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The USS Essex (NCC-173) was a 22nd century Federation Daedalus-class starship operated by Starfleet. In 2167, the Essex was commanded by Captain Bryce Shumar, the first officer was Commander Steven Mullen, and the security officer was Lieutenant Morgan Kelly. The Essex operated out of Starbase 12, under the sector command of Admiral Uttan Narsu. It carried a crew of 229.
In 2167, the Essex was destroyed with all hands aboard by an electromagnetic storm in the atmosphere of an M-class moon of Mab-Bu VI. The ship became trapped in the storm when non-corporeal criminals from Ux-Mal, who had been imprisoned on the moon centuries before, attempted to escape by possessing the Essex crew.
In 2368, the USS Enterprise-D detected the distress signal of the Essex, over two hundred years old, and investigated the moon. The criminals impersonated the crew of the Essex and attempted to take over the Enterprise, but were unsuccessful. (TNG: "Power Play")
|USS Essex • USS Horizon|
It should be noted that the appearance of Essex had not been established in canon. However, production staff fans, most notably Doug Drexler, Greg Jein, and Michael Okuda (in his Star Trek Chronology and Star Trek Encyclopedia reference works in particular) have vigorously championed the appearance of the Daedalus-class – to which Essex was established to belong in "Power Play" – as derived from a 1964 USS Enterprise early design concept by Star Trek: The Original Series Art Director Matt Jefferies. Jein, on his own volition, constructed an Essex reference model for Okuda to photograph and photoshop, and who had it prominently featured in his works. wbm As the official franchise has as of 2002 deemed the contents of Okuda's two works as "quasi-canon" (thereby becoming the only ones they consider as such from then on), it follows that the Daedalus-class appearance has attained this status as well. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 11, p. 71)
Okuda had the model, upon delivery by Jein, originally labeled USS Horizon (NCC-176) for its entry in the Chronology, before relabeling it as USS Essex, but felt no need to change its registry as he was aware that it would not be discernible in the small black and white pictures. Therefore the model was incorrectly labeled in the first 1994 edition of the Encyclopedia, though he had the ship endowed with the intended "NCC-173" registry, in both the individual entry (p. 94), as well as in his starship list (p. 320). Okuda has not corrected this for subsequent editions of the Chronology/Encyclopedia, when he took new color photographs of the model, but by careful angling and lighting, the registry for Essex has remained obscured.
For further information on the model, see Daedalus-class model.
The name Essex might be derived from any one of several sources, though the reference book The Making of Star Trek, pages 164-165, made it very clear that Original Series producers D.C. Fontana and Robert Justman had the World War II aircraft carrier USS Essex (CV-9, class-vessel) in mind when they came up with their name list in the summer of 1967 as possible candidates for what they, at the time, still called the Starship-class. In effect, an USS Essex nearly made the cut initially, as it was already referenced to in first script draft dialogue treatment, dated 30 September 1967, page 64, for the second season episode "Journey to Babel", which contained a line having Lieutenant Uhura state,
- "Star Fleet Command confirms alien attack on the other starships, Sir. The enemy was defeated. Starships Essex and Eagle suffered heavy damage, but will make base."
For more information, see this page for a list of additional possible name origins.
The Essex received a mention in the Pocket ENT novel Kobayashi Maru, as being one of the starships sent to help repair Columbia NX-02 after its encounter with three Romulan-controlled Klingon warships over Draylax.