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Constitution class

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Original configuration
USS Enterprise, The Cage (remastered) profile view.jpg

The USS Enterprise in original configuration

The USS Enterprise in original configuration
Owner: United Federation of Planets
Operator: Starfleet
Type: Class I Heavy Cruiser
Active: 2240s - 2270s
Length: 289 meters
Mass: 600,000 metric tons
Decks: 21
Crew complement: 430
Speed: Warp 6 (maximum safe speed)
Warp 8 (maximum speed)
Warp 9 (attainable at extreme risk)
Warp 11 (attainable with Kelvan engine modifications)
Warp 14.1 (attainable for a few minutes with engine overload)
Armament: Phaser banks, 6 forward photon torpedo tubes and an aft torpedo launcher
Defenses: Deflector shields
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), remastered.jpg

The USS Enterprise in revised configuration

The USS Enterprise in revised configuration
Constitution class schematics.jpg

Cross-section of Constitution-class schematics

Cross-section of Constitution-class schematics
Refit configuration
USS Enterprise-A quarter.jpg

The USS Enterprise-A, a refit Constitution class

The USS Enterprise-A, a refit Constitution class
Owner: United Federation of Planets
Operator: Starfleet
Type: Heavy cruiser
Active: 2270s - ?
Length: 305 meters
Mass: 620,000 metric tons
Decks: 23
Crew complement: 432
Speed: Warp factor 8 (max. cruise speed)
Warp factor 9 (emergency speed)
Armament: 18 phaser emitters, 2 photon torpedo launchers
Defenses: Deflector shields and defense fields

The Constitution-class starships, which were also known as Starship-class1 or Class I Heavy Cruisers, were the premier front-line Starfleet vessels in the latter half of the 23rd century. They were designed for long duration missions with minimal outside support and are best known for their celebrated missions of galactic exploration and diplomacy which typically lasted up to five years.

History Edit

According to Star Trek Encyclopedia The Constitution-class lineage was launched some time prior to 22452, and served as Starfleet's front-line vessels for the rest of the century. The Constitution-class also served as a deterrent to both the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire, several times taking part in combat actions which determined the fate of the entire Federation if not the Alpha Quadrant itself.

In 2267, there were around twelve3 Constitution-class starships in the fleet. (TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday") These included the NCC-1700, the USS Constellation, the USS Defiant, the USS Enterprise, the USS Excalibur, the USS Exeter, the USS Hood, the USS Intrepid, USS Lexington, and the USS Potemkin.

The most famous Constitution-class starship was the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), launched under the command of Captain Robert April in 2245. The Enterprise gained its reputation during its historic five year mission (2265-2270) under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. (VOY: "Q2")

In 2266, on stardate 1709, the Enterprise was instrumental in preventing a war between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire. When a Romulan Bird-of-Prey crossed the Romulan Neutral Zone and destroyed several Earth Outpost Stations, Captain Kirk barely managed to outwit the enemy commander and stop his vessel from returning to Romulus and reporting on the Federation's weakness. (TOS: "Balance of Terror")

The mission parameters for the class meant that its vessels usually operated widely dispersed on their own and that encounters with class sisters were few and far between. However, the year 2267 saw a gathering of the class when a large part of its vessels was assembled at Starbase 11 for refitting and repairs. (TOS: "Court Martial")

Despite the successes of the class, exemplified by the performance of Kirk's ship, the mission parameters for the Constitution-class also meant that the vessels of the class operated under highly dangerous circumstances, resulting in a relatively high loss rate, and that being assigned to one was hazardous at best. In 2267 for example, the USS Constellation under the command of Commodore Matt Decker fell victim to what has become known as the "Doomsday machine", when it was on a routine survey mission near system L-374. Both ship and entire crew were lost. (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine") Likewise, and less than a year later in 2268, the Vulcan manned USS Intrepid was lost with its entire crew, in a fatal encounter with a huge simple cellular being in star system Gamma 7A of Sector 39J. (TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome") Later that year, the USS Exeter became infected with an unknown virus, a residue from biological warfare which had raged on Omega IV and which the ship was orbiting, again killing her entire crew, save for its captain, Ronald Tracey. While undamaged, the contaminated ship was for the time being left adrift. (TOS: "The Omega Glory")

In late-2268, Excalibur, Hood, Lexington, and Potemkin took part in the disastrous testing of the M-5 computer, which had been placed in control of the Enterprise. The Excalibur was severely damaged, with all hands lost. The Lexington also was brutally assaulted by the M-5 computer when the unit became unstable. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer") Later that year, Defiant responded to a distress call from an unexplored sector of space, claimed by the Tholian Assembly. Shortly upon entering the region, the Defiant crew began experiencing sensory distortion, and insanity quickly spread throughout the ship. The ship's surgeon was unable to determine what was happening, and eventually the insanity induced by the phenomenon led the crew to kill each other.

USS Defiant in Tholian drydock, 2155

The Defiant in a Tholian drydock facility

Three weeks later, Starfleet ordered the Enterprise to mount a search mission to locate the Defiant. On stardate 5693.2, the Enterprise located her adrift, lost between universes in a space warp. As a result of a later phaser exchange between the Enterprise and several Tholian vessels, a hole was created through the spatial interphase, pushing the Defiant into the mirror universe. (TOS: "The Tholian Web")

Unknown to history in the "prime" universe, the Defiant emerged in the 22nd century mirror universe, where the Tholians of that universe had created the interphase rift by detonating a tricobalt warhead within the gravity well of a dead star. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly") The Defiant would seemingly go on to play a major role in Empress Sato's rule over the Earth. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")

It is unclear whether, following the events of "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II", Sato's bid to become Empress actually succeeded, or what the final disposition of the Defiant in that universe was, as the mirror universe of the 23rd century, as can be seen in TOS: "Mirror, Mirror", exhibits no significant advances in technology nor any evidence of knowledge of the "real" universe.

Physical arrangement Edit

Constitution class forward USS Enterprise, aft view
Forward view of the Constitution-class in the 2260s...
...aft view...
USS Enterprise over Earth Enterprise impulse drive 2265
...forward dorsal view...
...and close-up profile view

The Constitution-class featured the saucer section-engineering section-warp nacelle layout common to most Starfleet vessels. All ships of the class of the same level of refit appeared to be identical at first glance, but closer inspection revealed minor detail differences on certain vessels. (TOS: "The Cage", "The Ultimate Computer"; Star Trek: The Motion Picture; etc.)

There were three different configurations of the original design. The first, used in the original pilot, featured a larger bridge dome and sensor/deflector dish, and spikes on the bussard collectors, among other minor differences. The second configuration, used in the second pilot (and throughout the rest of the series, due to footage being reused) was similar to the first version, with the addition of running lights, additional markings, and a grille pattern on the rear of each engine nacelle. The version used for the production of the regular series had a smaller bridge dome, a smaller sensor/deflector dish, and lighting effects in the Bussard collectors (which had their antenna spikes removed). The remastered edition of TOS replaced the anomalous stock shots in later episodes with the proper configuration. The redesigned Enterprise created for the motion pictures has a sleeker, more modern look compared to the original configuration in the TOS era. However it still maintains the original saucer section-engineering section-warp nacelle layout. The saucer section seems to reflect the design of the TOS-Movie Era design, especially with the exterior bridge design.

Various science labs, numbering fourteen in all, (TOS: "Operation -- Annihilate!") were located in the primary hull in the class' original configuration. An officer's lounge and dining area would be located in the aft superstructure beneath the bridge after the 2270s refit. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) There were at least seven turbolifts that serviced the primary and secondary hulls. (TOS: "The Man Trap") The modular design of the Constitution-class allowed for component separation in times of crisis. The primary and secondary hulls could separate where the connecting "neck" joined the saucer, allowing either section to serve as a lifeboat if the other was too badly damaged. If an emergency was confined to the warp engine nacelles, it was theoretically possible to disengage and jettison them while keeping the bulk of the vessel intact. Any hull separation was considered a dangerous procedure and not always an option.(TOS: "The Apple", "The Savage Curtain")

Though not an aerodynamic craft, in emergencies, Constitution-class vessels were able to break orbit and enter a Class M planet's upper atmosphere (and maintain altitude control while passing through it) for a limited period of time, conditional on the ship's ability to re-achieve escape velocity. (TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday")

Refit history Edit

Enterprise bridge 2265

USS Enterprise - early configuration bridge module in 2265

From 2254, or earlier, to 2265 Constitution-class vessels featured a large deflector dish, a large bridge dome of semi-spherical shape, and an antenna spike protruding from the Bussard collector cap on each warp nacelle. The impulse drive had two exhaust vents in 2254, and as many as eight smaller vents in 2265. (TOS: "The Cage", "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

Sometime between 2265 and 2266, the old deflector dish was replaced by a significantly smaller model, the spikes on the Bussard collectors were removed, a smaller bridge dome of flatter curvature was installed, the aft caps on the warp nacelles were each equipped with a spherical attachment, and the impulse drive now had only two large exhausts. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver")

The changes to the impulse drive section may indicate that completely new impulse engines were installed. It is unclear whether the warp nacelles were merely modified or completely replaced.

The interior passageways, main bridge interior and briefing room were already redesigned sometime between 2254 and 2265, and new intercoms were installed.

In 2266, the interior passageways were again modified, the briefing room was completely redesigned, and the overhauled main bridge featured an enlarged main viewscreen and upgrades to the control interfaces and station arrangement, but the overall appearance of the bridge remained relatively unchanged as compared to 2265. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver")

The crew quarters of the 2254 configuration had the capability of carrying slightly more than 200 crewmembers. (TOS: "The Cage") In the 2266 configuration, crew quarters could hold a crew complement of over 400. (TOS: "Charlie X")

Refit Constitution class forward USS Enterprise refit, aft
Constitution-refit configuration since 2270s, forward view...
...aft view...
USS Enterprise NCC-1701 dorsal USS Enterprise-A refit, profile view
...dorsal view...
...and profile view

In the late 2260s to early 2270s, the Constitution-class starships underwent their final major refit program. The actual refitting took eighteen months of work and essentially a new vessel was built onto the bones of the old, replacing virtually every major system. Thus, the Constitution-class continued in service for a further twenty years.

Essential upgrades were made to the Constitution-class' warp systems; the old cylindrical nacelles were replaced with new angular ones and the warp nacelle struts were connected to the engineering hull much closer to the neck than before. The engineering hull roughly retained its original shape – while the original hull was essentially a conical cylinder, the refit was much more rounded.

The deflector dish was upgraded, doing away with the "satellite" dish architecture. As for the interior of the hull, the most obvious upgrades were the enlargement of the shuttle deck and landing bay, as well as the addition of a horizontal matter-antimatter reaction assembly and a vertical intermix chamber.

New also was the installment of the double photon torpedo launcher with its rectangular housing in the neck of the vessel. Also, the phaser configuration was changed to channel energy though the warp core. Furthermore, the saucer section was considerably extended (almost 20 meters), while the rest of the surface remained about the same.

Major changes were made to the interior of the Constitution-class starships; many new systems were added and existing ones upgraded. Summarizing, only the internal structure of the saucer and very little of the engineering hull and neck may have survived the 2270s refit. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Some refit configurations had the warp nacelles rotated 90 degrees and included additional hatches along both sides of the saucer. (TNG: "Booby Trap")

Command and control systems Edit

Constitution class bridge 2250s Constitution class bridge (2267)
Main bridge of the USS Enterprise in 2254...
...and as it was in 2267)
USS Defiant (NCC-1764) bridge Constitution class bridge console
Main bridge of the USS Defiant (2268)
A duotronic-based bridge [[control interface

The Constitution-class's primary command center, the main bridge, was located on top of the vessel's primary hull, on Deck 1. From here, the commanding officer supervised the entire starship's operation.

The command chair was located in the recessed area at the center of the room, in a direct line with the main viewer. This position was equidistant from all the control consoles that operated specific areas of the ship. Consequently, the captain could be immediately updated on the condition of the vessel or its crew during missions, and orders could be given clearly with a minimum of effort. The chair was mounted on a circular pillar, attached to a rectangular footplate that was directly anchored to the deck, giving it considerable support during an attack. It was designed to swivel on the support so that the captain could turn to any member of the bridge crew.

Piloting and navigation functions were carried out at the helm console, located in the center of the room, positioned in front of the command chair. This panel consisted of three main sections.

On the left was a compartment which opened automatically to permit operation of the targeting scanner. Next to this was the main control panel, which operated maneuvering thrusters, impulse engines, and fired the ship's weapons. Directly below this panel was a row of eight flip-switches provided to set warp flight speeds.

The central section of the conn panel was fitted with a number of sensor monitor lights, and was dominated by two main features: the alert indicator and the astrogator, which was used for long-range course plotting. The navigator's station had a control panel for entering course and heading data and the flight path indicator, and supplied information on any deviations or course corrections in progress. It also had controls for the weapons systems.

Other stations on the bridge were provided for communications, engineering, weapons control, gravity control, damage control, environmental engineering, science and library computer, and internal security. All stations were normally manned at all times.

Mounted into the room's forward bulkhead was the main viewscreen. Visual sensor pickups located at various points on the Constitution-class' outer hull were capable of image magnification and allowed a varied choice of viewing angles.

The computer systems aboard the Constitution-class starship were duotronic based. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer"; DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")

Upgrades Edit

Enterprise bridge wide, TAS Constitution class refit bridge 1
Main bridge of the USS Enterprise (2269)
Refit configuration bridge (2270s)
Constitution class refit bridge 2 Constitution class refit bridge, 2293
Refit configuration bridge (2286)
Refit configuration bridge (2293)

Only one turbolift serviced the bridge of the original configuration Constitution-class ship. In the late 2260s, some were refit with a second lift on the port forward section of the bridge. (TAS: "Beyond the Farthest Star") After the major refit in the early 2270s, the bridge aboard Constitution-class vessels would continue to utilize two turbolifts, but both would be located behind the command chair. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

The Star Fleet Technical Manual, states that the original bridge was rotated 36° port, which would have the turbolift shaft travel down the center-line of the saucer section. The Technical Manual gives no reason for this offset. With artificial gravity limiting any sense of momentum and electronic displays instead of windows, there may have been no reason for the bridge crew to face directly forward.
According to production designer Matt Jefferies, dramatic necessity required the turbolift to be moved from its planned center-line position (as seen on the Enterprise model). This offset placement allowed characters to walk onto the bridge and enter scenes without being blocked by actors sitting in the command chair.

The bridge of the Constitution-class starships were subject to many minor and major cosmetic changes over their many years of service. In particular, the main bridge of the USS Enterprise seems to have undergone considerable changes in appearance. In the late 2260s, along with the added turbolift, the bridge design changed from a segmented flat-panel peripheral station configuration to a completely circular design, including curved overhead view screens, and railings and steps which matched the arc of the circumference. At the same time, an automatic bridge defense system was also installed that obscured the translucent overhead dome, which would not return until the Galaxy class bridge. (TAS: "Beyond the Farthest Star") This marked the beginning of major changes to come which would utilize the updated substructure, most notably, its systems were fully upgraded along with the refit of the early 2270s. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

The bridge underwent only a few minor modifications from that point until the destruction of the ship in 2285. The bridge of the USS Enterprise-A, commissioned one year later (in 2286), had mainly cosmetic differences at launch, but, by 2287, it had been drastically upgraded to reflect the advances made in computer control technology. The bridge module had again been replaced by 2293. The lighter color scheme of the original Enterprise-A bridges had made room for a darker, more militaristic look. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

The controls in the fifth movie were designed to reflect a change towards a more TNG control style, but in the sixth movie the controls went back to a more push button design. While this has not been addressed in the canon one might theorize that the controls were replaced for any variety of reasons.

Propulsion systems Edit

USS Enterprise inside space amoeba

Aft view of an original configuration vessel

The Constitution-class of starships has been fitted with both lithium and dilithium reactor circuits in the warp drive assembly over its service lifetime. The vessel's standard cruising speed was warp 6, while its maximum cruising speed was warp 8. Warp 9 was also possible for this class of starship, although it was highly discouraged because it was an unsafe velocity.

The USS Enterprise was twice modified to achieve a speed of warp 11. The probe Nomad increased the ship's engine efficiency by 57% in 2267, allowing the ship to reach warp 11, but Kirk persuaded Nomad to reverse its "repairs" because the ship's structure could not stand the stress of that much power, and would eventually destroy the ship. (TOS: "The Changeling")

More extensive modifications made to the ship by the Kelvans in 2268, who were able to produce velocities that were far beyond the reach of Federation science, allowing the Enterprise to safely maintain a cruising speed of warp 11 while traveling through the intergalactic void. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")

The maximum warp speed recorded for this class by itself was warp 14.1, achieved by the Enterprise due to sabotage to the vessel's warp drive system. While the ship itself was not structured to take that speed for any length of time, the Enterprise was able to maintain that velocity for nearly 15 minutes. (TOS: "That Which Survives")

Constitution class refit impulsedrive

A close-up of the refit configuration impulse drive

The Enterprise also maintained stability at warp 22, while tractored to a ship going warp 32. (TAS: "The Counter-Clock Incident")

Following the 2270s refit of the class, the Constitution was equipped with a linear dilithium-controlled MARA (Matter/Antimatter Reactor Assembly), and a pulse dilithium-controlled assembly was installed by the mid 2290s aboard the USS Enterprise. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

The Constitution-class' impulse drive system was a twin-port engine, capable of velocities at least warp factor 0.8. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture) A fusion explosion equivalent to at least 97.835 megatons would result if the impulse engines were overloaded. (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine")

Main engineering Edit

Constitution original engineering2 Constitution original engineering
Engineering in 2266... 2268...
Warp core TAS Main engineering, dilithium chamber
...and in 2269
Dilithium chamber in engineering in 2269
Constitution class refit engineering Constitution Engineering
Refit configuration main engineering deck in the 2270s...
...and its upper engineering level

Main engineering was from where the ship's warp was controlled. All thrust and power systems were primarily controlled from this site, and it is also where the main dilithium crystal reactor was located. Life support was controlled separately from Deck 6. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer", "The Corbomite Maneuver", "The Naked Time", "The Enemy Within", "The Conscience of the King", and more)

During the 2270s Constitution-class refit, the interior design of the engineering section was drastically upgraded, featuring the vertical warp core and the horizontal intermix area.

Main engineering was lodged on Decks 14 and 15. Deck 14 was the uppermost level of the engineering hull, and was the anchoring framework for the connecting dorsal and the warp nacelle pylons.

On the forward end of the deck was the engineering computer monitoring room, which encircled the cortical intermix shaft and opens, to the rear, into the engineering computer bay.

Deck 15 housed the main engineering room. Located in the center of the room, and extending for many levels both above and below the deck, was the vertical linear intermix chamber. This complex, radically new design in intermix technology, provided operational power for the impulse drive system and furnished enough additional energy to power all other shipboard systems.

Both matter and antimatter for this chamber were contained in a series of magnetic bottles, which were housed in pods at the base of the intermix shaft. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Tactical systems Edit

Laser and phaser systemsEdit

USS Enterprise firing phasers

Forward phasers of the USS Enterprise

During the early 2250s, Constitution-class heavy cruisers were armed with a complement of directed energy weapons, that possessed enough power to destroy half a continent in a concentrated bombardment. In addition, these vessels carried on board laser cannons, capable of operating on energy fed remotely from the ship. (TOS: "The Cage", "The Menagerie, Part I", "The Menagerie, Part II")

According to the Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology (p. 164), the advanced ship-board laser banks used by Constitution-class starships were upgraded to phaser banks four years after the Enterprise had visited Talos IV in "The Cage".

By 2266, phaser banks were standard complement aboard this class of ship. A bank actually consisted of a single emitter and its power supply, though it was common practice to fire two banks at a time and refer to it as a single firing. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", "The Doomsday Machine", "The Paradise Syndrome")

Ship-mounted phaser banks had a range of approximately 90,000 kilometers. Like hand phasers, they were capable of being adjusted to stun, heat, or disintegrate targets, including objects or beings in space or on a planets surface. The focus could be adjusted from a narrow to a wide beam. When only motion sensor readings were available, the ships phasers could be set for proximity blast and bracket the approximate coordinates of the target. (TOS: "Balance of Terror", "A Piece of the Action", "Who Mourns for Adonais?", "The Paradise Syndrome", "The Tholian Web")

USS Defiant (NCC-1764) firing aft phasers

Original configuration Constitution-class USS Defiant firing its secondary hull aft phasers

In the original configuration, a battery of several forward phaser emitters was located on the lower part of the ventral side of the saucer section. Aft firing banks were located above the shuttlebay on the secondary hull. There were also port, starboard and midship phasers. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"; TOS: "Balance of Terror", "The Paradise Syndrome", "Arena", "Friday's Child").

Based on dialogue from "The Paradise Syndrome" there were four forward phasers, though the effects depicted two phasers firing on each discharge, suggesting there was a battery of eight forward phaser emitters. A top view graphic of the original Constitution-class configuration, used on a computer screen in TNG: "Datalore", depicted the port and starboard emitters on the dorsal surface of the primary hull. Two banks cover both flanks.
Constitution class refit configuration phasers

A refit Constitution vessel fires its forward phasers

After the refit of the 2270s, Constitution-class ships mounted three dual-emitter phaser banks on the ventral and three on dorsal faces of the saucer. They covered the forward, port and starboard flanks. Two single emitter aft banks are above the shuttlebay and four midship single emitter banks were located on the ventral surface of the engineering hull. Phaser power was increased by drawing energy directly from the warp drive. This increase in firepower had a drawback in that the phasers would be cut off if the main reactor was off line. This problem hampered the USS Enterprise on at least two occasions, one in the 2270s and again in 2285. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Torpedo systemsEdit

Arena photon torpedo

Torpedo launcher (original configuration)

The Constitution-class originally mounted six forward torpedo tubes and an aft tube for launching photon torpedoes. The forward tubes were located in the same area as the forward phaser banks. The tube covering the aft firing arc launched torpedoes from the end of the secondary hull. This combined arsenal was powerful enough to destroy the entire surface of a planet. (TOS: "Arena", "A Taste of Armageddon", "Journey to Babel"; TAS: "More Tribbles, More Troubles"; ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")

The number of forward torpedo tubes is based on the line of dialogue "fire photon torpedoes two, four and six" from "Journey to Babel," and the dialogue and scene from "Elaan of Troyius" where all tubes were brought to bear and the full spread of torpedoes from the forward tubes consisted of six photon torpedoes. According to the Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology (p. 164), in the original configuration the ship carried a total of 400 photon torpedoes.
Torpedo bay display

Torpedo manifest (refit configuration)

Constitution class refit torpedo

Torpedo launcher (refit configuration)

The post-refit vessels had two forward firing torpedo launchers, though each tube could fire at least two torpedoes before reloading. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Based on the torpedo manifest graphic in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the refitted Constitution-class was armed with a total of 144 photon torpedoes, arranged in twelve stacks, each containing twelve torpedoes on top of one another.

Deflector shieldsEdit

Deflector status display, Constitution class

Deflector status display

The Constitution-class starship had a powerful deflector shield grid in the 2260s. The shield grid was divided into four segments, referred to as "number one shield", "number two shield", etc. (TOS: "Journey to Babel", "Elaan of Troyius") At full power, with the warp reactor tied into the shield system, it was capable of absorbing and repulsing a bombardment of energy impacts equal to the detonation of 360 photon torpedoes of the type the Enterprise was equipped with at the time, before the shielding power was completely lost. In 2267, for example, the Enterprise survived an attack from the Nomad probe. Nomad fired four powerful bolts of energy, each with the equivalent force of 90 photon torpedoes. The first hit reduced shielding power only by twenty percent. After being hit with the equal force of 270 photon torpedoes, warp maneuvering power was lost. Shields were lost with the fourth hit. (TOS: "The Changeling")

The deflector shield grid was much more vulnerable to intense standard phaser bombardment. In 2268, an Orion scout ship was able to cause buckling in some of the shields of the Enterprise after it had made just five attack runs on the ship. On the seventh run, the Enterprise lost one of its four shields. (TOS: "Journey to Babel") Other more powerful weaponry could take the shields down even more easily, the planet killer for example could completely deplete a Constitution-class starship's shielding power with only three hits with its antiproton beam. (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine")

The diversion of all but emergency maintenance power to the shields had the adverse affect of reducing phaser power by fifty percent. (TOS: "The Tholian Web") A single detonation of a nuclear warhead less than a hundred meters away could cause internal overloads on the ship and leak radiation through the shields to the outer regions of the ship. (TOS: "Balance of Terror") Without the warp reactor to power the shields, the system was not very effective in protecting the ship. With only the impulse reactors powering the shields, a D7 class Klingon battle cruiser could deplete a Constitution-class starships shielding power with only few passes of disruptor fire. (TOS: "Elaan of Troyius")

After the refit, in the 2280s, a Constitution-class starships needed 13.5 seconds to lower and raise their shields when taking a shuttlecraft on board via its tractor beam. Flying the shuttle in manually reduced this time significantly. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) During yellow alerts, defense fields were activated to offer basic protection to the main bridge. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

According to Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise (page 14), the deflector shields after the refit in the 2270s, were redesigned as a massive replicator system, projecting an invisible hull layer, molecularly identical to the diburnium-osmium alloy used to build the Kalandan outpost seen in the episode TOS: "That Which Survives".

Transporter systems Edit

USS Enterprise replica transporter Constitution original transporter
Outward view of a transporter room from the late 2250s-early 2260s
Inward view of a transporter room from the late 2260s
Constitution transporter Constitution class refit transporter
Transporter in 2266
Refit configuration transporter room late 2280s-early 2290s

Extravehicular transporter to and from the ship was accomplished by a number of transporter systems, which allowed personnel or equipment to be transported over large ranges. The transporter platform featured six pads, which were numbered clockwise, beginning with the right front. A redesigned field generator matrix was mounted into the rear wall of the chamber aboard the refit configuration Constitution-class starships.

Aboard the refitted Constitution-class vessels, the transporter operator stood within an enclosed control pod, which had a floor-to-ceiling transparent aluminum panel through which he or she could view the transport platform. This panel served to shield the operator from the effects of any cumulative radiations emitted by the new transporter machinery, a side effect of the more powerful system.

A door in the standard transporter room wall led to a staging area where landing parties prepared for transporter.

Airlocks Edit

Constitution class refit airlock

Airlock staging area in the 2270s

Refit Constitution-class starships possessed a number of airlocks permitting direct physical access to the ship. One was located at the aft of Deck 1 on top of the saucer section. Two more were located in the lower saucer section, port and starboard, concealed by sliding hull plates. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

One of these, [port], is shown in the "Spock walk" sequence. Since nearly every other such airlock has a matching one on the other side of the ship, it is reasonable to assume the presence of one to starboard.

These lower two are accessed through staging areas. Four spacesuit lockers line one wall; each containing one suit, providing enough to clothe a standard party of four. A small, locked arms cabinet held phasers; communicators, tricorders, translators, and outerwear were contained in a separate cabinet on another wall. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

The next set of airlocks were located on the port and starboard sides of the torpedo bays. The final set were located on the port and starboard sides of the secondary hull at the midline. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) These airlocks opened into the ship's main cargo bay. There was also a "gangway"-style airlock on the port edge of the saucer section. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

The presence of a similar "passageway" visible in the Tholian drydock holding the USS Defiant suggests that it is a feature of the pre-refit Constitution-class as well. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

Located on the upper surface of the saucer section of the refitted Enterprise were numerous small hatches used for entrance/egress during extra-vehicular activities. (Kirk, Spock, Decker, McCoy, and the Ilia probe use one of these hatches to leave the ship when they arrive at V'Gers "core".) (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Landing bay and cargo facilities Edit

Galileo approaches USS Enterprise from Vulcan Galileo and Columbus on hangar deck
Original configuration, external view
Original configuration, internal view
Constitution class refit landingbay Enterprise-A shuttlebay
Landing bay on a refit configuration vessel
Refit configuration, internal view

Deck 17 was the main access level of the engineering hull. The aft landing bay provided personnel in small craft with a means of entering or exiting the vessel, as did docking port on either side of the level.

The original configuration of the Constitution-class carried a standard complement of 4 shuttlecraft, some of which were Class F. (TOS: "The Omega Glory")

This may have varied per ship, as while the USS Exeter was specifically stated to just have 4, the USS Enterprise was seen with one class F and three other shuttles in its shuttlebay in TAS: "Mudd's Passion". The same ship was also seen to have at least two class F shuttles earlier in TOS: "The Galileo Seven", so its shuttle configuration may have varied over time as well.

The refit configuration Constitution-class starship featured a new landing bay design. A wide range of Starfleet and Federation craft could utilize this state-of-the-art landing facility. Alcoves on either side of the landing bay provided storage for up to six standard Work Bees, and furnished all necessary recharging and refueling equipment. Additional space was available for the storage of non-ship shuttlecraft.

Just within the landing bay doors was a force field generator unit, which was built into the main bulkheads on either side of the entry area. This field allowed craft to enter the ship, while at the same time retaining the atmosphere and temperature within the landing bay.

Deck 18, the refit configuration shuttlecraft hanger bay, was situated at the widest point of the engineering hull. Much of the deck consisted of open space, as it was the mid-level of the cargo facility; thirty-two cargo pod modules could be stored in the alcoves lining the forward, port, and starboard sides of the bay.

The shuttle hangar had sufficient room for the storage of four craft at any given time. During normal storage situations, these shuttlecraft faced aft.

This deck also housed the vessel's lifeboat facilities. These one-man craft, which escaped through blow-away panels in the side of the secondary hull, were provided for those persons were unable to reach the primary hull in case of an emergency. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Crew support systems Edit

Medical systems Edit

USS Enterprise sickbay, TAS

Biobeds in sickbay

On the original Constitution-class starships, a sickbay facility was located on Deck 6, which featured an examination room, a nursery, the chief medical officer's office and a medical lab. At least one other medical lab was located elsewhere on the vessel, and was used for biopsy, among other things. Sickbay was considered the safest place to be on the ship during combat. (TOS: "The Naked Time", "Elaan of Troyius")

The sickbay set of the pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" underwent considerable changes following the shooting of the episode for the remainder of the series.
Constitution class refit sickbay

Intensive Care Unit on a refit configuration vessel

Constitution class refit examination room

Refit configuration examination room

With the class refit of the 2270s, the medical facilities of the Constitution-class starship were considerably updated. New micro-diagnostic tables were capable of fully analyzing the humanoid body at the sub-cellular level, offering the physician a total understanding of the patient's status.

Another new addition was a medical stasis unit, in which patients whose conditions were considered immediately life-threatening could be placed into suspended animation until the proper cure or surgical procedure could be established. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Crew quarters Edit

Enterprise quarters, original

Crew quarters in the 2260s

Jonathan Archer (mirror) in a wraparound tunic

Senior officers's quarters on an original Constitution

Constitution class refit officers quarters

Officers's quarters on a refit configuration Constitution

Crew quarters were located throughout the saucer section – keeping with Starfleet tradition, Deck 5 housed the senior officers' quarters. On the refit configuration vessels, these staterooms were quite similar to the VIP units on Deck 4, with only a few differences.

On starships of the original configuration, the officers' quarters featured two areas, separated partly by a wall fragment. One area was allocated as sleeping area, featuring a comfortable bed, and another as work area, including a desk and computer terminal. Entrance to a bathroom was provided through the quarter's sleeping area. Both areas could be configured to personal preference. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"; TOS: "The Enemy Within")

On the original series, several "different" crew quarters were seen, but always the same set was used, changed by different lighting designs and furniture configuration.

On Constitution-class vessels, staterooms of the senior officers were composed of two areas which were separated by a retractable, transparent aluminum partition. The room's entrance opened into the living area. A library computer terminal and work desk were provided here. The room's corner circular nook, normally occupied by a dining booth, could be modified at the officer's request.

The other half of the stateroom was a sleeping area, which held a single large bed that could double as sofa during off-duty relaxation. A transparent door led into the bathroom area. By the 2290s, crew space was at a premium, and the size of officers' quarters was reduced to one large room and crewmen were housed in dormitories with bunk beds. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Recreational facilities Edit

Constitution class original recreation

A typical recreation room (2260s)

Constitution class refit recreation

Recreation room (refit configuration, 2270s)

Aboard the original Constitution-class starships, there were at least six recreation rooms, which included three-dimensional chess and card game tables. There was also a holographic rec room, which was the predecessor of the holodeck. Also aboard were as arboretum, gymnasium, a bowling alley, a theater, and a chapel. (TOS: "Charlie X", "The Naked Time", "The Conscience of the King"; Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

On the refitted Constitution-class vessels, recreational facilities were further expanded. One large room in the aft section of the starship's saucer section furnished off-duty personnel with a wide variety of recreational games and entertainment. At the front of the room was an immense, wall-mounted viewing screen. Beneath this was an information display alcove; five small screens exhibited, upon request, a choice of pictorial histories. A raised platform in the center of the lower level floor featured a diversity of electronic entertainment. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Officers' lounge Edit
Constitution class refit lounge

Officers' lounge privacy area on a Constitution-class vessel of the refit lineage

Located at the stern of Deck 2 aboard the refit configuration Constitution-class starship was the officers' lounge. Here, four huge view ports afforded a spectacular view of the ship's warp nacelles and space beyond.

To the sides, small plant areas held flora from several worlds and a small pool featured freshwater tropical fish. Just forward of this section of the lounge were two privacy areas. In each privacy area, a view screen was mounted into the wall, providing a full exterior tour of the vessel. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

Ships commissioned Edit


Appendices Edit

See also Edit

Appearances Edit

The Constitution-class Enterprise appeared in every episode of TOS and TAS (except for "The Slaver Weapon"). TOS episodes featuring other Constitution-class vessels besides Enterprise are listed below.

Background information Edit

For the origins of the Constitution-class designation, see: Footnote 1

Size Edit

Constitution-class USS Enterprise NCC-1701 finalized plan views by Matt Jefferies
Jefferies' detailed size plan views he created for AMT
D7-class and Enterprise scale drawings Constitution-D7 class comparisonConstitution-D7 class comparison 2
Jefferies' size comparison graphics production art... featured in "The Enterprise Incident"

The dimensions of the Constitution-class, being 947 feet (289 meters) long for the original configuration and 1000 feet (305 meters) for the refit-configuration, have been set in stone in time immemorial as far as Star Trek -lore is concerned. That being said and oddly enough, neither dimension has actually ever been canonically confirmed, as neither dimension was ever seen or referred to in any of the live-action Star Trek productions.

The original configuration length of 947 feet was first derived from Stephen Edward Poe's reference book, The Making of Star Trek, p. 178, and that dimension has been propagated in every subsequent reference work ever since. However, what Poe did not mention was that Designer Matt Jefferies had originally produced that graphic in 1967 as a reference for Poe's employer, model kit company Aluminum Metal Toys, and not for the actual Original Series production, for their 1968 second edition retooled USS Enterprise model kit, no. S951, and where the graphic was displayed on the side of the box prior to its publication in the book. Remarkably, the dimension of the starship had been in flux until that time as a Producer Gene Roddenberry's memo of 24 August 1964 evidenced, "We anticipate a final design might see the ship as 200 feet in length, and thus even a 1½-inch scale would give us quite a huge miniature." This figure, initially accompanied with a crew complement of 203 would actually more or less stand until Jefferies, utilizing his engineering background, recalculated the figures for his design three years later. (The Making of Star Trek, pp. 89, 134)

The original configuration Constitution-class length came closest to canon, when two size comparison graphics were featured in the Original Series third season episode "The Enterprise Incident". The two computer console graphics, also created by Jefferies, showed a Constitution-class vessel in comparison with a Romulan D7-class battle cruiser and an in the episode barely discernible yardstick. Yet, careful measurement of the production art of the graphic, using the featured yardstick, measured the Constitution-class vessel actually at exactly 900 feet (274 meter). Jefferies later sold his original plan view design art, including that for AMT, in the Profiles in History The Star Trek Auction of 12 December 2001, in order to raise funding for the "Motion Picture & Television Fund" charity.

Likewise, the 1,000 feet length of the refit-Constitution-class was never canonically established on screen either, instead generally gleaned from the 1991 reference book, Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, where it was propagated to the public at large. The Manual itself was based on the internal document Star Trek: The Next Generation Writers' Technical Manual in which Andrew Probert had provided dimensions for most of the prominent starships until then established in the live-action franchise. Actually, Probert himself had in turn based his dimensions on the size comparison production art, Visual Effects Art Director Nilo Rodis had created for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, published in a Cinefantastique article (Vol 17 #3/4, 1987, p. 77) almost half a decade earlier, and where the size was actually already disclosed for the very first time. This was not a whimsical act on Rodis' part; As that movie introduced a multitude of newly designed starships at once and since studio models were almost never build in scale to each other, visual effects compositors at Industrial Light & Magic needed some sort of a reference dimensional framework in order for them to take the ships' relative sizes into account, when editing their ship effects shots if more that one appeared in a shot, for the interior Earth Spacedock scenes in particular. By setting the refit-Enterprise at exactly 1,000 feet, Rodis used that ship as the yardstick to which all other ships were measured against in the movie.

Studio models Edit

See: Constitution-class model (original)
See: Constitution-class model (refit)

Registry number Edit

Matt Jefferies was, apart from designing the ship, also responsible for its famous registry number "NCC-1701". As he explains, "Since the 1920's, N has indicated the United States in Navy terms, and C means 'commercial' vessel. I added an extra C just for fun. Interestingly, Russia's designation is CCC. So The N and C together made it kind of international. After that, I had to pick some numbers. They had to be easily identifiable from a distance, so that eliminated 3, 8 , 6, 9 and 4-none of which is that clear from a distance, That didn't leave much! So 1701 was as good a choice as any. The reason we gave for the choice afterwards was that the "Enterprise" was the 17th major design of the Federation, and the first in the series. 17-01!" (Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook, p. 62), "(...)which, incidentally and coincidentally, happens to be very close to the license number on my airplane-NC-17740. But I have never really stepped out and squashed the rumor that the number on the "Enterprise" came off my airplane." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 10,  p. 26)


Bridge setEdit

When approved, Roddenberry's proposal made it abundantly clear that the bridge of his proposed starship was to become one of, if not the most important standing sets for the proposed show, since most of the projected on-board scenes were to take place on the bridge, as it has been for every subsequent Star Trek live-action production ever since. Though established as being instrumental, that was as far as it went; Shape, function, size, location and interior, all had to be beefed out and thought about. As early as 24 July 1964, Roddenberry commented in a memo to his Art Director Pato Guzman, "More and more I see the need for some sort of interesting electronic computing machine designed into the U.S.S. Enterprise, perhaps on the bridge itself. It will be an information device out of which April and the crew can quickly and interestingly extract information on the registry of other space vessels, space flight plans for other ships, information on individuals and planets and civilizations, etc. [note: ultimately turning out as Spock's Library Computer Access and Retrieval System] This should not only speed up our storytelling but could be visually interesting." (The Making of Star Trek, p. 85) A month later, on 25 August 1964, Roddenberry mused in a memo to Guzman,

"It seems to me likely that design of controls, dials, instruments, etc., aboard our spaceship, particularly the complex "three dimensional" ones which our scientists friends insist would be there, necessitates we locate some hopefully, near genius gadgeteer and electrician and jack-of-all-trades here at Desilu who can augment our speculation and sketching with some idea of what he can accomplish with batteries, lights, wires, plastic, etc. For example, going on an instrument I saw yesterday at North American´s Advanced Space Research Center, is there some way to construct a plain revolving globe on which flicker on and off various small lights, lighted path projections, projected course lines, etc. The point being, although neither you or I may see this as possible or within our budget limits, a highly inventive and mechanically minded person may know of fairly simple ways to accomplish it. In short, I think it's important to locate the best possible man here and, rather than wait for the more formal preproduction meetings, immediately include him in some of our speculating and discussions. If you agree, please call Jim Paisley [note: Desilu's overall production manager]. Have forwarded him a copy of this note." (The Making of Star Trek, pp. 86-87)
By this time however, both Jefferies and Guzman were already homing in on the final exterior design of the Enterprise and their design directions made it already abundantly clear that the bridge was to be circular and situated atop of, what was to become, the saucer section. Once Roddenberry and his advisors/designers had beefed out the format, shape and functions of the bridge, he, once the regular series went into production, proceeded to formalize those in the internal writer's/director's guide, The Star Trek Guide, endowed with the sobriquet "The Writer's Bible" by production staffers (and used for every such document of later Star Trek productions ever since),

a circular, platformed set where Captain Kirk presides over the whole ship's complex. Access is achieved to this set by means of a turbolift elevator which opens directly into the set. Kirk sits in his command chair in the inner, lower elevation facing the large Bridge Viewing Screen. Directly in front of him, also facing the Screen, sit the Navigator and the Helmsman at their individual console. In the outer circular elevation of the set are various positions for Communications Officer and various Technician Crewmen and other ship's officers. Mister Spock, our Science Officer, presides over a console which is known as the “Library-Computer Station". (3rd ed, 17 April 1967, p. 15)

The bridge format as formally laid down has been largely adhered to for every subsequent Star Trek reincarnation, at least as far as Federation/Starfleet starship vessels were concerned.

Pato Guzman bridge concept art

Very first visual representation of the Enterprise bridge by Guzman

  • Original configuration bridge

After he was finished with the arduous design of the exterior look for the Enterprise in the early autumn of 1964 for the production of the first pilot "The Cage", then Set Designer Matt Jefferies, pressed for time due to the drawn out design process of the ship, immediately set out to work on the design of the bridge, "It was pretty well established with the model that the thing was going to be in a full circle. From there it became a question of how we were going to make it, how it could come apart, where the cameraman could get into it." [1] Together with his supervisor, Pato Guzman, he started to hammer out the details, "The original concept of the bridge being circular was from a little water color or pastel sketch that Pato Guzman did. But it only covered about 180 degrees of the circle, so gradually, when we thought about where we were going to locate it on the ship, and about the things we felt could come up as story points, it became full circle. Which had its advantages, because we were getting into molded fiberglass at the time, we could make a mold and instead of just making one section you could make eight of it. So more set was possible for less money; that's what it amounted to." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 11,  p. 20) When Guzman left in October that year because of home sickness, Franz Bachelin took over his position as Art Director, continuing to put forward designs for what at the time was still called "Control Room"", which however were met with increasing skepticism by Jefferies, as were those of his immediate predecessor, "I had to come up with the construction drawings to actually build these sets, and my problem was in trying to figure out just what the hell Bachelin had done such a pretty painting about. I mean in terms of practicality, his paintings just didn't work; the construction crew would have gone out of their minds trying to build what he'd painted. At any rate, as I had said, I was a nuts-and-bolts man, so I took his basic paintings and used them in creating all of the ship's specific design work. I'm talking mainly about the bridge, the layout, the relationships between Enterprise crew members positions, the original instrumentations–all of this stuff required a massive amount of work." (Star Trek Memories, 1994, p. 57)

Matt Jefferies bridge concept art

Practical bridge lay-out concept by Jefferies

Realizing that the smooth circular designs of Guzman/Bachelin, while not beyond the technical capabilities of the contemporary set constructors, was cost-prohibitive, Jefferies went on to work on a design that, realistically, was more practical to realize. One of the first things he considered, were the conditions any bridge crew had to work under, the ergonomics as it were, even though the nomenclature did not yet exist at the time. Taking his cue from his own experiences as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot, he related, "If you've spent any time around ships or aircraft, then you know that every time a new piece of equipment comes out, you're going to bump your head on it. You've got to duck here and duck there, and if a piece of equipment goes out, then whoever's working with it has got to get out of the way and shut the thing down while they either fix it or replace it. I felt this was kind of stupid, and asked, why don't we change it from the back? Unhook it, pull the thing out, shove a replacement in, and never make the guy have to get up out of his chair." (The Art of Star Trek, p. 7) Later Jefferies elaborated, "The idea of the whole thing was that if a guy's supposed to be on his toes and alert for hours he's going to have to stay sharp, and if you can make him comfortable it will help. So I felt that everything he had to work with should be at hand without him having to reach for it, and at a comfortable angle. During World War II I'd been in B-25's and -24s and -17s, and whenever a new piece of equipment came out it would be hung somewhere that you could knock your head on it, and if anything went wrong then the crewman had to get out of the way and they had to pull the thing down and repair or replace it. I thought that was kind of dumb." For working out the various positions on the bridge stations, Jefferies resorted to the simple means of sitting on a chair by a blank wall, holding out his arms at convenient angles and having his younger brother, John Jefferies (who had some time off from his regular employer and decided to give his older brother a hand), mark the appropriate angles on the wall, or as he himself had put it, "So for the bridge I pushed a chair for each position up against the wall so it felt like a good angle, and my kid brother, my chief draftsman, drew a line so that when you were sitting, regardless of where you looked, the screens would be at right angles to the eyes and everything was reachable." (The Art of Star Trek, p. 7; Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 11, pp. 21-22) However, in designing the bridge there was also a very personal reason involved as his other brother, Richard, recalled, "Contemplating where to begin, Matt remembered that as a boy, he had often seen his father in the control room of a power plant, where he stood and faced an immense switchboard resplendent with colored lights, switches, and gauges. Having to keep a watchful eye on the performance of all of the plant's systems, he had little opportunity to move away from his station. Matt was determined to design a bridge which would allow the crew to sit comfortably, have the advantage of remote control, and have a clear view of the display monitors. To make the command center a model of high-tech efficiency, he used a hands-on approach to attain the desired results." (Beyond the Clouds, pp. 220-221)

Finetuning his bridge design, Jefferies had additionally commented four years later:

"The split-level bridge was not part of the original idea. I did not like it, and in many ways I do not now. There is much to be said for it pictorially, in terms of people movement and picture composition. But it's had a great many difficult ramifications for me. The split-level design limits the type of camera shot you can do, for example. For any close-ups of people on the bridge, you have to jack the camera up off the floor. Another problem that resulted from the split-level design is the high noise level in the bridge. The original bridge was built in "wild" [separate] sections. These sections have a tendency to squeak a great deal because they weaken and loosen from daily usage, being pulled in and out and moved around.

Franz and I has worked out how many people would be on the bridge and what their functions would be. Then Franz proceeded with the design of the rest of the sets of the pilot and left me alone with the bridge. The first thing I did was to work out the size of the units and the shapes of the consoles and screens at each station. I then made a full-size cut-out of each screen, pinned it up on a wall, and sat back in a chair in front of it in order to check the feel of the thing, and how high the screens were to look at. When that checked out properly, I set to work drawing full-size layouts for every button, panel, screen, console, and the eight instruments on each of the eight sections. The full-size drawings were then sent to the construction department so that they could begin building the actual sets. at the same time, I called in the special effects man and got him started building the electrical boxes and equipment that would be needed to light all if those buttons, screens, and so forth. After choosing the proper colors that I wanted for the various view screens and components around the bridge, the final assembly stage was relatively easy." (The Making of Star Trek, pp. 102, 106)

In later years, Jefferies' made some additional remarks on his design, "The elevated platform came about two ways. It had to be elevated to some extent because we had to be able to roll sections in and out, and then we had to get in so we could soundproof the thing, because it became a terrible drum, even with soft-soled shoes." Another aspect he did not quite foresee, was the enthusiasm with which episode directors took to the novel circular design, "Of course every director wanted to get in there and shoot a 360. We did our damnedest to talk them out of it because we knew we were going to wind up on the cutting room floor; the whole world would go by too quick to see anything! So that only happened once or twice." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 11, pp. 20-21)

USS Enterprise bridge console display design

Bridge console display light box design

In regard to the bridge instrumentation, Jefferies elaborated, "I decided that the crewman would work like in the navy, so often would be on for four hours, off eight hours, and it had better be comfortable. The switches would all be so that the crewman doesn't have to reach for anything. Each of the viewing screens would be at right-angles to his eyes, and we drew a full size section of the bridge that way. I wanted an all-black instrument panel that would light up from behind which is pretty much what we came up with. I did all of the artwork on each one of the instruments, and got the negative, put the color on the negative and mounted 'em under black glass. I was still assembling those things on one side of the bridge when they were shooting the other side...." [2], having added later, "Several of the instruments that we had in the bridge were very complicated-looking wiring diagrams. They were actually from the weapons bay on the B-58, a supersonic bomber; I got hold of the manual on the weapons pod. Any symbol that was known we painted out, then we turned it upside down and had a negative made, put it under the black glass, and backlit it." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 11,  p. 22) Actually, Jefferies had initially an early touch-screen console variant in mind for the instrument panels, even though the terminology did not exist either at the time instead calling it "magic jukebox stuff", "For the displays, what I was after was a perfectly plain black panel that would light up when you touched a spot. But the lights were so string that we didn't dare leave them on for more than a matter of seconds, or it would melt the unit under it!" In the end the effect, envisioned as a film sandwiched between two pieces of glass and backlit, did not quite work out as well as Jefferies had intended, and he had to make do with a more static version for the computer readout displays and the overhead projection screens. And even then later special effects staffer Jim Rugg had to jump in frequently and kill the switches to avoid consoles burning out. "I wanted to get a cumulative effect with the lights rather than indiscriminate blinking: what I was trying to do without getting into all kinds of expensive stuff was get an amber, two ambers, three ambers, four ambers and then a red or something like that. All of the instrumentation I did personally: I did the artwork, had it shot, got the negative, put the color in the negative, and then sandwiched it under that black glass.", Jefferies elaborated. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 11,  p. 22) Another graphics display intent, the overhead screens constantly flickering with continuously changing data displays to be realized with a back-rigged slide projector, had to be abandoned for rather mundane reasons. Union regulations stipulated that each of the projectors had to be manually operated by an individual projectionist. A costly proposition from a budgetary standpoint, it was decided to replace the screens with static painted panels, save for those specific instances when the script required a screen to be used, typically on the science station. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 10)

The numerous bright light bulbs on the bridge set had very modest origins as John Jefferies (who remained to also work on the final construction of the bridge set, though he had to do this at nights, as he was working again on movies by day. [3]) recalled, "For the jewel lights on the consoles and the bridge and anywhere we needed a panel that had lights behind it, ice-trays were used that were tipped of on edge to put resin in, put some color in you know.", to which later Set Decorator John Dwyer has added, "That was buttons and light. If we wanted to light them up, we'd drill a hole, put a piece of plastic on top, put a light in the back of it." (TOS Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Designing the Final Frontier")

Joe Lombardi working on the electronics of the original USS Enterprise bridge set

Lombardi wiring the electronics of the original bridge set

The eight wild sections, each of which capable of being moved in and out to allow camera crews access to shoot the bridge at various angles, consisted of the turbo lift, the main viewing screen and six bridge work stations, each with two overhead screens. Constructed at more cost effective straight angles, the sections, when assembled, formed an octagon, approximating the circular form as originally envisioned. Construction of the set was started in November 1964 on Desilu Culver Stage 15 at the Culver City location, which constituted the former De Mille Studios and currently The Culver Studios. The electric wiring alone took hundreds of man hours to complete and when completed all instrumentation could either be operated from an off-stage central panel, or individually operated by performers from their work stations. Jefferies' "special effects man" assigned to the production by Jim Paisley and responsible for the electronics, was Joe Lombardi, Roddenberry's "genius gadgeteer and electrician and jack-of-all-trades" of his 25 August 1964 memo. The bridge set was executed in a somewhat bluish-gray monochromatic color setting at the behest of "The Cage" Director Robert Butler, who wanted the sets to reflect the dark and moody script of the pilot. When completed, the original set was reportedly constructed at a cost of approximately $60,000, or close to ten percent of the pilot's total production costs of $616,000, and took six weeks to complete from conception to construction. (The Making of Star Trek, pp. 106-107; These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, 1st ed, pp. 57-58, 64) Filming, originally slated to start on 30 November, on the new bridge set started for the first time on 2 December 1964 and principal photography was finished the following day. The circular novelty of the bridge design caused Director Butler to be less than enamored with the set, "I remember pleading to get some vertical structures in the bridge, because that was just too "clean" for me. I [tried] like hell to shake up that bridge, and it fell on deaf ears...Anytime I get into a "clean" situation, I start grinding my teeth. And Star Trek was a "clean" situation." (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, 1st ed, p. 57)

Once the first pilot episode was in the can, the bridge set was left standing on the Culver stage, as the unusual situation occurred that a second pilot episode was considered. Once that pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", was approved, live returned to the bridge set, though there were some differences. Matt Jefferies recalled, "Some things didn't work. At some tome Gene wanted a small monitor viewer for each chair. There was one on a gooseneck arm of the captain's chair, and I hated the hell out of it. It just didn't seem logical. We got rid off it because it got in the way of the camera, and sometimes in a scene if we weren't careful it would jump; it would be here one second and there the next." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 11,  p. 22) There were other changes as well, aside from the removal of the "gooseneck" monitors from the captain's chair, most notably the more pronounced color scheme, with starkly contrasting blacks and reds added to the railings, turbolift doors and navigation console. Roddenberry's original "genius gadgeteer and electrician and jack-of-all-trades", Lombardi, was not available for this production, due to obligations elsewhere on the Desilu lot. In his stead, outside contractor Bob Overbeck was hired for the mechanical and special effects. While Overbeck has never again worked afterwards for the Star Trek franchise, he does hold the distinction of providing the very first bridge console explosions. First unit bridge scenes were shot from 20 July through 23 July, with additional second unit photography, not needing the principal cast, shot on 29 July 1965. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One, 1st ed, pp. 87, 90)

Jefferies bridge sketch

Jefferies' refined bridge floorplan

The casts Jefferies referred to, became parts of the so-called "wild-sets" when the bridge was rebuilt for the regular series production, and as far as Associate Producer Robert Justman was concerned they were a God-send, "The other untouchable set was the bridge. My experience with both pilots convinced me it should be filmable from any angle, allowing us to pull out any module quickly without compromising the intricate wiring for all the other consoles. To do This, Matt Jefferies and Roy Long made a mold from one of the heavy, all-wood bridge consoles and used it to cast enough lightweight plastic resin and fiberglass copies for the entire set. Now our grips could quickly pull or reset them for any camera setup that the director chose. Set operations became much more efficient thanks to Matt and STAR TREK 's unsung hero, studio construction chief Roy Long." Continuing, Justman went further into the details of the advantages of having wild-sets, "Next, special effects wizard Jim Rugg and his crew wired every console so that any section could be removed without wreaking havoc upon the electronics in the remaining ones (This monumental job took many weeks of work, and only became operational shortly before we filmed our very first episode, "The Corbomite Maneuver"). While the bridge was now a really wild set, the choice of camera angles was somewhat restricted because the Enterprise miniature had to be photographed flying left to right on screen. This was because the ship's running lights and illuminated power pods were fed by an umbilical which entered the fuselage on the off-camera port side. Therefore, the major angles inside the bridge had to reflect this screen direction. Next time you watch STAR TREK, note that the ship almost always travels from camera left to camera right." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 17,  p. 13) A noticeable difference was that instead of the originally eight wild sets, it was decided to have now ten wild sets, in order to provide directors with additional camera angles to somewhat compensate for the restriction Justman mentioned and with the added advantage that the bridge set now moved even closer to a circular form.

  • Legacy

Jefferies' taking a cue from the Navy's operating procedures had a real life reciprocated effect as the Navy took a cue form his bridge design, as he related in 1987, "We had some talks with the U.S. Navy during the third year of STAR TREK and they wanted to know the theory behind the bridge–the slopes and various angles...We explained it to them and I gave them a full-sized vertical section. There is a letter in the file stating that the Navy did use that as a basis for one of their major communications centers." (Cinefantastique, Vol 17 #2, p. 29) On a later occasion he has added, "Gene called me one day and said there were some navy officers that wanted information on the bridge and why we did it the way we did. So they came in – a commander and a lieutenant – and we treated them to lunch, and I showed them the drawing and pulled the blueprints for them, and they got to look at he bridge itself. We got a nice letter the following week thanking us, and about a year later another thank-you letter saying that the information had led to the design of a new master communications center at NAS San Diego. And they would like to invite me down to see it, but unfortunately it was classified. I didn't bother to tell them that I still had an ultra top secret clearance from work I had done when I was in Washington before coming out here!". (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 11,  p. 21)

When Star Trek: The Animated Series went into production in 1973, the basic design and layout of the bridge as established in the Original Series was adhered to. There was however, a noticeable addition. Producer Gene Roddenberry requested that a second turbolift was added on the bridge in response to fan questions asking what the crew would do if the hitherto one turbolift got stuck. The new lift was located next to the main viewscreen on the forward port side. Having made the request when the production was just started up, this somewhat unusual location was necessitated as the animation cells showing the aft side of the bridge were already made, which made it more expedient to adapt a cell of the far less frequently seen port front side by replacing a bulkhead with the lift, thereby avoiding noticeable and obvious continuity issues. The forward lift was only seen in a few episodes, usually with its doors closed, starting with the fifth episode, "More Tribbles, More Troubles". The lift with its doors open was only seen twice, in "More Tribbles, More Troubles" and "The Terratin Incident". (The Art of Star Trek, p. 46)

Original Series inspired Pegasus bridge concept for War of the Worlds project

Original Series inspired bridge

Around the time the Animated Series was being aired, Jefferies himself, not involved with that series, was working in pre-production as production designer for legendary science fiction movie maker George Pal for his proposed War of the Worlds television series, an intended follow-up of his classic 1953 Paramount Pictures War of the Worlds movie. For the project he conceived a "hero" ship, the "hyperspace carrier" Pegasus, itself an offshoot of the abandoned 1968 Strategic Space Command concept for model kit company AMT. For that ship, Jefferies created bridge concept art work that had a more than passing resemblance to the one he created for the Original Series, with an element added, an access well, reconsidered later on for an early bridge variant for the Star Trek live-action follow-up production, four years later. Ultimately though, the War of the Worlds television project never came to fruition. [4]

  • Refit-configuration bridge

A set of similar design was built and used to serve as the bridges of the Enterprise and Enterprise-A in the first six Star Trek films, though it was frequently redressed to meet the particular tastes of a director and/or production designer.

USS Enterprise bridge, early Phase II concept USS Enterprise bridge, early Phase II concept blueprint USS Enterprise bridge,Phase II layout concepts
Jefferies' earliest Pato Guzman inspired Phase II bridge concept...
...translated into a blueprint..
...passed over in favor of the more classical approach...
USS Enterprise bridge Phase II set construction blueprint USS Enterprise Phase II bridge floorplan USS Enterprise Phase II bridge stations layout
...ultimately translated by Cole into set construction blueprints
Cole's Phase II Enterprise bridge floorplan...
...and her bridge stations layout plans

Making it debut in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the redesigned bridge was actually designed and largely constructed in 1977 for the movie's immediate predecessor, the television project Star Trek: Phase II. Redesign work was started in early June 1977 by the original bridge designer Matt Jefferies, who had agreed to serve on the television production as a temporary "Technical Advisor" only. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, pp. 23-27) Remarkably, Jefferies started out with revisiting Pato Guzman's more futuristic looking original Control Room concept in quite some detail. Yet, after Joe Jennings, Jefferies' second season assistant on the Original Series, came aboard a few days later on his recommendation as art director, it was quickly decided to stick with the classical lines as established for the original bridge and limiting themselves to modernizing the look. What noticeably remained however, was a true circular form, as well as a second turbolift as established in the Animated Series. Graphic Artist Lee Cole joined the two men the subsequent month lending her input to the redesign, most notably that of the bridge instrumentation and their lay-out, and drawing up the set construction blueprints. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 28)

Construction on the bridge set was started on Paramount Stage 9 on 25 July 1977 under the auspices of another Original Series veteran, brought back on Jefferies' recommendation, Special Effects artist Jim Rugg, who was answerable to Jennings. Phase II Producer Robert Goodwin reported in a progress memo to Gene Roddenberry dated 3 August 1977:

"The basic layout of the Enterprise set has been drawn. Work is being concentrated on the two most complicated sections of the set, the bridge and the engine room. The basic shell of the bridge has been approved in design and is currently being built. Platforming should be done by the end of next week. The molding is in construction for our plastic forms, which will cover the wall units. It will approximately a week and a half before the molds are finished and at that point we will begin casting one section a day. (There are 12 sections in the bridge, plus we will be making 6 extra sections, to be used as needed for explosions, special effects, etc.) The shell should be completed by the end of August. At the same time, Matt Jefferies, Joe Jennings and special-effects man Jim Rugg are at work designing and researching new types of instrumentation that will be used within the bridge, including new kinds of computer graphic displays, touch control switches, etc.(...)Joe Jennings and Matt Jefferies are researching new materials that can be used in forms of plastics and metals that were not available to us previously." (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, pp. 36-37)

USS Enterprise bridge set construction start for Phase II USS Enterprise Phase II bridge set nearing completion
Early construction stage of the bridge set
Bridge set nearing completion in October 1977
USS Enterprise bridge science station backside Gene Roddenberry and Jesco von Puttkamer
The wiring on the backside of the science station
NASA advisor Jesco von Puttkamer discussing the wiring behind science station with Roddenberry (l)

The set construction crew wasted no time, as Goodwin was able to report in a follow-up progress report six days later, "Work is continuing on stage 9 with the construction of the Enterprise set. All frames and platforms have been built for the bridge. The plaster mold is almost complete and on Monday we will start casting the plastic skins. There are 12 sections. We will cast 12 skins plus 6 extras.(...)Joe has now drawings of the weapons defense station, which are ready for you to see. Once he gets your approval, he will put working drawings out and we can start construction on that particular station. By Thursday he will have several sketches of proposals for the consoles of the other stations. Mark Tanz, along with Jim Rugg is doing research into various computers and instrument panels etc., which can be used in conjunction with these consoles." The following day Production Illustrator Mike Minor was hired, and one of his first assignments was to produce concept art of the bridge, to give producers and studio executives a feel for the completed look of the bridge. Interestingly, Minor located the second turbolift where the Animated Series had it located. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 37, color inset) In a subsequent 8 September 1977 progress memo, Goodwin became aware of a problem that had bedeviled Robert Justman and his film crew on the Original Series bridge set, "So far we have pulled five skins of the bridge and by next week we will be finished with all twelve skins. The skins are coming off better than we'd hoped for. The only possible problem involved is an echo effects in certain portions of the set, but Joe Jennings has already arranged with Glen Glenn Sound to go over the set and eliminate any of those problems before we start production." (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 43) With the ambient sound problem looked into, construction went otherwise smoothly and encountered no serious other setbacks, as was evidenced in Goodwin's last Phase II production progress memo of 21 October 1977, when he reported that basic construction and painting was completed and that, "Just about all the consoles have been mounted in the bridge and work is going forward on the instrumentation. The consoles for the Engine Room have also been completed. There are two set designers at work finishing the instrumentation drawings, which are immediately given to Jim Rugg, who is putting all available men to work." (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, p. 52)

Then, on 21 November 1977, the executive decision to upgrade Phase II to a major theatrical feature was disseminated through the lower production echelons, and production on Phase II was suspended in order to ascertain the requirements for a motion picture production, including construction on the bridge set, which was nearing completion. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 47) On 12 December 1977 Post-production Supervisor Paul Rabwin inspected the sets to see see if they would hold up in big-screen resolution and deemed them salvageable, albeit with additional upgrading and detailing. To this end he had Director Robert Collins and Camera Man Bruce Logan start shooting test footage and lens tests of the sets on this date, but now with anamorphic lenses, required for wide-screen movies, to get a feel of how these sets will translate on theater screens. Shooting of this test footage lasted for two weeks, and after it was finished the set was abandoned for two months while the producers were gearing up for the production of the movie. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, pp. 67, 73, color inset) When the production was halted, construction costs for the bridge set had just passed the $1 million dollar mark. (Starlog, issue 27, p. 26)

Veterans Matt Jefferies and Jim Rugg by that time had already left the production earlier in November, the former to return to his regular job. Jefferies later sold his bridge design art, including that for the Original Series, in the aforementioned The Star Trek Auction of 12 December 2001. He did not retain ownership of his two, Guzman inspired, early June color bridge designs sketches, which turned up at auction separately later on. The Guzman inspired sketch turned up at Profiles' Hollywood Memorabilia Auction 37 where it as Lot 602 sold on 9 October 2009 for US$2,750 (excluding buyer's premium), having been originally estimated at US$3,000-$5,000. Discovered on the back of one of Jefferies' aviation paintings, the auction description assumed it was done for the Original Series due to its close resemblance to Guzman's original painting. This was dispelled when the blueprint of the Guzman inspired bridge turned up two years later at auction as lot 1449 in Profiles' Hollywood Auction 44, estimated at US$2,000-$3,000, where it sold on 11 May 2011 for US2,360 (including buyer's premium). One of Minor's bridge concept art pieces, the in red tones aft view piece featured below , was after production had wrapped gifted to notable fan Bjo Trimble in recognition for her services to the franchise. She auctioned off her piece in Profile's The Ultimate Sci-Fi Auction of 26 April 2003 as lot 153 for US$1,100 (excluding buyer's premium), having been originally estimated at US$1,500-$2,000.

Life shortly returned in February 1978 to the abandoned and near-complete bridge set, when Robert Abel of Robert Abel & Associates, the company recently contracted for the visual effects, shot test footage in order to ascertain effects requirements, with extras still clad in Original Series/Phase II uniforms. To this end, an internal document, "Enterprise" Flight Manual, still reflecting the Phase II bridge configuration, was drawn up by Cole and Jennings, intended to instruct the stage effects technicians on wiring up all of the work station's control panel backlits, working switches and indicator lights as well as giving performers basic button-pushing lessons, was distributed among the various departments that month, prior to shooting. The manual was a few months later updated to reflect the design changes that were implemented after April. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series, pp. 78, 104-108)

USS Enterprise bridge aft view concept art by Hersey USS Enterprise bridge forward view concept art by Hersey
Hersey's April 1978 crisp aft and forward bridge view concept art
USS Enterprise bridge, Phase II (2) USS Enterprise bridge, Phase II
Minor's earlier aft and forward bridge view concept art, still featuring the weapons station bubble. Note the Animated Series location of the second (or third) turbolift or "head". as some production staffers would have it
USS Enterprise revised bridge set during filming
The revised bridge set during filming

In April 1978, Harold Michelson was brought in by Director Robert Wise as production designer, replacing Joe Jennings as head of the art department. Michelson was responsible to perform redesigns on the Phase II sets in their various states of completion for their motion picture use. The first set he tackled was that of the bridge, and to this end he had a production illustrator, who signed his work with Hersey (nothing else is known about this artist, as he was not credited for his work), translate Minor's artists impressions into more crisp, businesslike non-artistic black and white pencil perspective drawings, already incorporating some of the design changes Michelson had in mind. He began by eliminating the original plastic bubble, representing Chekov's weapons station, already grafted onto a section of the bridge wall. The bubble was supposed to feature neon-lighted cross hairs, with Chekov manipulating them to get a target lock, while he looked out into space (Incidentally, the bubble design was remarkably reminiscent of Roddenberry's original "revolving globe" proposition of 25 August 1964). The round hole was covered up with various technical readouts. Wise requested that Chekov would face the main screen, which was difficult to realize on a circular bridge. Yet there was one corner on the bridge somewhat differently sculpted, for reasons that nobody really knew – production staffers jokingly speculated that it was the bridge's "head", conspicuously missing in the Original Series – , and Michelson had Minor design a new corner for this area, which became the weapons station alcove. A noticeable novelty was the addition for the first time of a bridge ceiling, inspired by the look of a jet engine fan, which Minor also designed. According to Minor it gave the bridge a more human touch, as the ceiling bubble was intended to be a piece of equipment which told the captain the state of the ship's attitude, even though in real space there was no right or left or up and down. Another change Michelson made was the design of the chairs and the captain's chair, from the simple pedestal swivel seats and boxlike captain's chair, reminiscent of the ones used in the Original Series, to girdle clad, multi faceted, ergonomic seats with automatic, switch operated, bracing devises, for which Set Decorator Linda DeScenna concurrently lent a hand in designing. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, pp. 85-88)

When redesigning the bridge instrumentation of the refit-Constitution-class for the Motion Picture, Graphic Designer Lee Cole recalled, "Our original designs for Star Trek I were much more detailed and interesting. Then Gene Roddenberry said, "I want it really plain to try to be futuristic. Cut out all this detail, and simplify things." We did that, but it got a little too plain, I think. It was kind of beige." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 5,  p. 67) Elaborating, she has added, "We did a lot of research in getting the bridge together. We talked to a lot of scientists about what advancements might occur by the 23rd century. But despite our research and our contact with all these brilliant minds, we often couldn't use our findings for the film. I had originally designed the Enterprise consoles to be entirely smooth. The were to be heat sensitive, so a crew member could execute his or her duties by simply waving a hand over the console. No buttons or anything would protrude from the surface." Yet, upon the upgrade to a movie, the notion was reverted, "But Robert Wise said, and rightly so, that those sort of designs just wouldn't be dramatic. In his director's role he explained that, in a really dramatic sense when Sulu's hand is grasping at this lever in an attempt to save the ship, it wouldn't be very exciting not to have a lever there for him to grasp. So we had to violate some scientific principles in order to come up with some big knobs and levers." (Future Life, issue 17, p. 45) Cole's "entirely smooth" consoles, essentially the same proposition Jefferies had made one-and-a-half decade earlier and which was revisited for Phase II, ultimately did turn up a decade later as the touch screen interfaces in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The revisions of the bridge set were finished on time to meet the shooting schedule, which started on 7 August 1978 with a bridge scene, but it did add an additional $205,000 to the hefty $1 million dollar already incurred, making it the most expensive set, as it was for its predecessor and would be for its successors in the Star Trek franchise. (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 95)

Joe Jennings was the production designer on the second outing in the movie franchise, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Due to strict budget limitations, no funding for radical redesigns was available, and the bridge set was pretty much reused as it was for its previous movie outing. To facilitate the vision, Director Nicholas Meyer had in mind for the movie, relatively simple and inexpensive means of redressing were used to give the bridge a more sleeker, utilitarian and nautical feel. These included a repaint in darker colors, different lighting in reddish hues and adding new bridge console graphics predominantly executed in contrasting green, all of which contributed to achieve the feel. There were modifications to the bridge set electronics though. At Producer Robert Sallin's insistence the film projectors used in the previous movie to put graphics on the screens around the bridge, were replaced with especially adapted television monitors that did not strobe on screen. Most of the original films were transferred to video so that the majority of the originally featured graphics stayed the same. New, animated ones, such as the targeting graphics displays and essentially early CGI effects, were constructed at Evans & Sutherland. Still, with these novelties added, there still remained some problems associated with the advanced nature of the bridge set. Jennings had to install a series of fans in order to cool the many built in electronics, which started to melt the instrument panels, when turned on too long. Additional electronics modifications were performed, as Jennings clarified, not entirely without its own set of drawbacks, "That bridge had no visual controls whatsoever. When everything was turned of, it was absolutely shiny, blank, black; everything was activated by proximity switches. All the actor had to do was just wiggle his fingers over the top of it and the lights would come on and start doing their winky-blinkies. Well, sometimes they set the proximity switches up too high, and somebody would walk by'em and the whole panel would turn on" (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 5,  p. 67) The movie marked the first and only time that actual use was made of the way a bridge set was constructed for production purposes, i.e. in wedge shaped sections. In its role as the Mark IV bridge simulator, the main view screen section was pulled out to allow Admiral Kirk access to the simulator at the end of the Kobayashi Maru scenario exam, featured at the beginning of the movie. The studio background was skillfully camouflaged by smoke and strong counter-light flooding for the scene. Virtually produced back-to-back, the bridge set was not further modified for its subsequent movie outing, The Search for Spock.

William Shatner, director on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, had been so impressed with Herman Zimmerman's work on Star Trek: The Next Generation as production designer, that he hired Zimmerman to upgrade the Enterprise interiors for the film. Hence, the upgraded bridge from the movie resembled the bright atmosphere portrayed in The Next Generation, although strictly speaking, his predecessor Jack T. Collis had already applied the brightened atmosphere, in order to reflect the lighter tone of the movie as set by Director Leonard Nimoy, on the bridge at the end in the previous movie outing, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, by repainting the set without otherwise modifying it, save for one feature; The graphics on the bridge console displays were replaced with new ones by Mike Okuda in his first motion picture assignment. Decades later Zimmerman later jokingly commented after seeing the film, considered so flawed by so many, "After the show was over, I was pretty sure I would never do another!" (The Art of Star Trek, p. 249; Star Trek: 45 Years of Designing the Future) For The Final Frontier, while the bright color scheme remained the same, the bridge stations received an upgrade in the form of wall covering computer console displays, for which Okada, now firmly established as Star Trek's resident scenic artist, provided his famed Okudagrams, which actually could be considered somewhat of a continuity error. For Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, however, the bridge was once more redressed to again reflect director Meyer's earlier, more militaristic approach for The Wrath of Khan.

Aside from representing the main bridge of the refit-Constitution-class, the set has also doubled, frequently redressed, on numerous occasion as the bridge of several other Starfleet/Federation vessels, with a simulator and a Romulan one to boot; These included the bridges of the

Constructed in 1977, with its last recorded use in 1999, the refit-Constitution-class bridge set, has been the longest-lived standing set in the history of the live-action Star Trek franchise. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director's Edition)-special feature, "text commentary"; Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, individual episode entries; Star Trek Encyclopedia, individual ship entries)

Jefferies tube setEdit

Quite early on in the production of the regular Original Series run, the need for a dramatic devise was perceived in order to emphasize particular tense, emergency moments in an episode, which the producers found in the form of a cramped internal maintenance conduit, the Jefferies tube. Executive in Charge of Production Herb Solow elaborated, "Necessity made Matt Jefferies the absolute mother of Star Trek invention. As Engineering Officer Scott gained importance, there came the need for a compact set where Scotty could feverishly work to effect emergency repairs on the ship’s internal circuitry, when the preservation of the galaxy and the future of the Enterprise was in doubt. With short notice and little money, Matt designed a tall cylinder that later became known as the "Jefferies Tube". The camera could shoot straight down at Engineer Scott as he clung to the inside of the cramped set with lights flickering all around him. An assortment of bells, whistles, gongs and beeps was laid in afterward by the sound editors." (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 167)

Jefferies tube design sketch by Matt Jefferies Jefferies tube access port, Charlie X Scotty JefferiesTube
Jefferies' "Engineering Power Shaft" design...
...its entrance as featured.. is its interior...
Kelby (mirror) Kelby (mirror)2 Constitution class jefferies tube junction
...and recreated for the USS Defiant...
...where it exited to...
...the more spacious, horizontally aligned overhead Jefferies tubes
Jefferies tube, vertical Enterprise lieutenant with trident scanner USS Defiant TOS Jefferies tube
The original vertical Jefferies tube of the USS Enterprise ...
...recreated for "Trials and Tribble-ations"...
...and partially reconstructed for the USS Defiant
  • Original configuration Jefferies tube

Set Designer John Jefferies, the younger brother to Matt and who, with his team, had to build his brother's designs, recalled how the Original Series Jefferies tube was constructed, "It was the only part of that set that was moved on [note: meaning it was a mobile set, mounted on rollers], that was on an incline, and it was made out of a Sona Tube that we cut and expanded a little bit. Sona Tubes were large cardboard tubes that could be purchased. They were used for forming concrete and we would buy these in either eight- or ten-foot lengths and they came in many varying diameters. They ran about a half an inch thick and they were wrapped cardboard. Well, we found these marvelous for pieces of set and curved walls, because they were quick." (TOS Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Designing the Final Frontier") Robert Justman has added, "Whenever shooting scripts called for the Jefferies Tube, Matt added more dojiggers and thingamajigs to it. Since there was no space available on Stage 8 to keep the contraption set up all the time, Jefferies put his tube on wheels so it could be easily moved in whenever it became necessary for Scotty to restore "war-rp" power and save the galaxy. Again." (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, p. 168) To the cramped, at an angle inclined tube was later added a wider, vertically orientated one, with a three-sided ladder in the center, frequently seen recessed in the hallways of the Enterprise.

While Jefferies himself had endowed his design with the designation "Engineering Power Shaft", the set quickly went under the denominator "Jefferies tube" amongst the production staffers themselves as an in-joke. Jefferies himself had indicated, "Somebody hung the name Jefferies Tube on it. It wasn't me, but the name stuck and I used it in some of my sketches!" (Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook, p. 72) Never elevated to canon during the Original Series, the name indeed stuck and was adopted by Star Trek production staffers for every subsequent Star Trek production ever since and was expanded to the larger, more spacious service conduits as well, seen later in the franchise. Elevation into canon only came about in 1990, when the scene 58 line "Danar must have climbed the reactor core and gotten into a Jefferies tube." was spoken aloud by Lieutenant Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation's third season episode "The Hunted".

An annotation on Jefferies' design sketch read that he had designed the Jefferies tube for the first season episode "The Enemy Within", though it was not featured there. The entrance of the tube was first seen in that season's episode "Charlie X", whereas the interior of the tube was for the first time seen in "The Naked Time", both of which produced later, but aired before "The Enemy Within".

Nearly four decades later, in 2005, set designers on Star Trek: Enterprise recreated the cramped inclined original Jefferies tube as an USS Defiant (NCC-1764) one, for the fourth season episode "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II". Concurrently, they dressed one of the standing NX-class sets to approximate the appearance of the original vertical one with the addition of a three-sided ladder. The vertical tube had already been recreated once before in 1996 for the Deep Space Nine fifth season homage episode "Trials and Tribble-ations". The Enterprise episode though, added to canon as well, as it was established that the inclined Jefferies tube was actually an access passage to more spacious horizontally aligned overhead maintenance conduits in the original configuration Constitution-class vessels. These too, were standing Enterprise NX-01 sets, which the set decorators and designers adapted as much as possible to resemble the visual style of the Original Series, most notably by adding, or painting the existing, tubings and pipings in the bright colors as was established for that series and including the application of GNDN signage already applied in the Original Series and renowned in Star Trek lore. (ENT Season 4 DVD-special features, "Inside the 'Mirror' Episodes" & "In a Mirror, Darkly: Audio commentary")

Jefferies' original design sketch drawing was later sold as Lot 117 in Profiles' earlier mentioned 2001 The Star Trek Auction, having had an estimate of US$200-$300.

23rd Century Service Crawlway

A spacious, horizontal Jefferies tube on the USS Enterprise-A; Note the "GNDN" signage on the overhead pipings

  • Refit-configuration Jefferies tube

Part of the reason why the designation "Jefferies tube" stuck was, that it evolved from an in-joke to a homage, as Jefferies became revered by his production designer/art director successors on the subsequent Star Trek incarnations. Archivist Penny Juday has explained in 2002, "The Jefferies tube is used even today. The last feature [note: Star Trek Nemesis] is an example, where she took the Jefferies tube and made it really big. That's where you see the Viceroy and you see Commander Riker fighting together, is inside a larger version of the Jefferies tube. So, Herman Zimmerman has made sure that the name sticks, and he has always idolized Matt and his work. And he has always tried to incorporate Matt's work and designs and to make sure that the theme is carried on into the new TV series and all of the features. Almost all the time - not in every episode of course - but when we need a crawl space, that's exactly what we use; It's always called a Jefferies tube." (TOS Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Designing the Final Frontier") As it so happened, it was actually Zimmerman who was the production designer on the earlier movie The Final Frontier, where he had already made use of the opportunity to design a large and, as it turned out, the only Jefferies tube seen on a refit-Constitution-class vessel, although he was not yet able to get the expression "Jefferies tube" elevated into canon at the time.

Other interior setsEdit
  • Refit-configuration interiors
Officers lounge location

Probert's suggestion for the officers' lounge location

Officers lounge concept

Officers' lounge concept art

One of Andrew Probert's key concerns as production illustrator on The Motion Picture was that the sets built somehow conformed to the structure of the starship they were supposed to exist within. Here we see Probert's development sketches for an officer's lounge in the saucer section's upper dome. Probert's concept art was, however, not used for the movie, and a much cheaper set was constructed for the scene.

TMP Enterprise cut

Cutaway sketch

Probert's main contribution for the Enterprise interior came in the form of the vessel's cargo deck, thoughts on which had already been visualized by veteran Mike Minor, before Probert had a chance to address it. Minor worked at the Paramount lot, while Probert was at the Robert Abel & Associates special effects facility, designing various pieces of space hardware.

The thinking, then at Paramount under production designer Harold Michelson, was that the cargo bay would be a space 30 feet high that had two walls with twelve holes containing cargo pods. Mike Minor's cargo deck design shows us cargo pods simply stacked or lined up on the deck, leaving a huge open and unused space above. The walkways along the sides were also rather old fashioned looking.

The image to the right shows the plate of the cargo deck scene, filmed from Kirk's perspective as he enters the new Enterprise. What Andrew Probert was required to do was to get a frame of plate film and have it printed at a pre-determined size. Part of this frame, required for the live action elements, would be cut out and pasted to a piece of illustration board. The remaining blank board, intended to be the matte, would then be painted around that piece, blending the two together.

Following a discussion with Douglas Trumbull examining the logic of the early cargo deck concepts, this elevation sketch of the Enterprise was drawn by Andrew Probert upon Trumbull's question how the pods would get in and out of the cargo deck. What Probert proposed was that the landing bay and cargo deck be connected, allowing the easy passage of cargo trains.

The idea was that shuttles would normally take off from and land in the landing bay. They then could be lowered to the Hanger Bay level, or lowered another level to shuttle maintenance. A multi-paneled two-story door, between the elevators and cargo bay, has been opened to the sides allowing the transfer of cargo.

The design was used in the next five films as the Enterprise and the Enterprise NCC-1701-A. It was intended to reveal in Star Trek: The First Adventure that the familiar design was a refit: originally the Enterprise had no secondary hull, and bore a striking similarity to an NX-class ship.

Ship's operations graphicsEdit

Though production wise the term "master systems display" (MSD) was only introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, several episodes and movies established that graphics and schematics, sharing some properties similar with those of a MSD, were already in use in in the The Original Series, and the first six Star Trek films, both wall mounted as well as computer console read-outs

  • Original configuration operations graphics
Constitution class hull pressure compartment's graphic design by Matt Jefferies Graphic situated next to the bridge turbolift
Jefferies' original display graphic design...
...featured as the graphic situated next to the bridge turbolift...
Hull pressure compartments Hull pressure comp'ts on the bridge
...and as the hull pressure comp'ts graphic on a computer console...
...also featured on a bridge monitor console of the USS Enterprise (right)

The best known of these graphics was the large rudimentary graphic situated on the bulkhead right next to the turbolift doors on the bridge (on the left when entering the lift from the bridge). That graphic was designed and fabricated by Matt Jefferies. Ironic is that, due to its background position on the set, a more detailed view was only afforded in "The Naked Time", though the graphic could be seen throughout the entire run of the series. Lacking a caption, it can not be ascertained with certainty what the in red emphasized sections signify, though obvious candidates are turboshafts or Jefferies tubes. Doug Drexler proceeded from the former assumption as he had situated the turbolift shafts on his below-mentioned graphic exactly on the same locations as the original graphic.

Two smaller back-lit variations of the graphic, labeled "Hull pressure comp'ts", also appeared in TOS. One was first seen on the workstation left of the communications station on the bridge in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and later on the engineering workstation in "Errand of Mercy", the second variation was seen on a computer console in "Day of the Dove". The first variation showed up as Lot 03 on 8 August 2010 in the Propworx "The Official Star Trek Prop and Costume Auction", estimated at US$10,000-$20,000, where it sold for US$14,000. It was resold for US$20,000 ($24,600 including buyers premium) in the 2012 Profiles in History's Hollywood Auction 49 as Lot 914, having been estimated at US$20,000-$30,000. The second one is discussed in Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook, page 113, where it is revealed that that graphic was taken out of a bridge console and photographed in the computer console, but due to an oversight was not put back and never used again. It consequently ended up in Jefferies' possession, who eventually sold it as Lot 176, with an estimate of US$3,000-$5,000 in Profile's The Star Trek Auction, on 12 December 2001. In the same auction, Jefferies' original production drawing, that served as basis for the graphics, was also sold as Lot 87, having had an estimate of US$1,000-$2,000.

USS Defiant (NCC-1764) schematic

A schematic of the starship USS Defiant (NCC-1764)

A cut-away schematic appeared in the Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly" on the USS Defiant's bridge, was a graphic originally created by Senior Production Illustrator Doug Drexler for the Star Trek: Captain's Chair CD-rom. [X]wbm It was used unaltered for the episode and situated main engineering in the secondary hull, though that was never firmly established in the Original Series. "Matt and I talked about this. He thought having engineering in the primary hull defeated the whole idea. You wanted to be able to get rid of it if you had to. Besides, why put engineering any place else other than the engineering section? There was an Impulse deck in the Primary Hull.", Drexler later rationalized. [X]wbm As for the layout of the warp engines, akin to that of the refit, he elaborated, "We didn't speak specifically about that. But obviously a huge exchange of energy was taking place behind that hex grill in Engineering, within the ship. We also know that the Dilithium crystals came up out of the floor in the main engineering room (that tells me the warp core is horizontal and lives under there. In my mind, it extends all the way back under the amazing cathedral manifold). We know that all the ships power is being pulled through these crystals, and we know they aren't in the nacelles. So the engineering hull is designed to split from the primary hull. Something nasty is happening in the warp nacelles as well, and they are designed to jettison." [X]wbm

  • Refit-configuration operations graphics

Remarkably, unlike the Original Series, and unlike the later introduced other major Federation/Starfleet starship-classes, the refit-Constitution-class vessels as seen in the first six movies, have never sported a large wall mounted ship's operations graphic, whether it was on the bridge or in main engineering. Numerous smaller computer console ones were featured though, on the various work stations scattered around the bridge as backlit graphic transparencies.

Saucer separationEdit

A saucer separation was suggested in the original script of the Original Series episode "The Apple" but not produced due to budgeting. The capability was however envisioned by the producers, "Designed to operate separately from the rest of the ship, the saucer therefore contains all elements necessary for independent operation." (The Making of Star Trek, p. 171) The original saucer separation intent was reconfirmed years later on two occasions, when efforts were underway to revitalize the live-action franchise. Production illustrator for Star Trek: Planet of Titans, Ralph McQuarrie, stated on several of the concept drawings he had created for a newly conceived Enterprise, "The saucer of the Enterprise (which was detachable) ends up in the shroud. They meet the aliens and had a dramatic finale. These two images are of the Enterprise saucer in the shroud.(...)The disc of the Enterprise would separate from the rest of the ship to land on the surface of planets." [5] The sketches, McQuarrie referred to, of the independently operating saucer section, were published in The Art of Ralph McQuarrie (pp. 124-129). The second occasion occurred when Star Trek: Phase II Producer Robert Goodwin reported in a progress memo dated 8 September 1977, "Meanwhile we're having a new model of the Enterprise constructed, with the added bonus of a saucer section which can separate from the engine nacelles, should such a maneuver be a necessary part of some story. This capacity of the Enterprise was described in The Making of Star Trek, although it was never utilized in the first series." (Starlog, issue 11, p. 39)

Probert separation 2

TMP saucer separation concept

Probert separation 1

TMP saucer separation concept

Yet another saucer separation sequence was envisioned by Andrew Probert in 1978 when script treatments for Phase II's successor, The Motion Picture, were in flux. During a lull in script development Probert came up with an alternative scene in which V'Ger releases a Klingon K't'inga-class battle cruiser. Upon re-materialization the Klingons true to their nature immediately attack the Enterprise. During the battle Kirk is forced to a perform a maneuver akin to that of William T. Riker in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". Douglas Trumbull liked the idea and had Probert draw up color story-boards to show the sequence. Some of the story-boards were published in Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 22,  p. 132, and in The Art of Star Trek, pages 198-199. Probert's concept was not entirely a flight of fancy as the actual studio model was constructed in such a way that a saucer separation could be filmed if the need arose. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 3rd ed., page 9) Probert himself remarked in this regard, "The Enterprise was always designed to separate from the Engineering section. I knew about this when I did Star Trek: The Motion Picture. And if you look at the bottom of Kirk's Enterprise [note: original configuration], you'll notice two triangular items, which are two of the landing feet for the saucer. Regardless of whether it was Matt Jefferies' original intention or not, it's sort of the way that "Trekdom" or "Star Trek lore" has labeled those features. So taking my cue from that for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, I placed four landing legs in the bottom of the Enterprise and crated a very specific separation line on the dorsal." (Star Trek: The Next Generation USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D Blueprints, booklet, p. 8)

Footnotes Edit

Constitution primary phaser Technical journal
First Constitution-class designation mention in a phaser technical diagram for "Space Seed"... ultimately read by Scotty in "The Trouble with Tribbles"...
Chief engineer Montgomery Scott examining a Constitution class diagram
...and on a diagram in The Undiscovered Country

1 "Starship-class": If one read the dedication plaque on the bridge of the original Enterprise, it was actually listed as "Starship Class". The term "Constitution-class" originated from the script for the season one episode "Space Seed". Scene 44 of the Second Revised Final Draft for "Space Seed," dated December 13, 1966 had the following content:

It is covered with mathematical symbols and diagrams. CAMERA PULLS BACK to show Khan studying with great concentration. He pushes a button. Another transparency appears: a chapter heading, reading: BASIC SPECIFICATIONS, CONSTITUTION CLASS STAR SHIP.

The graphic that was constructed for this script direction, but which was ultimately not used in the episode according to the influential "The Case of Jonathan Doe Starship" article by Greg Jein, published in the April 1973 issue 27 of the T-Negative fanzine, did make its first canon appearance in the second season episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", as an otherwise unreadable graphic of a technical journal on a computer screen that Scotty was reading, showing a phaser bank diagram for a "Constitution-class" starship. The graphic was actually created by Art Director Matt Jefferies, who used his own extensive aviation library as his source. Depicted were two varieties of hydraulic fluid reservoirs, used by the US Air Force at the time. [6] The graphic was endowed with a caption that read,


While this scripted reference was "understood" to have established the Enterprise belonging to the Constitution-class ever since by production staffers and fans alike, it was not until 1982 that the designation started to seep into canon. Authors of reference works such as Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual were privy to scripts' contents, and to the fact that Enterprise herself was Constitution-class, even though it had never been mentioned in dialog or been readable on screen. Drawings from the aforementioned Technical Manual with the class name appeared on screen, again unreadable, in The Wrath of Khan and The Search for Spock. These were the first occasions a canonical production assigned the Constitution name to the class designation of the Enterprise. The Voyage Home assigned this class name to the refit-Enterprise as well, although some production staff previously and, apparently, unofficially called that design Enterprise-class, which actually was utilized, and discernible, for the Mark IV bridge simulator seen in The Wrath of Khan. The name Enterprise-class was also used in reference to the refitted Enterprise and the Enterprise-A in Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise, though that particular reference book is neither considered canon nor "official". (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 11,  p. 71)

The first time it was actually referred to as such in dialog, was by Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the first season episode "The Naked Now" of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was followed by the first firm visual, clearly legible, confirmation in the form of the heading of a blueprint Scotty was examining in The Undiscovered Country, firmly establishing the fact in canon and concurrently dispelling any Enterprise-class notion definitively, as this blueprint also clearly noted his ship as a Constitution-class vessel. The designation has been mentioned several times and been more prominently visible in later series and episodes referencing ships of the Original Series and movies design. In the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly" the dedication plaque of the USS Defiant (NCC-1764) clearly stated that she belonged to the Constitution-class (In the original third season episode "The Tholian Web", the plaque, which was of course Enterprise's, could not be seen due to deliberate camera angles). Not being one of the ships listed in the original final names list as reproduced in The Making of Star Trek (p. 165), used by the production team of the series, and although not being canon, this strongly suggested two things according to Greg Jein; Firstly, Starfleet changed its nomenclature from Starship-class to Constitution-class during the run of the Original Series-era (nicely tying in with Scotty keeping abreast by reading technical updates for the ship he is working on), and secondly, the Defiant belonged to a later batch of Constitutions (supported by the fact she has the highest registry number of all the definitively established Constitutions). Commissioned somewhere during the Original Series-era, she therefore had an unfortunately short career, at least in Star Trek's prime universe, or as Jein had succinctly put it, "Tough break". [7]

2 The launch date of the class has never been established, but the reference book The Making of Star Trek stated on page 203 that the producer's intent was that the "Enterprise-class starships have been in existence for about forty years." Its author Stephen Whitfield, who had full access to production sources, wrote the book during the production of season two, narrowing the class launch window down to the mid-2220's. Interestingly, this meant that the Enterprise was a relative late-comer into the class, as its launch year was generally understood, but not firmly established, to be 2245 by production staffers and as was propagated in numerous reference books afterwards. Greg Jein in his article also proceeded from this understanding, and taking his cue from the "MK IX/01" annotation in the aforementioned technical journal graphic, postulated the ship to be of a newer "MK IX" subclass, with the USS Constitution (NCC-1700) as its (sub-)class vessel, in the process trying to make sense of the lower registry numbers by postulating them to belong to older sub-classes. Jein postulated the Enterprise as the second MK IX subclass member, hence the justification of the "01" addition to both the registry "NCC-17" and the technical journal graphic as seen, the reasoning adopted by the original registry designer, Matt Jefferies, as he himself had stated above. [8]

3 There may only be twelve Constitution-class ships as of the first season episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday", but the line this was drawn from ("there are only twelve like it in the fleet"), has given rise to speculation that the Enterprise should be excluded from the count, meaning there could be thirteen Constitution-class ships as of that date. The twelve ship assertion was actually supported by production sources, as The Making of Star Trek (pp. 163, 203) clearly stated that, as far as the production staff was concerned, the intent was that there were twelve operational ships of the class foreseen for the second season by the time of its production, the Enterprise included and taking into account the two ships, USS Valiant and USS Farragut, already established as being destroyed in the first season episode "A Taste of Armageddon", and already foreseen as mentioned destroyed in the second season episode "Obsession", respectively. Kirk's statement then neatly corresponded with the twelve ship assumption; two, the Farragut and Valiant, presumed destroyed before the remark, with the USS Constellation (in "The Doomsday Machine", and already accounted for by D.C. Fontana in her memo version, though it was still in operation at the time of "Tomorrow is Yesterday" canonically) and USS Intrepid (in "The Immunity Syndrome") being destroyed after the remark. It should be noted that the inclusion of the Valiant was a late addition and that it was not even considered in the first two proposals. This, canonically speaking at least, constituted somewhat of a conundrum, an observation not lost on Greg Jein, as he had noted that the ship in question was already destroyed in 2217, whereas the Constitutions only became operational a decade later as far as was established by the producers. [9] While another, new ship would have made more sense, the intent of the producers was clear, the class was retro-applied to the lost ship. Yet, the twelve ship statement only held true under the supposition that the Defiant – not foreseen by the producers – had not yet been commissioned, which is open to debate; otherwise, and this was implied by the fact that the ship was already fully operational less than a year later, the thirteen ship number became valid.

After some corresponding with suggestions to and fro, the definitive name list of vessels belonging to the, then still called Starship-class, was agreed upon by the producers (dutifully carried over to the decal sheet of AMT's 1968 re-issue USS Enterprise model kit) at the start of the series' second season, and comprised the following vessels (The Making of Star Trek, pp. 164-165):

D.C. Fontana's[1] proposal 8 August 1967

  • Enterprise
  • Exeter
  • Essex
  • Excalibur
  • Lexington
  • Yorktown
  • Endeavor
  • El Dorado
  • Excelsior
  • Saratoga
  • Constellation (destroyed in "Doomsday Machine." Presume she would be replaced by Starfleet)
  • Hornet
  • Wasp
  • Farragut (mentioned as destroyed in "Obsession")
  • Hood
  • Bonhomme Richard
  • Monitor or Merrimac, depending upon your loyalties
  • Tori ("bird" [note: in Japanese])
  • Lafayette
  • Ari ("lion" [note: in Hebrew])
  • Krieger ("warrior" [note: in German])

Bob Justman's[2]proposal 9 August 1967

  • Enterprise
  • Essex
  • Excalibur
  • Lexington
  • Yorktown
  • Endeavor
  • Eagle
  • Constellation
  • Hornet
  • Wasp
  • Lafayette

Definitive list as utilized at the start of TOS Season 2

  • Enterprise
  • Exeter
  • Excalibur
  • Lexington
  • Yorktown
  • Potemkin
  • Republic
  • Hood
  • Constitution
  • Kongo
  • Constellation
  • Farragut
  • Valiant
  • Intrepid
  1. Aside from the remarks behind several of the names, Fontana further annotated on her memo,"Alternates include the names of some famous fighting ships of the past, plus a couple of international variations we might consider, Star Fleet being composed of a united service."
  2. Justman noted in his memo, "I think there would be several other candidates, such as Saratoga and perhaps another English carrier, a French carrier, a Russian carrier and certainly a Japanese carrier [note: though the ultimately chosen Kongo was in reality a World War I and II -era Japanese battleship, as were the British HMS Hood and Russian Potemkin, whereas, with the exception of the Excalibur and the Endeavor, all other by Justman proposed names were those of World War II aircraft carriers, the Constellation being an at the time recent US post-war carrier]. In addition, I think a name ought to be made up that would be of Vulcan origin [note: though not adopted, some of Justman's notion was carried over to having the Intrepid a crew that was almost entirely composed of Vulcans]."

4 Certain ships: While most of these ships were already confirmed as class member in the Original Series, even more emphatically reaffirmed in its 2006-2008 remastered version, the classification of others was more tentatively derived. The "NCC-1707" was only identified by a Constitution-class icon in two display panels created for The Voyage Home, whereas the Eagle, Korolev, Emden, Endeavour, and Ahwahnee, with their respective registry numbers, were likewise all derived from the Operation Retrieve mission charts artwork, seen in the Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Special Edition) DVD, where they too were represented by Constitution-class icons. Michael Okuda, who created the mission charts, hinted at the fact they were intended to be of this class,

"If I recall correctly, the charts visible on film/video listed only ship names and registry numbers. One can probably glean some class designations from the ship icons in the diagrams. I don't have the original art handy (I think it's archived on Syquest disks, which I don't have the ability to read, even if I could find the disks themselves), but I recall giving the info to Bjo Trimble, and I'm pretty sure she used most of it in her revised Star Trek Concordance. I might note that some of the ship registry numbers came from Greg Jein's interpretation of the starship chart in Commodore Stone's office in "Shore Leave" (TOS). Other registry numbers came from Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual or his Starship blueprints. In still other cases, the ships and/or numbers did not come from either source, but were consistent with some fleet status charts I did elsewhere on the Enterprise-A in Star Trek VI. (In other words, there's something that just about everyone will disagree with, but I also hoped that there would be at least something that almost everyone would agree with.) I should also point out that I prepared several charts for the rescue briefing scene, and that not all of them ended up in the final cut of the film. I don't recall which ones were used, or which ones ended up unseen. I do seem to recall that there was at least one chart that had quite a number of registries - mostly, I recall, from FJ's work - that ended up unused." [10]

5 The Star Fleet Technical Manual lists the Defiant as NCC-1717, though the reference book has since then been considered non-canon and treated as apocryphal by the franchise. On-screen the ship was endowed with the registry number NCC-1764, though it was not discernible in its original appearance in "The Tholian Web".

  • Registry numbers: Although the Star Trek Encyclopedia and other reference works provided complete registry numbers for many Constitution-class ships, these numbers were until 2006 at best conjecture. Many of the Encyclopedia's numbers were derived from Greg Jein's above-mentioned "The Case of Jonathan Doe Starship" article, which assumed that the list seen on the wall at Starbase 11 in "Court Martial" were all Constitutions. Yet, once the 2006 remastered version of the series came along, Michael Okuda made use of the opportunity to marry Jein's conjectural registry numbers, where applicable, to their respective ship names, thereby elevating conjecture to canon for those registry numbers, including that of the Defiant.

6 Uncertain ships: These ships have been listed in various reference works as Constitutions, but were never canonically established on screen as such, and are therefore of uncertain class. There was another factor to consider - in the Original Series-era, ships that were identified as starships were automatically considered to be of the Starship-class ship, or in later reference works, the Constitution-type starship. This would account for the inclusion of the USS Carolina in this list, plus the unnamed ships from the Starbase 11 chart. The Farragut, Kongo, Republic, Valiant and Yorktown were from The Making of Star Trek, as discussed above.

7 USS Yorktown: Gene Roddenberry suggested that the USS Enterprise-A was first designated as USS Yorktown, and later recommissioned as USS Enterprise-A, probably because Yorktown was the original name used in Roddenberry's 1964 proposal pitch to NBC. Roddenberry felt that it was very unlikely that a brand new ship would have been constructed so fast after the destruction of the original Enterprise. (Star Trek Encyclopedia, 3rd edition. p. 572) Had this became canon, the Yorktown would have been definitively been established as a Constitution-class vessel, which had been the intent of the Original Series producers in the first place. It would have also served as a convenient rationale why Scotty had so much trouble getting the ship into operational order in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier after the debilitating effects the Whale Probe inflicted on the ship in the previous outing. The notion of the re-naming was flat-out stated by Michael Okuda as being the case in his Star Trek: The Next Generation Writers' Technical Manual's (2nd edition, p. 6), somewhat toned down in his later published reference works, but emphatically reaffirmed in the even later officially endorsed Star Trek Fact Files and the 2010 reference book USS Enterprise Owners' Workshop Manual (p. 38 and on which Okuda served as the technical consultant). The Starfleet practice of renaming a vessel for a very deserving other vessel was later canonically established in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, when the USS Sao Paulo was rechristened USS Defiant when the original latter was destroyed in the Dominion War. (DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil", "The Dogs of War")

  • On a side note; The World War 2 aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6), after which Roddenberry named the NCC-1701, was a sister ship of the USS Yorktown (CV-5), belonging to the same Yorktown-class, the other one being the USS Hornet (CV-8), a name also considered by the aforementioned staff in an earlier draft of the names list. (The Making of Star Trek, p. 164) The three class sisters had their finest hour at the Battle of Midway in 1942, where they operated together, but where the Yorktown was lost. The Hornet and the Wasp (a scaled down variant of the Yorktown-class and another name considered by the producers) were lost later in the war, leaving the Enterprise the sole class survivor. Like its fictional counterpart, the historical Enterprise has become one of history's most celebrated vessels.

Apocrypha Edit

Constitution-class registry Edit

Although not considered canon, several sources have produced a long list of Constitution-class starships. The main source was Franz Joseph's aforementioned Star Fleet Technical Manual, which listed over 100 Constitution-class ships divided into sub-classes: Constitution, Bonhomme Richard, Achernar and Tikopai. Ships of the class were later expanded by other publications such as Ships of the Star Fleet which included the Endeavour, Enterprise, and Enterprise (II) sub-classes. It should be noted that Joseph incorporated all the ship names the Original Series producers had originally proposed at the start of the second season.

Apocrypha appearances Edit

  • The Constitution-class was present in the alternate Star Fleet Universe, where it served as the backbone of Starfleet from its inception in the Y120s to the advent of the General War and the related deployment of the Chicago-class New Heavy Cruiser. In the Star Fleet Universe, the Constitution design is descended from the Republic-class cruiser, the first in that universe's Federation fleet to possess the saucer and nacelle configuration. (Some of the older ships were refitted into Constitution-class ships over time, while others became part of the Federation National Guard, protecting the major member worlds.) In time, the advent of more advanced technology resurrected the ship design through the Vincennes-class vessels, a parallel evolution to that seen in the change from the TOS-era Enterprise to the TMP ship design. Notably, a number of the ships referred to in the original series (such as the Hood and the Excalibur) or listed in the Technical Manual (such as the Kongo) are expanded upon in the Star Fleet Universe – but due to the licensing restrictions under which ADB operate, the Enterprise herself is not detailed, though her registry is included.
  • A saucer separation has been depicted in the DC Comics Star Trek: Debt of Honor. Here Kirk used "explosive bolts" to sever the connection between the saucer module and the engineering section of the USS Farragut. The same trick was used again in the DC Comics Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Saga, where Kirk and his crew escaped the self-destruction of the ISS Enterprise's engineering section in a last-minute separation. Another Constitution-class ship, the USS Confederate, was shown operating without its saucer section in Marvel Comics Star Trek Unlimited Issue 4; after the crew abandoned the engineering hull via saucer separation due to a failure in an experimental propulsion system upgrade. In the early drafts of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Enterprise was to separate the saucer. The 2006 Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendar includes a picture of a separated Constitution-class ship, engaging Klingons – or possibly a Klingon ship flown by the Romulans – in battle.
  • Constitution-class vessels are prominently featured in fan film productions like Star Trek: Phase II, Starship Exeter, Starship Farragut, and Of Gods and Men.
  • The refit version of the Constitution class was still in service in 2409 as a cruiser in the video game Star Trek Online (though the TOS configuration can be purchased into the game as well). The class has also inspired three 24th/25th century successors: the Excalibur, Vesper, and Exeter classes. The TOS configuration comes with Retrofit Fore and Aft Phasers, which are the TV-correct blue phasers. The Exeter class, which is also bought, come with the ability to fire photon torpedoes which can hunt down cloaked targets.

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