Star Trek’s Original Name For The Enterprise Explained


The USS Enterprise is the iconic Star Trek starship, but Gene Roddenberry originally intended to call it by another name. Launched in 2245, the USS Enterprise became the flagship of the Federation. Originally captained by Robert April, and subsequently by Christopher Pike and then James T. Kirk himself, the Enterprise remained central to the Federation for generations – and it lies at the heart of the entire Star Trek franchise. It’s hard to imagine Star Trek without the Enterprise, but in reality, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry originally wanted to give the ship another name.


Roddenberry originally planned to call the ship the USS Yorktown, reflecting his historical and literary interests. The Battle of Yorktown was one of the most important conflicts in the American War of Independence, a decisive victory for the American Continental Army troops and their allies in the French Army; it led directly to Britain negotiating an end to the conflict. A USS aircraft carrier bore the name Yorktown during the Second World War, and Roddenberry initially wanted to honor that tradition. The Yorktown was the same class of aircraft carrier as another, more famous vessel from that period; the Enterprise. Roddenberry eventually went for this name instead.

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The Yorktown Has Still Had A Massive Presence On Star Trek

Starfleet’s vast armada of ships has often included iterations of the Yorktown, however. One appeared in the original series, with the NCC-1717 USS Yorktown meeting up with the Enterprise in one episode. Another Yorktown appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation, with a registration number NCC-61137; it appeared in a handful of episodes, but never played a decisive role. Star Trek: Beyond took its Yorktown references one step further, however, introducing Starbase Yorktown – a massive Federation starbase. This is set in Star Trek‘s Kelvin timeline, meaning it’s possible the various USS Yorktowns never existed in this timeline, with the name used for the starbase instead.

The Enterprise Almost Became The Yorktown In The Voyage Home (Sort Of)

A new version of the USS Enterprise was constructed in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and Roddenberry again considered tying it to the Yorktown. In his view, it would have been impossible for the Federation to construct a new starship from scratch at such speed, and they must therefore have simply renamed another ship that was already under construction. He suggested the Federation had been building a new Yorktown, and the name was switched at the last second. There have actually been nods to this idea in canon, but it’s never been officially confirmed the Yorktown was the ship renamed by the Federation.

Star Trek: Discovery has broken with tradition; although there is still a USS Enterprise in the 32nd century, the flagship is the USS Voyager-J. Hopefully, there will still be a USS Yorktown in that time, though, continuing a different Star Trek tradition into the far future. Star Trek: Discovery has been renewed for a fifth season, so viewers won’t have to wait long to find out if Gene Roddenberry’s original Enterprise name still has a presence in the franchise.

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