I grew up believing the Enterprise is a Constitution-class ship. I later learned differently and recently wrote The Enterprise is not a Constitution-class ship.
Many people really did not like that. Within 24 hours, the article generated lots of comments on social media, not all of them kind, and a bunch of hits on this site. (The traffic and the comments surpassed the previous champ, my piece on Harlan Ellison’s drug-dealing crewmember, in less than a week.)
Here’s the thing: we discuss this stuff because we love Star Trek, and I respect that, and anyone can disagree with me. I’m just this guy.
But if you hold fast to the idea the Enterprise is a Constitution-class ship, you are also disagreeing with Gene Roddenberry and Matt Jefferies.
Gene Roddenberry created what’s typically called a “bible” for his show. The Writers/Directors Guide was a briefing document for people who were not part of the ongoing production and therefore needed basic information on the show. On page 7, Roddenberry and his staff wrote: The U.S.S. Enterprise is a spaceship, official designation “starship class.”
My copy is of the third revision, dated April 17, 1967. The date is important. This is almost two years after filming Where No Man Has Gone Before. It has been suggested that the dedication plaque, which states the Enterprise is a Starship-class vessel and which forms the basis of my argument, was a leftover from the pilot days that no one could be bothered to replace. This document makes it clear that is not the case.
The Making of Star Trek, first published in 1968 and written by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry, also could not be clearer on this point.
The Enterprise is a member of the Starship Class (there are twelve of them) Registry Number NCC-1701. Starship Class vessels are the largest and most powerful man-made ships in space.
You can disagree with me. I don’t think you can disagree with Gene Roddenberry.
Walter Matthew Jefferies designed the Enterprise. The Making of Star Trek includes Jefferies’ renderings of the Enterprise, the bridge, the hangar deck, the shuttlecraft and the Klingon battle cruiser.
The Enterprise, depicted on page 178, is labelled “Space cruiser. Starship class.”
You can disagree with me. I don’t think you can disagree with Matt Jefferies.
If you haven’t done so, please read my first piece on this. I know a lot of people don’t like to hear it, but the reality is the Enterprise is a Starship-class ship.
I appreciate everyone who took the time to engage with me on this. Special thanks to Robert J. Sawyer and Pierre Charles Dubreuil who pointed me to the Jefferies drawing and the show bible, respectively.
Captain Pike assigned one crew member to do nothing but stand beside the turbolift. He is there in every bridge scene in The Cage, so I have no idea if the plaque was on the set in 1964.
Update: Trek fan Karl Tate pointed out that guy moves off the wall in one scene and you can see the space beside the turbolift — and there was no dedication plaque on Pike’s Enterprise.