developed went into it. It’s not about just the old fans its about getting a new fanbase at the same time and a TRUE fan would stay true to the story, the adventure, and the exploration and not hold it down because “It doesn’t look the same”. All things change. And as for the NX-01, that was the first Warp capable earth exploration vessel and it looks just like a strapped together ship. And as for the Jupiter 2 in Lost in Space, yet again with the time and technology we found anything we would design for the journey wouldn’t look like a 1960 space ship.

  12. alrighty, an intresting thread to say the least. Firslty, the pic of the new Enterprise looks suspiciously different to my eyes than the one that appears on the recent trailer. But that aside, let’s all be realistic here. It seems to me this is a damned if you do/don’t situation. Whereas a reboot of the franchise is an intresting concept, perhaps we are reading too much into it. Almost more than any other film franchise, Trek is among the most notorious for contradicting itself, and creating Dyson Spere size loop holes in it’s plot and canon.
    Would anyone really find, that almost 40 years after TOS, that anyone would find big boxy hallways that looked like a hotel, and a plywood bridge with modified picnic table chairs, and lights and switches that do not give any sort of lingual cues about what they are or the information being displayed would be realistic 200 years in OUR future?
    If we accept a modern-era movie to be made based upon TOS, then it seems that we must also accept a certain amount of creative liscence to be taken for a new era. Would the original Constitution design and velour sweatshirts appear on the big screen as anything less than totally cheesy? I think not.
    However, this “creative liscence” should be handled with the utmost care. TOS is basically “The book of Genesis” for the entire franchise. Keep in mind, though, that Roddenberry was inhibited at the time by production budgets, casting costs, special affects budgets and the television standards of the time. Us in this era don’t suffer as much these limitations, so it is logical to conclude that the same story told in this era will appear and be quite different, possibly even shocking or sacraligious to seasoned fans.
    Now on to #%@*$ Rich Berman. I think it best to remember, that aside from a sci-fi tv show, that TOS was also an action-adventure series as well. There was never a Kirk-Alien fist fight that Gene didn’t like. It was almost painfully obvious at which point B-man took the reigns by merely the series content of TNG alone. The over ascension of the human race to the point of near Godhood with technology that could (and often did) virtually anything; giving the federation near Superman status. This made the only plausible villians to the federation so powerful it was virtually beyond imaginings. Also, I think that Berman overcompensated for the lack of action-adventure in the series by, yes, you guessed it: ALL OUT WAR! Unfortuanetly, this angle all but ended the episodic nature of Trek, and converted it into an ongoing story line.
    Another question I have is, what happened to the “five year mission?” This concept was never mentioned in the new era series. Would it then also be logicall to conclude that all starships were not subject to this five year mission even in the TOS age. Therefore, it would be impossible to blindly assume that Pike, or even Kirk for that matter commanded a five year mission other than in the original series? Could thier tenures of command been similar to Picard’s seemingly life-time appointment?
    Remember, they were trying to force Kirk into retirement and/or promotion whilst the characture was roughly the same age as Picard at the time? Does it seem rational that Starfleet would be trying to decommission the ship, crew and captaincy of a man who was one of the, if not THE most influencial and predominate human beings who has ever lived? But now I am wondering. In conclusion, if there is an attempt to modernize Trek and utilize today’s budgets and technologies to make it bigger and better than ever, I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt. And remember, TOS had always been rather tounge-in-cheek. Something that was lost in the latter series. I say, go get em. It’s not like it’s gonna screw canon up more than it’s already has been: time and time again.

  13. The utter disrespect of canon doesn’t stop with the illogical Enterprise design changes. JJ Abram’s mutilations run rampant with a myriad of other details. The new film depicts the original Enterprise being wholly constructed in Iowa. On the ground. All existing Trek texts clearly describe NCC-1701 being built at Starfleet’s San Franciso Naval shipyards with the sections built on Earth then assembled in orbit. In Trek canon, James Kirk does not assume command until the vessel’s third 5 year mission, while the new film seems to portray Enterprise as an entirely new vessel when he steps on board.

    Abram’s Trek also portrays Spock and Kirk as equally young and graduating from Starfleet Academy at the same time. Neither is accurate. Spock served aboard Enterprise for 10 years under Captain Pike- part or all of that time as Science Officer. So he is clearly ahead of Kirk in age, academy graduation and Enterprise experience.

    Unless this new Trek film contains a credible polution/alteration of the time-line which would have dramtically changed the historical details and appearance of the past, none of these violations of canon are justified.

  14. Also… this new movie will merely pull from the same core of Star Trek fans that all the others did. Just because JJ Abrams is directing will make no difference. If someone dislikes Star Trek and never saw any of the previous movies, they will not magically rise and see this one. Reboot, retread, whatever. If it says Star Trek, they will be instantly uninterested. I have an 18 and a 16 year old and they are sci-fi movie fans– but Star Trek has never held interest for them. Nothing Paramount has done in its marketing has sparked any desire in them to see this new Trek feature. They equate ST with geeky nerds who need to get a life. Most of their friends feel the same way. The studio’s strategy to appeal to a younger audience will fail because they will never overcome the “geek” factor Star Trek evokes. It’s simply too niche, to outside the mainstream and frankly, it’s a cultural pop joke. No amount of money or sexy actors or media blitz will change that image. So this film, while hailed by critics will not pursuade a new audience. This film will only preach to the choir, who are all wearing pointed ears and Starfleet uniforms. In public. While the rest of America continues to roll their eyes, chuckle… and buy tickets to Terminator 4.

  15. I beg to differ. I beieve like the new Star Wars movies, that this movie will bring forth a new set of viewers. Yes the people that stand in uniform and where their costumes are… bad.. so were the hundreds of people at the Star Wars movies if you recall. So your kid and his squad won’t watch it, not a loss, when you consider the children of the Star Trek era, the same people who have recently gotten into it, and the fact that the ship doesnt look like something you’d make out of legos. This movie has great benefits and the graphics are equally as strong. Don’t doom a movie simply because of the history. The only movie that I didn’t like recently was Insurrection.

  16. O.K. lets get to it. Lets not forget that DS9 started the downward spiral of trek culminating with “that thing they called Enterprise. If JJ Abrams saw nothing other then Scott Bakula at the helm, I cant blame him for a few thousand changes. I am an original fan, I am certain if the original series was aired closer to the release of Starwars, it would have a vastly different look. If Titanic left 30 minutes later, it may not have sunk. Get it. The best design for the Enterprise was no doubt the original movie version. some smart designer got tired out of trying to take the sag out of thoughs nasels. And I do agree the new design is a bit over the top, but I remember the first SNG episode, and how I couldnt swollow the Enterprise E for at least 1 season. And yes it is a good idea to have gotton the kitchen chairs of the ship. Always wondered why Kirk had a rock steady seat and everyone else fell over during an ion storm. unfare.

  17. Yes DS9 did start the “Star Trek what” thought. And I agree with everything you said. I just think a new design scheme had to be created and this isn’t that bad, it’s a ship, it flies through space, and they fight other ships. Is that one ship so meaningfull? Not to overly correct you but the starship used in the Next Generation Series was the 1701-D aka Galaxy Class. Also, I recall many episodes where just one phaser blast knocked Ura and Spock around the bridge… but thats out school Star Trek. Just think of the anger when they made the Lost in Space movie… I think some people would still rather have those giant car phones than the new ones.

  18. I saw the new movie Friday night and it was great. I’m a moderate fan of the series, in that I like watching si-fi but don’t go around with my own star fleet uniform etc.. The box office take speaks for itself… The movie is well done and very exciting and enjoyable. though it does totally change history which…. guess what now opens up the future for totally new stories and adventures…

  19. Yes indeed,

    I went to see “star trek” and I was not impressed. This dumbed down illogical version of trek is quite interesting in that it follows the new fad of trashing popular cult media. While disregarding those who helped to maintain its relevance and quality. However as…. Steve said,
    May 10th, 2009. (Above) “The box office take speaks for itself…” Yes, and of course if people pay money for something, that surely means that its good, Right? I think those who are still capable of thinking follow my point. The movie wasn’t made for ‘US’, it was made for people like “Steve” that is quite clear.

  20. No, your name says it all, this movie was made to bring in a new audience because hard core fans like you and I are a dying breed. They need to refresh and reload and considering the perspective imagine not ever seeing the other movies, this one would do wonders.

  21. Just got finished watching the movie and I think it was great. All those negative comments and it may not have been old school Star Trek but it was never supposed to be. And the story behind Nero’s ship was great. How were people confused on the weaponry? Did you even pay attention to the movie? And this love twist, remember everything is different. Things that weren’t supposed to happen yet have occured. Just thought for the mind.

  22. I am a huge fan of TOS, not so much in the details (though I know a few) but the spirit of the show. I was never a fan of the next generation series. I always thought those shows a little too cerebral and not exciting enough for me to care. To me the movie is the best of all possible worlds. It carries the hopeful message that is Star Trek, but also packages it in a modern and more importantly exciting way. The character development in the relationship of Spock, Kirk and Bones is brilliant that in its familiar while simultaneously completely new. I can finally look at Star Wars fan smugly and think, “don’t you guys have some little movies too?”

  23. “Dumbed down illogical version” you say? :Hard core fans are a dying breed” you say? Then I guess you won’t consider me a hardcore fan when I say I LOVED the new STAR TREK! And given the premise, that history changed 25 years before Enterprise’s first mission, would it not be illogical to think that the ship we see onscreen would be identical to the original 1701? What would the odds be? Yes, I thought she looked awkward at first glance, but the more I saw the more I loved. To put the original NCC-1701 on the big screen would require a story where we KNOW all the cast lives, because we’ve already seen their history- how much fun is that? (Can you say “The Phantom Menace”?) I think this was a frakking brilliant way to re-open the door to all kinds of new adventures, new life, and new civilizations!
    Also- stay with me here- ALL THE ADVENTURES OF START TREK STILL HAPPENED JUST AS WE SAW THEM BEFORE, and here’s why. Remember the TNG episode “Parallels”? All kinds of alternate Enterprises from parallel universes kept popping up? (Well, it’s more complex than that, but you get my point.) Now REALLY stick with me here… when Nero and Spock get pulled through the event horizon and time-travel, this creates a parallel universe 129 years earlier where Kirk’s father is kiled by Nero. This is a quantum event in that it is possible that it did NOT happen, too… so two different quantum universes are created, the other one being the one where Nero does NOT go back in time… and we’ve already seen the events in that universe! (ie, all the series and movies up to this date) It’s even possible- no, wait, it’s mandatory- to imagine a universe where Spock left for Romulus a day earlier, his mission succeeds, and the planet is not destroyed, so Nero doesn’t go back in time after seeing his home planet fry… he just goes on being a simple miner. Anyway, the point is that ALL these universes exist, and we’re now seeing one we haven’t before! (Just think “Mirror, Mirror” on a grand scale!!!)

    Live long and prosper, y’all!!

  24. Just think “Mirror, Mirror” on a grand scale.

    Well put, sir.

  25. Thank you very much, sir. Nice to know I’m not alone here. Also, I apologize for my typing error which resulted in Star Trek being referred to as “Start Trek”. I just get so excited sometimes, my fingers fly faster than I realize.

    I note that Abrams has been quoted as saying he’s open to reintroducing Khan in (I’m going to call it) the “New Mirror Universe”. This would negate one of my own ideas, that just before he leaves, Spock Prime (aka Future Spock) would tell Kirk- “By the way, if you encounter a sleeper ship named Botany Bay, save yourself a lot of trouble and fill it with torpedoes first chance you get. And steer clear of planets in the Ceti Alpha system!”

  26. I am a huge Trek fan and I liked the new movie a lot. Just because things won’t play out the same way in the “quantum reality” doesn’t mean you still can’t have great stories. Take, for instance, the Khan scenario mentioned by Paul; let’s say that the Botany Bay is found by another starship and Khan takes over. The Federation contacts the Enterprise and informs Kirk that communication with starship “whatever” has been lost and Kirk goes to the last known position of the ship. The only thing he finds is wreckage from a late 20th century vessel. They eventually locate the ship by it’s transponder single and after finding out the damage that Khan has done. They engage and finally destroys Khan. This is one of many possible stories that could be written, like Khan allying with Romulus, or the Klingons (since they would know about augments already). Nomad is still out there as well as the whale probe, Zepphram Cochran, Vger, etc… These could lead to some great movies with the right writers.

  27. Ok…two points….

    1) ST Generations was awesome. I don’t know what movie you were watching…
    2) The Enterprise E is the best of them all! Seriously…. You must not be a true Trekkie.

  28. OK, so… your opinion is valid, but mine is not.

    Gotcha, just wanted to be clear.



  29. Glancing up the page at some earlier comments, ie way before I posted any remarks, it seems that several people need to clarify their desires. Joe seemingly griped first that the ship doesn’t look enough like the original Enterprise- but a few sentences later, complained that the saucer looks just like the Enterprise-A — and concluded with “I wish they would do it from scratch” and “Get an imagination”?

    Clearly you can’t please everybody, but I wish fans would give the film a chance. I certainly don’t feel like Mr. Abrams “thumbed his nose at the fans.” And how much more respectful can you get than dedicating the film to the Roddenberrys?

    There is apparently a group who have anointed themselves as “true” fans, based on disliking the movie, who then define anyone who likes it as “not a true fan.” How many true fans thought ST V was a great motion picture? Judge the film by its merits and the fans likewise.

    For the record, I am starting to believe this is the MOST beautiful Enterprise yet created! I find that I am now subtly bothered by how far forward the saucer is on the original designs- it looks so vulnerable, compared to the new design with its nice, thick dorsal. Not that ANY Enterprise design has been less than beautiful in my book- but I think the 2009 design tops them all. Also, LOVE THE MACHINE-GUN PHASERS!

    Plus, the Kelvin was pretty nice as well. Hope they come out with a model or toy of her soon. (Beyond the Burger King toy, that is {he said with a grin})