Here is what happened to Star Trek's original Starship Enterprise. One of pop culture's most iconic vessels, the U.S.S. Enterprise is synonymous with the Star Trek franchise and Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). And although there has been a long line of starships bearing the name "Enterprise," the original is still the best known and arguably the most beloved.
Designated NCC-1701, the Constitution-class U.S.S. Enterprise was commissioned by Starfleet and launched in 2245 under the command of Captain Robert April. The Enterprise's second Captain was Christopher Pike, who commanded her for 15 years, from 2250-2265. With Mr. Spock (Ethan Peck) as his Science Officer, Pike's voyages were legendary; the captain and his starship were deemed so important by Starfleet that they were prevented from fighting in Star Trek: Discovery season 1's Klingon War. Even when Pike temporarily took command of the U.S.S. Discovery, the Enterprise played a key role in the events of Star Trek: Discovery season 2. Finally, in 2265, James T. Kirk became Captain of the Enterprise and led her on his historic five-year mission with Spock (Leonard Nimoy) by his side. Kirk would go on to be command two different versions of the Enterprise throughout The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated Series, and the first six Star Trek movies (as well as the three rebooted films by J.J. Abrams).
With its twin warp nacelles, saucer section, and radar dish, the original Enterprise is the most recognizable starship in Star Trek. Under Pike and Kirk, the Enterprise encountered dozens of alien species and took part in some of the most pivotal conflicts of the 23rd century. The Enterprise was badly damaged battling Control's Section 31 fleet during the Star Trek: Discovery season 2 finale and received a major refit. Prior to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Starship Enterprise received an even more expansive refit that completely redesigned its warp core and interiors, including the bridge, and removed the infamous radar dish. Through it all, the beloved starship continued to serve Kirk and his crew until its destruction in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.
The Original Enterprise Was Destroyed In Star Trek III
The original Enterprise was destroyed by Admiral Kirk in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. Following Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan's fateful battle with Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban) that led to the death of Spock, Kirk and his crew committed an insurrection by stealing the Enterprise; their goal was to return to the Genesis Planet and eventually reunite Spock with his katra (his Vulcan soul).
The Enterprise battled a Klingon Bird-of-Prey commanded by Kruge (Christopher Lloyd), who wanted the secrets of Genesis for himself. With only his rogue skeleton crew aboard, the Enterprise was mostly running on an automation program designed by Montgomery Scott (James Doohan) which wasn't designed for combat. When the ship's systems overloaded, Kirk activated the auto-destruct sequence so that the Enterprise wouldn't fall into Klingon hands. Kirk and crew beamed to the Genesis Planet and, as they watched the Enterprise detonate and crash to the ground in flames, Kirk sadly remarked, "My God, Bones. What have I done?"
Star Trek IV Introduced The Enterprise-A
Instead of facing court-martial for stealing and destroying the Enterprise, Admiral Kirk and his crew were instead rewarded after they saved the Earth in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. All charges against them were dropped and only Kirk was 'punished'; he was demoted to Captain and was given back his starship command. Expecting to be put in charge of the U.S.S. Excelsior, Captain Kirk and his loyal crew instead "came home" to the newly-commissioned U.S.S. Enterprise-A.
Kirk commanded the Enterprise-A from 2286, when they encountered 'God' in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier until the starship was decommissioned in 2293 following the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. It's worth noting that in Star Trek Beyond, the Enterprise was also destroyed and the film ended with Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) taking command of the Enterprise-A, so that events in the Kelvin timeline echoed those of Star Trek's Prime Universe.