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USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)

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The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), a Constitution class starship
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The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), a Constitution class starship

In the fictional universe of Star Trek, the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701 was a Constitution class starship that was commissioned in 2245. (This date, long considered conjectural, was confirmed in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly Part II" when it appeared in an on-screen display aboard the U.S.S. Defiant detailing the future career of Captain Jonathan Archer, who attends the launch of the NCC-1701, one day before his death.)

During the 1966-1969 run of the show, the ship's dedication plaque listed it as Starship class. However, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode ("Relics") later revealed that the ship was officially designated a Constitution class starship. The registry number (1701) of the ship was chosen to be easily visible at a glance by television viewers. "NCC" was chosen by analogy to modern civil aircraft identification codes.

The NCC-1701 was the ship in the original NBC TV series Star Trek, which chronicled the vessel's most famous assignment, a five-year mission of exploration and dipomacy under Captain James T. Kirk's command.

The first officially known commanding officer of the Enterprise was Christopher Pike, who served as captain for more than a decade prior to Kirk's fabled voyages. Star Trek: The Animated Series revealed a previous captain, Robert April, however as TAS was not considered canon by Gene Roddenberry or Paramount Pictures, owners of the Trek franchise, April's tenure as captain remains a matter of fanon, not canon, until a future live-action film or TV series establishes otherwise.

Following Kirk's five-year mission, as explained in the 1979 movie Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Enterprise was out of service for two-and-a-half-years, undergoing an extensive rebuild and upgrade while in dry-dock orbiting Earth under the command of Willard Decker. When it was recalled to service prematurely in order to deal with the V'ger threat, Kirk, now an admiral, took command of the vessel from Decker who subsequently disappeared with V'ger.

It is a commonly held belief among fans that, following the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Admiral Kirk commanded a second mission (possibly for another five years), and a number of novels and reference works have assumed this. However, official canon has never indicated that a second mission occurred. All that is known is approximately 5-9 years after the V'ger incident, the Enterprise was under the command of Captain Spock and being used as a training vessel.

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Khan Noonien Singh stole the USS Reliant and used her to disable the Enterprise. Kirk, who once again took command of the NCC-1701 at the urging of Spock, employed a strategy to equally disable the Reliant. Khan planned to use a weapon called Genesis to destroy the Reliant and the Enterprise, but the Enterprise and her crew were able to survive, partly due to the self-sacrifice of Mr. Spock. The vessel, heavily damaged and with a skeleton crew, limped back to Earth.

In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, which immediately followed Khan, Starfleet decided to scrap the ship, thinking that the age of the ship wouldn't make a repair worthwhile. (There is a continuity error involved in this decision; see Trivia, below.) Nevertheless, the command crew stole the ship and took it to the Genesis planet, to bring Spock's body back to Vulcan. At the Genesis planet, the Enterprise was attacked by a Klingon vessel under the command of Captain Kruge. Despite being able to inflict some damage on the Klingons, the control systems of the Enterprise began to fail, and a torpedo from the Klingons disabled the ship completely. Faced with being captured by a Klingon boarding party or being killed, Kirk, Chekov, and Scott set the ship to auto destruct. The primary hull was blown apart, and the secondary hull fell into the Genesis planet's atmosphere and was incinerated, taking with it all of the Klingons except for Kruge and one officer.

Following the destruction of the NCC-1701, Kirk and his officers were instrumental in saving Earth from a mysterious probe (as chronicled in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home). As a reward, Kirk (who was demoted to captain as punishment for disobeying orders and taking the NCC-1701 to the Genesis Planet) was given command of a new USS Enterprise, a virtually identical (from the outside) vessel with the registry number NCC-1701-A. This began a long tradition of continuing the NCC-1701 registry number through successive generations of Enterprise which in some timelines continues until at least the 26th century (see Starship Enterprise).

Trivia

  • The NCC-1701 may or may not have had a bowling alley for the recreational use of its crew. Such a feature is mentioned by Lt. Riley in the first season episode "The Naked Time" though it's hard to tell if this was intended a joke since Riley was under the influence of an alien virus at the time. In the 1970s, an officially licenced set of blueprints based upon the NCC-1701 were published and a bowling alley was indeed included on the plans. Whether this makes the bowling alley canonical or not is a matter of debate.
  • The age of the vessel at the time of its destruction has never been firmly established, although there have been some non-canon and semi-canon conjectures. The only on-screen reference to the age of the ship occurs on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock just prior to its destruction when the ship is said to be 20 years old which is given as Starfleet's rationale for scrapping the vessel. This, however, is clearly erroneous since the film takes place roughly 16 years after the events of the original series episode "Space Seed", and it is known that Christopher Pike commanded the vessel for at least a decade prior to Kirk taking command. And this doesn't even take into account the conjectured command of Robert April. It can be safely speculated that the age of the NCC-1701 at the time of its destruction was closer to 30 years, if not more.

External links

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