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|Decks= 23, 24, 26 or 29(see physical arrangement + physical studio model Paragragh)
|Decks= 23, 24, 26 or 29(see physical arrangement + physical studio model Paragragh)
|Speed= Warp 9.975+
|Armament= 12 [[phaser array]]s, 16 [[phaser array]]s after refit in 2375 <br/>1 forward [[quantum torpedo]] launcher <br/>3 forward [[photon torpedo]] launchers <br/>6 aft [[photon torpedo]] launchers
|Armament= 12 [[phaser array]]s, 16 [[phaser array]]s after refit in 2375 <br/>1 forward [[quantum torpedo]] launcher <br/>3 forward [[photon torpedo]] launchers <br/>6 aft [[photon torpedo]] launchers

Revision as of 12:16, December 11, 2010

The Sovereign-class starship was introduced in the late 24th century, showcasing some of Starfleet's most recent technological advances.


USS Enterprise-E in drydock 2

The Enterprise in drydock over Earth in 2379

The Sovereign-class was introduced during the early 2370s, and was, at the time, the most advanced starship design in the fleet. The Sovereign-class USS Enterprise-E was built at the San Francisco Fleet Yards and was launched from that facility on stardate 49827.5. (Star Trek: First Contact dedication plaque)

USS Enterprise-E engages Borg at 001

The Enterprise firing at the Borg cube at the Battle of Sector 001

The Sovereign class' first major engagements came in 2373, when the USS Enterprise saw action in the Borg incursion into Sector 001, and was instrumental in the destruction of the attacking cube. (Star Trek: First Contact)

While the Sovereign-class was not a key player in the Dominion War, such vessels as the Enterprise-E spent time during the war putting out diplomatic "brush fires" and extending the occasional olive branch, as the Federation Diplomatic Corps were busy attempting to put an end to the war. (Star Trek: Insurrection)

Sometime after the Enterprise's mission in the Briar Patch and before the engagement with the Reman warship Scimitar, a refitting of the Enterprise-E took place. The major changes included 5 additional torpedo tubes and 4 additional phaser arrays. A slight change in the warp nacelle pylons was also implemented. The Enterprise was able to deploy these new systems in 2379, prior to its mission to Romulus. (Star Trek Nemesis)

Technical data

Physical arrangement

USS Enterprise-E at warp

Dorsal overview

Nearly seven hundred meters in length, the design of the Sovereign-class consisted of two hull sections: a saucer-shaped primary hull and a secondary hull which mounted two warp nacelles. (Star Trek: First Contact)

Rick Sternbach unambiguously mapped 23 decks to the Enterprise exterior in his construction blueprints for the ten-foot miniature, which were reproduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies. The ship is stated, by Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: First Contact, as having 24 decks. In the same film, however, Lieutenant Daniels refers to a deck 26. Likewise, Lieutenant Commanders Data and Worf both refer to deck 29 in Star Trek Nemesis. The Sovereign-class MSD, seen in both films, shows 23 or 24 decks (depending on the interpretation of the lowest deck space).

Tactical systems

Deflector status display, Sovereign class

Deflector shields on display

The Sovereign-class starship had several weaponry enhancements over previous starship classes, including quantum torpedoes as well as photon torpedoes, and numerous phaser banks and arrays.

The Sovereign-class originally employed twelve phaser arrays at key locations throughout the ship's hull. Seven dorsal phaser arrays were located on the primary hull, one extending around the saucer section, giving it an oval appearance. Six smaller arrays covered the aft dorsal firing arcs and were located along the aft portion of the saucer section, above the main shuttlebay.

Four ventral phaser arrays were located on the primary hull, extending around in nearly a half circle on both the starboard and port ventral sides of the saucer section. A single phaser array was located along the ventral section of the engineering hull, running perpendicular to the hull. (Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection) During the refit, four were added to the trailing edges of the warp nacelle pylons (one dorsal and one ventral for each pylon) bringing the phaser array count to sixteen. (Star Trek Nemesis)

In her original configuration, the Sovereign-class mounted five torpedo launchers. The "main" launcher was located on the ventral portion of the saucer on a turret and was supplemented by one twin-tube launcher, forward and aft at the bottom of the secondary hull. The refit saw the addition of five more tubes: three on the dorsal saucer section (a single tube facing forward on Deck 3 and a twin-tube launcher facing aft [located above the aft saucer airlock]) as well as two on the secondary hull, both facing aft – one above and one below the secondary hull shuttlebay. (Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek Nemesis)

Interior design


File:Sovereign class master systems display.png

In terms of deck layout, the upper sections of the Sovereign-class starship formed the command section and living areas, while the lower decks housed main engineering and fuel supplies.

As is traditional, deck numbering ascended from top to bottom. At the top of the saucer section was Deck 1, which housed the main bridge. This deck also held the more recent modifications of an observation lounge, a ready room for the ship's captain, and an airlock with attached cabin.

Deck 2 encompassed the first of the many levels of crew quarters, with rooms for the highest-ranking command staff and an officer's mess hall. Decks 3 through 9 featured more officers' quarters, the forward and aft viewing lounges, science labs, the main shuttlebay, conduits for the optical data network, and the vessel's main computer core.

Decks 10 through 14 completed the primary hull of the Sovereign-class starship, and also encompassed forward and aft cargo bays on Decks 10 and 11, and phaser systems on Deck 11. Sensors and the secondary navigational deflector were found on Deck 12.

Deck 13, which was taken up almost entirely by deuterium fuel tanks, marked the real split between the habitable areas and the engineering and ship's storage sections. Main engineering and its related systems – such as the EPS power tabs, the central matter/antimatter reaction chamber, support labs, and the engineering computer core – were spread over Decks 14 through 18.

Deck 14 was largely dedicated to engineering systems, and also featured the lower sensor platform. Decks 15 through 18 comprised the main navigational deflector array and an auxiliary bridge, which was also known as the battle bridge.

Deck 16 also featured the launch and retrieval mechanism for the captain's yacht. The yacht was lowered by a set of gantries until its engines extended to operational position and then it would be free to maneuver. (Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek Nemesis)

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Command and control systems

The computer system on board the Sovereign-class were bio-neural gel pack based. Computer systems were concentrated in two computer cores. The primary core was located directly below the main bridge on Decks 6 through 8. The secondary core was located in the engineering section, adjacent to environmental control, on Decks 15 through 17.

Sovereign Bridge2

Main bridge of a Sovereign-class starship

Primary operational control of the ship was provided by the main bridge, located at the top of the primary hull. The bridge directly supervised all primary mission operations and coordinated all departmental activities.

The central area of the main bridge provided seating and information displays for the captain and two other officers. The captain's chair was raised from the rest of the bridge officers to the height of the surrounding level, which included tactical and operations. The two officer seats were equipped with fully programmable consoles for a variety of uses.

Directly fore of the command area was the conn officer, who faced the main viewer. To the port side of the conn officer, also facing the main viewscreen, was the operations officer's console, which was identical in size and design to the helm station.

Sovereign Viewscreen

The Conn and Ops stations in front of the viewscreen

At the very front of the bridge chamber was a large viewscreen. When the screen was not active, a standard bulkhead was present.

Aft and to the left of the command area was an elevated platform on which tactical and security consoles were located. To the captain's right, behind the tactical console, was the mission operations section of the bridge. Against the starboard side walls of the main bridge were the consoles for sciences, along with others that were programmable for a multitude of functions.

File:Sovereign Observation Lounge.jpg

Located against the aft wall of the bridge was a large master systems display monitor, similar to the one in engineering. All relevant ship information (such as damage, power distribution, etc.) could be displayed on this cutaway image of the vessel. This monitor could be used to direct ship operations and could be configured for limited flight control if necessary.

Also located against the aft wall of the main bridge was the large engineering console. This had a smaller cutaway diagram of the vessel, which displayed all engineering-relevant data and showed warp fields and engine output.

There were two turbolifts on the bridge. There was also an emergency ladder that connected the bridge to lower decks. Additionally, the bridge provided direct access to the observation lounge, which was located directly aft of the bridge, and the captain's ready room. (Star Trek: First Contact)

Ready room

Sovereign Ready Room

The ready room

The captain's ready room doubled as an office and a second private cabin in addition to the commanding officer's private quarters. It was located off the starboard side of the main bridge on Deck 1, and provided a place where the captain could work or rest while remaining next to the bridge in case of an emergency. Meetings between the captain and one or two people would also take place here.

In one corner there was a simple, narrow bed with a small bookcase over it. Toward the rear of the room was a desk with a computer console.

In a corner behind the desk was a doorway which led into a bathroom containing a sonic shower. Below a mirror was a sink that had no visible controls; the water came on automatically when hands were placed beneath the faucet, and went off when they were withdrawn.

Usually, the ready room would be decorated by its occupant by adding a number of personal ornaments.

Propulsion systems

USS Enterprise-E at impulse

The Enterprise-E cruises at impulse speeds

Sovereign Coils

The Enterprise-E being refitted in Drydock

Sovereign-class starships achieved warp flight through two warp nacelles, which housed multiple pairs of warp coils; its maximum speed was warp factor 9.975+. (Star Trek Nemesis)

There were two impulse engines, both located at the aft of the saucer section. (Star Trek: First Contact)

Main engineering contained the controls for the warp and impulse drive systems. Entrance to the primary engineering spaces was provided by two large blast doors, a pair each deck on Decks 15 and 16, that could be closed for internal or external security reasons, as well as in case of emergencies. It was much larger than on previous starship classes and was split into three levels to accommodate the warp core, which spanned several decks.

The majority of controls were situated on the main deck (Deck 16) and an upper level gantry. Arranged around the warp core stack were a number of control consoles that could be reconfigured to emulate all the command controls on the bridge.

The largest work station was the master systems display, which was used to monitor the status of all key systems and could comfortably accommodate four personnel. There were also various wall displays, including a schematic that showed the 'health' of the warp propulsion system.

The deuterium tanks were above the core, while antimatter storage pods surrounded the base of the core. Two large cylindrical tanks were positioned next to the warp core and contained highly dangerous plasma coolant. Two rectangular power transfer conduits fed off from the warp reaction chamber and angle out of main engineering to the port and starboard warp nacelles.(Star Trek: Insurrection)

Sovereign Warp Core

The Sovereign's warp core

Sovereign Engineering

The main engineering facility

Additionally, there were numerous ladders and access panels to Jefferies tubes, leading throughout the starship. A second tier ringed the second level of main engineering on Deck 15. Two ladders on the opposite ends of the catwalk provided access. (Star Trek: First Contact) By 2379, Starfleet began implementing a force field system around the warp reactor. (Star Trek Nemesis)

It is unknown at this time exactly what role the reactor core force field played in protecting the ship. During its only shown use, the force field was disabled in battle mere minutes after it was activated. How this helps the ship is a mystery due to the lack of a force field around the reaction chamber. However, this could possibly be to protect it when the engineering crew fights intruders.
A similar tactic was employed in VOY: "Day of Honor" by B'Elanna Torres when she had a level 10 force field surround USS Voyager's main engineering right before she ejected the warp core. It may also help contain a warp core breach and stop, or slow it, from spreading.
USS Enterprise-E warp core ejection

Enterprise-E's ejected warpcore

The Sovereign-class was equipped with a warp core ejection system. Normally used as a last resort measure when a warp core breach is in progress, in 2375 the Enterprise-E used the capability in order to seal a subspace rift, caused by the Son'a by remote detonating the ejected core. (Star Trek: Insurrection)

A detailed exterior ejection sequence was designed by John Eaves for the scene. But to his disappointment only a an very short shot was actually seen on screen.[1]

Transporter systems

Enterprise-E transporter

The back wall of a Sovereign-class transporter

The Sovereign-class starship included at least four separate transporter rooms, capable of site-to-site transport. (Star Trek Nemesis) Unusually, the transporter console in a Sovereign-class transporter room was built into a wall opposite the transporter platform, from where the controls on the console could be seen. (Star Trek: Insurrection) The transporters could be operated from both the tactical and engineering stations on the ship's bridge. A Sovereign-class starship was capable of beaming a single small vessel - such as a Template:ShipClass attack fighter - aboard, even if the smaller craft was mobile. (Star Trek Nemesis)

A Sovereign-class transporter room made only a brief appearance in Star Trek: Insurrection. Its omission from Star Trek: First Contact was the first time in the Star Trek film series that the transporter room did not appear.

Crew support systems

The Sovereign-class starship had the usual array of amenities available to the crew, including holodecks, gymnasiums, a ship's library, etc.

It seems that Sovereign-class starships do not have the extensive provisions for civilian personnel that her Galaxy-class predecessors were designed with, as we have yet to see any civilians on board. Married personnel, however, are permitted to share quarters. (Star Trek Nemesis)

Medical facilities

EMH in Enterprise-E sickbay

The secondary Sovereign class sickbay, including the ship's EMH

Sovereign Sickbay

The main Sovereign-class sickbay

One large sickbay facility, located on Deck 7, served as the primary care facility on Sovereign-class starships. Equipped with six standard and one advanced biobed and an EMH (emergency medical hologram), sickbay was also home to the Chief Medical Officer's office and a small lab used for routine analysis of patients.

A second, smaller facility identical to an Intrepid-class sickbay was also present on Deck 16. This facility also featured an EMH. (Star Trek: First Contact)

The room itself was considered to be general-purpose, often the location of regular crew physicals, appointments, and various medical emergencies - it could effectively handle the majority of situations that a starship crew would face. (Star Trek: First Contact)

Located near sickbay was the counselor's office, a modest room approximately the size of a standard living room compartment. (Star Trek: Insurrection)

Crew quarters

Sovereign Crew Quarters

Senior officers' quarters

Sovereign Crew Quarters bedroom

Officers' quarters bedroom

The arrangement of living quarters was designed to be modular, so that at any time a particular area could be reconfigured to create larger or smaller residential areas. Most living areas were located on the upper and lower surfaces of the saucer section, offering residents a remarkable view of the starscape outside their windows.

As is common on Starfleet vessels, the living accommodations for senior officers and VIPs were larger than standard crew quarters. Officers' quarters usually included a living area in the center of the dwelling, which held a personal workstation, couch, replicator and a small dining area.

Connected to this was a bedroom that featured a double-sized bed and room for personal belongings. Normally, the bedroom would be connected by a half-bathroom with wash basin, mirror, toilet, several drawers and a sonic shower. For senior staff, this bathroom was usually upgraded to a full-sized bathroom with bathtub. (Star Trek: Insurrection)

Auxilary spacecraft systems

Located at the dorsal stern of the primary hull, the main shuttlebay took up a significant portion of the aft section of Decks 6 through 9 on the Sovereign-class. Due to the mission profile of the Sovereign, the shuttlebay extended further than normal for a vessel its size to accommodate runabouts and several shuttlecraft.

The secondary shuttlebay was located at the very aft portion of the engineering hull. This bay, while smaller than the main facility, was just as capable of handling flight operations as the main shuttlebay. (Star Trek: First Contact)

In addition to shuttlecraft, the Sovereign class also featured a captain's yacht, designed for special diplomatic missions. The yacht on board the Enterprise-E was named the Cousteau. (Star Trek: Insurrection)

Escape pods

The Sovereign-class starship carried a number of escape pods. In the event of a catastrophic emergency, these pods served the same purpose as the lifeboats of a water-based vessel and ensured the continued survival of passengers and crew after the primary vessel had to be abandoned.

The escape pods were located throughout the Sovereign-class starship's primary and secondary hulls: there were two rows of pods on the dorsal side of the command saucer, and two on the ventral side. Further rows of pods lined each side of the engineering hull.

Unlike the escape pods utilized on the Galaxy- and Intrepid-class, (VOY: "Year of Hell") there was no outer hatch that opened for launch. Instead, the heat shield of the escape pod lay flush with the Sovereign-class ship's outer hull. Personnel entered the pods through hatches that lined sections of the ship's corridors, and a situation display monitor was located between the pods.

Each hatch swung open on a hinge at the bottom, creating a short ramp from the floor of the corridor into the interior of the capsule. The pods were equipped with heat shields for atmospheric entry and landing if a suitable planet could be found to set down on. (Star Trek: First Contact)

Ships commissioned




In production notes for Star Trek: First Contact, Michael Okuda suggested that the prototype for the Sovereign-class was the USS Sovereign and would have had a registry in a range around NX/NCC-75000. The Sovereign was also mentioned briefly in the Star Trek Encyclopedia, but the vessel itself has not been seen on screen to date.

The official cutaway poster of the vessel that was released for First Contact designates the ship as an "Explorer Type 2".

It appears that the Sovereign-class has at least two sickbay facilities, given sources in Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek Nemesis that indicate sickbays on Decks 8 and 16. The Sovereign-class is not the first class of vessel to have several sickbays; for example, Beverly Crusher was seen evacuating a sickbay in the engineering hull of the USS Enterprise-D in Star Trek Generations, as well as being treated in the engineering hull sickbay herself in "The Arsenal of Freedom"

Studio models

Surprisingly the Sovereign-class (in the form of the Enterprise-E) had more make-overs than its limited number of appearances should have justified. Apart from a physical studio model no less than four CGI models were constructed of this class.


The Sovereign-class starship was designed by John Eaves under final supervision of Herman Zimmerman. While working in the art department of DS9 in August 1995, Zimmermann stopped by Eaves' office and told him, "We're going to start work on a new movie soon. I havent got a script yet, but we're going to need a new Enterprise. I need some sketches as soon as you can." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 11, page 43) Starting designing from his own perspective that the new ship should have a sleek appearance, Eaves was stymied enough at first to pay a visit to Rick Sternbach who had just finished designing the Template:ShipClass. "It was really funny to see how similar the two ships were, in the rough sketches. We thought, 'Wow, this is a nice direction to go-the new Federation design, from Voyager to the Enterprise-E.' I finally asked Rick, 'What does it take to get one of these ships approved? What are the steps? I know design has a lot to do with it, but what other particulars do I need to know?' Well, Rick reached into his desk, pulled out a huge file and threw it atop his desk. It was about two hundred drawings thick! 'This,' he said, 'is what it took get the Voyager approved.' And he opened up the file and showed me sketch after beautiful sketch, each with subtle changes, so that I could see how the shape began, the evolved into the final product. On top of it all, he'd made a little booklet that included the breakdown: all the decks, what the ship could do, how it did what it did. He even had a scale chart comparing the Voyagers's size to other Federation starships. Thanks to Rick's help, I made myself a similar packet for the Enterprise-E," Eaves remembers. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies, page 86-87)

Imbued with confidence Eaves started to work on his design from the elongated shape of the Template:ShipClass he had come up with. Not really liking the shape of the Galaxy-class and wanting it to look sleek, looking good from all angles, he was working towards a design that was evoking memories of Matt Jefferies's classic design. A major part of it was the length of the warp nacelles, "We decided this was a different engine type-faster, yet longer lived-and the longer length of the engines helped to create the desired sleekness." (Cinefex, No.69, page 105) Dozens of sketches later, in a process reminiscent of what Jefferies had to go through when he designed the original Enterprise, a final sketch was arrived at in January 1996 which the producers approved.

Such was Eaves' diligence (he experimented with swept forward nacelles, saucer separation and various nacelle lengths as well as alternative designs), that when he was asked after approval to come up with alternative designs, because the producers wanted to be sure they had chosen the right design (and had also an early draft mention of an USS Endeavour in mind), he was able to do so. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 11, pages 46-50)

The physical studio model

Based on Eaves' sketches, Rick Sternbach drew up detailed blueprints of the model (establishing that the Enterprise-E had 23 decks), which were sent over to Industrial Light & Magic. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies, pages 104-105)

Building the model fell to model supervisor John Goodson and his team, amongst others Kim Smith and Jon Foreman with Ed Miarecki doing pattern work on the model. Eaves kept some of the closest details vague in order to allow the "ILM"-staffers to use their own imagination. Detailed questioning however, especially concerning the mounting of the warp nacelles kept Eaves busy making detailed drawings well into spring 1996. In the end Zimmerman requested that Eaves had a small 30 inch study model made for reference sake. Another noticeable vagueness Eaves included was the the exact function of the lighted bulge on the underside of the the saucer. Carried over to the Sternbach's blueprints were it was vaguely mentioned as "Turret location area" and to Drexler's MSD, there identified as forward torpedo launchers (Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies, pages 106 and 97). It was during the to-and-fro sessions with ILM that the turret would end up as the docking port of the captain's yacht and as such it was constructed on the studio model.

Told that the model had to last the rigors of shooting for at least a couple of movies, Goodson built the model to last. As he commented, "So we built it to last. In fact it was seriously overbuilt, with four five-inch-long bolts attaching the saucer to the main body." (Cinefex, No.69, page 105) With an armature rigged for eight mounting points, electrical plugs were installed for swift changes. "When Kim saw how close the camera would be getting to the model, she realized that even the tiniest bit of overspray would register like a field of boulders on screen. So we had six people working on the paint job, covering sections with masking tape, trying to get it done as quickly as possible," Goodson further remembers.

Lighting the model was a separate story; Not since Douglas Trumbull had the original Enterprise rigged to emulate self-illumination, had this been done on her successors, nor would it on this one. Again smart exterior lighting from outside would mimic the illusion of self-illumination. Enhancing the effects were the application of small back-lit miniatures still shots of interior sets pasted behind the windows of the model. Not being able to use this technique in the previous movie, Goodson decided to go for it this time around, "We cut sixteen-inch frames for each window, bending them to fit the curve of the hull before gluing and sanding them flush. A laser-cut plex window lens went in, backed with peel-off paper facing outward. Then, behind the plex we mounted quarter-inch-thick acrylic blocks with photographic slides and diffusion glued unto them. The internal illumination fit right behind this, giving us a little neon lightbox. After the model was painted, the paper covering the windows was peeled away, revealing backlit images of actual sets, provided by Paramount." (Cinefex, No.69, page 105) For the larger windows on the saucer this gadget was not deemed sufficient enough. Extreme miniature sets as backdrop were constructed for these. "We filled that area of the model with tiny, micro-scale furniture, including tables and chairs," Goodson further elaborates. An arboretum, intended to be reminiscent of the refit-Enterprise was also included in the back of the saucer.

Goodson's assurances notwithstanding, the physical model, measuring 119 x 49 x 13 inches, was to be used for filming purposes only once, only to appear in Star Trek: First Contact. For Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek Nemesis, the model was sent over to the respective SFX-houses for mapping and digitizing but nothing more. In the end the model, known as Lot #107, being part of the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction, estimated at $8,000-$12,000, was eventually sold on 5 October 2006 with a winning bid of US$100,000 (US$120,000 including buyer's premium). The buyer put the model up on sale immediately afterwards.[2]

Enterprise E plows into the Scimitar

The saucer section plows into the Scimitar

File:Enterprise E saucer in Regeneration.jpg

An enlarged saucer section was built for the ramming sequence in Star Trek: Nemesis. The visual effects supervisors at Digital Domain felt that the close-up scene could only be believably conveyed on screen by physical miniatures so a 1/45 scale saucer section of the Enterprise-E was built as well as a section of the bow of the Scimitar. The 18 feet long saucer was essentially an empty shelled framework covered with sprayed-on polyester bondo with a laminate aluminum foil skin patchwork underneath. The whole was covered with a thin skin of lead, chosen because the soft metal would ripple and bend back on impact. The leading section of the saucer was equipped with an underlying matrix of cardboard compartments, both intended to increase resistance of the lead on impact as well as to show, after retouching, the exposed decks of the ship as she pulls back from the impact with the Scimitar. The model, built by amongst others Michael Morgan, Ted van Dorn and supervisor George Stevens, took six weeks to build and weighed 500 pounds. The model was filled with loose materials that would spill out upon impact to represent debris. The sequence was shot with a highspeed camera and in post-production digitally enhanced by adding and removing elements as well as adding the backend of the Enterprise.(Cinefex, No.93, pages 107-109) 3D Integration Artist Chris Dawson remembered,"The front end of both ships were constructed in large scale and we had the Ent E race along a track to impact with the Scimitar. The Scimitar is banking. It was all veery fast and we had to get the Ent as fast as we could. All shot at highspeed to help with the look of the damage when both hit. Then the back end of the ship was added with a CG model and alot of debris was added with CG, however, alot that was captured on film was pretty good. We were able to do the sequence three times with replacement/repaired models."[3] One of the saucer sections wound up as borg debris in the debris field in ENT: "Regeneration".

Study model and AMT models

The study model Eaves made as a reference for the ILM modelers also wound up on screen in Star Trek: First Contact as one of the golden models in the display case in the observation lounge."For the "E", I had just finished making a big 28 inch study model for the producers here in LA and for the model guys and gals up at ILM. It was almost too big, but there was no time to sculpt another one so it had to do. Herman asked for 3 of each ship because we were now going to have the smashing of the case scene.", Eaves remembers on his blog.[4] Molds were taken of the model and solid resin casts copies were made (since there were multiple takes of the scene). After smoothing out the surfaces the models (including the study model) were gold plated at ArtCraft Plating. The models were subsequently smashed when the scene was filmed. For Star Trek: Insurrection the procedure was more or less repeated but this time three AMT/Ertl Star Trek model kits (No.6326) were used, solidifying the models by filling them up with resin. They were seen as display models in the observation lounge in Star Trek Nemesis as a script change caused them not to be used in Insurrection.[5]

Eaves and the studio retained most of the models but one of the models has reportedly been sold in an on-line Sotheby's auction in October 2000.[6] The mold taken from the study model was most likely also used to cast a transparent acrylic desk top model which was used in First Contact as set dressing for Picard's ready room. Although the model itself was not seen, its shadow was cast on the wall behind Riker when he discusses Starfleets' orders with Picard in the beginning of the movie. This model was sold in the May 2008 It's A Wrap! sale and auction for $480,00. [7]

The CGI Studio models

For the temporal vortex scene in Star Trek: First Contact the effects team originally intended to use the physical model and composite shots of it with the CG vortex. However it was felt that the CG vortex scene would better interact with a CGI model (much like what ILM had done earlier with the USS Enterprise-B in Star Trek Generations) so a digital version of the Enterprise-E was built by Larry Tan at ILM. Since the vortex effects would obscure much of the details of the ship, the model was built at a fairly low resolution. (Cinefex, No.69, page 110)

For Star Trek: Insurrection, the producers decided to complete the transition into the digital realm and that this would be the first movie completely without the time honored motion control model photography. This meant that the first order of business was to redo the CGI model of the Enterprise-E, since ILM's version was too low res. Digital Muse was one of the companies who made a bid to the model and went even as far as to have a complete model built by David Lombardi[8][9]. Digital Muse lost out on the bid, but shots of the model were used in the teaser trailer for Star Trek Insurrection. (Cinefex, No.77, page 75) The model itself was later featured on the cover of the 2003 Ships of the Line calendar.

Sovereign class CGI model by Santa Barbara Studios

Santa Barbara Studios' CGI model of the Template:ShipClass.

Santa Barbara Studios, the effects house that won the bid for Star Trek Insurrection, was very mindful of task given to them. "ILM actually released their Enterprise database to us, which was very nice of them," effects supervisor John Grower said. "It was very helpful in the beginning, because we had all these animatics to create. However, their Enterprise was a fairly low-resolution model, and while we originally thought, 'Maybe we can just add to this database', that process became more trouble than it was worth, so we had Viewpoint Data Labs come down and actually redigitize the Enterprise using the original miniature." (American Cinematographer, January 1999, page 41) Since there were many models to make in CGI for the movie, it was decided very early on that, due to time restraints, the Enterprise-E would not be modified (though Eaves had modifications in mind). That enabled SBS to subcontract the digitalization of the the Enterprise-E to Viewpoint. Having access to the actual studio model, the model was scanned (which was at the time a time-saving method compared to building the model in CGI from scratch) and turned into a NURB model under the auspices of Jayme Olsen. Their model was then turned over to SBS for detailing, mapping and animation. For this SBS had dozens of close-up photos taken of the actual studio model to be mapped on the CG-model digitally. "We shot countless textures off the ILM miniature for the the CG model, then assign a dedicated team to the ship – an approach we tried to use for other ships in the show when possible," Grower remembers. (Cinefex, No.77, page 72) Bruce Jones and Eric Saindon were amongst the "dedicated" team. Orthographic views of the SBS model were published in Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 11, page 50. Two slight modifications were done by the CG-team of SBS, smoothing out the bottom of the captain's yacht and adding aft torpedo launchers on the lowest aft of the secondary hull (though included in the blueprints and originally intended as tractor beam emitters, it was not on the physical model).

For Star Trek Nemesis, Eaves got the chance to do the modifications he had in mind. "When that model was done, we got to go out and take pictures of it and there were a lot of little areas where I thought, 'If I had to do over, I'd change a couple of things.' Our original design was a very sleek, sweet profile, but when the miniature was completed-even though the work was beautiful and looked great on film-some of that sleekness had not translated over. So when this show came up, and they were going to be making entirely new CG models, I talked to Peter Lauritson and he said, 'Go ahead and make all the chances you want'," Eaves remembers (Cinefex, No.93, page 104). The Enterprise-E was slightly modified to make her look more streamlined like his original design drawings intended. Extensions were added on the rear of the saucer along the inside edge of each impulse engine, which were then blended into the upper secondary hull. The warp engines were raised up by 1.3% and moved forward slightly by 3.5%, to give the ship a sleeker profile when looking at her from the side. The warp engine support pylons were also modified slightly to appear more streamlined. And the forward part of the secondary hull just under the navigational deflector dish was pulled up tighter and curvier to the dish itself.

Since the script had the Enterprise primarily attacked from behind and above, Eaves also had to design aft facing weaponry, which he had not done originally, to justify the fire exchanges. For this he added four phaser strips on the trailing edge of the warp pylons on the dorsal and ventral surfaces, a twin torpedo launcher on the saucer superstructure aft of the bridge, directly above deck 3 and a single launcher on the spine of the ventral surface above the aft shuttlebay.

The CG model (made up of 1.3 million polygons and 65 image maps, gleaned from pictures taken from the physical studio model) was built from scratch at Digital Domain by Jay Barton, using essentially the same methodology as used for the previous movie.[10]


According to designer John Eaves, the length is 2,250 feet (685.8 meters) following the Star Trek Nemesis redesign and 2,248 feet (685.1904 meters) before that:

The two-foot change was just a result of the higher struts and the new nacelle placement. It was a subtle change that showed up when the scale was thrown on the new plans, so 2248 changed to 2250. [11]

Eaves also explained the original size decision for Star Trek: First Contact:

When the "E" had a final approved design, we drew up a chart of all the Enterprises in profile. Herman [Zimmerman] and I set down a whole bunch of cutouts of the "E" in various sizes to see where this new ship should scale with the others. We found one size that looked appropriate and we put a scale to its length and that would be 2248 feet. Rick [Sternbach] was waiting to do the blueprints and add his creativity to the design, so we gave him a drawing with this one measurement. From there he sized the whole ship ... [12]

Official sources have supported the 2,248-foot figure, with the notable exception of Star Trek Encyclopedia which for some reason uses 680 meters.


  • Sovereign-class starships have been mentioned often in novels and games. A role-playing game supplement from Decipher mentions the Sovereign, Yorktown, and Independence.
  • The class's prototype, the USS Sovereign, has appeared or been mentioned in several non-canon sources, such as the novels Spectre, Dark Victory, and The Genesis Wave, Book One, as well as Pocket Books' reference works release Starship Spotter. The Sovereign was also the ship the player commanded in the later portions of the game Star Trek: Bridge Commander.
  • Star Trek: Bridge Commander and Star Trek: Legacy list a likely and widely-accepted registry number for the Sovereign as NX-73811 (later NCC-73811). Other games mentioning Sovereign are the role-playing game supplements The Price of Freedom from Last Unicorn Games and Starships from Decipher. In Star Trek: Legacy there were several Sovereign-class starships seen in the campaign, including the Enterprise, the Sovereign, and the Legacy.
  • In the video game Star Trek: Invasion, two Sovereign-class vessels appeared: the USS Enterprise-E, and the USS Sentinel-B. The Enterprise-E is also the main base of operations in the game Star Trek: Elite Force II.
  • The Sovereign-class is also the most powerful class available to the player in the game Star Trek: Armada, with the variant timeship USS Premonition also including a temporal weapon which allowed the player to pause time in local areas. This ship has never been mentioned anywhere else and due to the events of the game may never have existed (due to changes in the timeline by the player's actions.)
  • In Star Trek: Armada II, one Sovereign-class starship is the Saratoga.
  • Saucer separation capability of the Sovereign-class was something that was neither seen nor mentioned on screen or in the scripts, but John Eaves went ahead and designed a detailed separation anyway. Design sketches were published in Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 11, page 49.
  • In the PC game Star Trek Online, the Sovereign-class starship is available to those with the rank of Rear Admiral.

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