In 1974, Paramount Pictures donated the original filming model of the USS Enterprise used in making the '60s television series, Star Trek, to the National Air and Space Museum. Paramount had never been very fond of the series, and the huge success it would become (motion pictures, spin-off television series, etc.) was still just a twinkle in Gene Roddenberry's eye.

The Enterprise was delivered to the Smithsonian in pretty poor shape. It needed a new paint job, had some cracking that needed to be repaired in the saucer section, the gold colored deflector dish was missing, as were the red domes on the warp nacelles, and the lighting was mostly inoperative.

The model was restored, and put on display in the museum. The restoration cleaned things up, but was hardly accurate in its replacement of the missing pieces. The deflector disk was too big and lacked detail. The warp nacelles were a solid red and had no lighting. No restoration was done to the electrical components at all, and so few of the lights worked. Still, the Enterprise looked pretty much like it did when it was being used for the TV show. In 1984, some more work was done on the model, primarily to fix up the lighting.

In 1991, in preparation for Star Trek's 25th anniversary, the model was completely restored again.

Or should I say, desecrated.

This time, the dish and warp engines were done right, and the lighting was completely restored.
That was about all that was done right.
The restoration crew must have decided that the smooth, clean surface of the Enterprise was too boring, because they first etched grid lines into the surface, and then proceeded to heavily weather the entire model. The model now looks more like one might imagine a studio model to look today, but that's not the point.

This model is a piece of cultural history. It is representative of its time. Now, it looks very little like the model used to shoot the original series. It is almost like repainting the Mona Lisa with a nose-piercing, because, hey, she looks so much cooler that way.

Ok, so the Enterprise isn't on the level of the Mona Lisa. That's an exaggeration. Still, the point is the same. When I go to a museum of history, I want to see things as they were, not the way someone thought they'd look better. Have some respect.

Assigning the name Enterprise to a Starfleet vessel never has boded well for the craft's safety and well-being. While every Enterprise in Starfleet's history has served with honor and distinction, saving worlds and species (humanity included) countless times, the ships themselves have taken a disproportionate amount of the total beatings the universe has to offer up.

NCC-1701 (the original Constitution Class starship named Enterprise)
This ship's (mis)adventures are chronicled by Star Trek: The Original Series and by the first three Star Trek movies (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock). In a nutshell, she is shot at repeatedly, placed into dangerous orbits without a functioning warp drive when her crew goes nuts, and is perilously close to destruction on many occasions. After her original five year mission, she is refitted by Starfleet before being sent to confront V'ger in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The ship's true demise begins in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, where she is mercilessly pounded almost back to the stone age by Khan's Miranda Class starship, the USS Reliant, when Admiral James T. Kirk's lack of quick thinking leaves her with shields down as Khan opens fire with every weapon at his disposal. While the crew of the Enterprise ultimately emerge from the massive battle victorious, the Enterprise herself is left a shell of her former self. Barely able to limp back to Starbase under her own power, she's condemned for decommission by Starfleet Command on her return, only to be stolen again by her command crew to make a desperate attempt to resurrect Captain Spock. She is shot into swiss cheese by a Klingon Bird of Prey in orbit around the Genesis Planet, then set on self-destruct to deal one last blow to Commander Kruge. Her charred and broken frame was last seen on screen soaring as a massive fireball into the planet's atmosphere as her skeleton crew watched helplessly from the planet's surface.

Also a Constitution Class starship, she had very little screen time and was given nearly no chance to serve before her decommissioning. First introduced at the end of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as a "happy ending" of sorts, we are instead shown a shoddily-built, barely working Enterprise in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

"'Let's see what she's got,' says the Captain. Well we sure found out, didn't we?"Captain Montgomery Scott, as he frantically works to bring the ship online in space dock.

The ship is launched before there's even time for a shakedown, and clearly isn't ready for operation, but still gets the job done in its first movie appearance. Fired upon only twice and struck only once by a single disruptor blast from a Klingon Bird of Prey, the only other "stress" endured by the ship in Star Trek V is its journey through the Great Barrier.

The ship fared far worse in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, where she is nearly blown apart in the final climactic battle between the Enterprise and a prototype Bird of Prey that can fire while cloaked. Only the intervention of Captain Hikaru Sulu aboard the USS Excelsior and some quick thinking and work on a custom photon torpedo saves the ship from destruction. Starfleet orders her back to Starbase for decommission after the battle at Khitomer.

While little is known about this ship's service record and ultimate fate, we do know that her maiden voyage too was mired in conflict. Again launched before she was completed (no tractor beams or photon torpedos), This Excelsior Class starship encountered the Nexus energy ribbon during the events chronicled in Star Trek Generations, and was nearly destroyed by its violent energy bolts as she made her escape from its gravitational and time distortion waves. She limped home with a gaping hole across several decks immediately adjacent to her main deflector dish.

This ship's service record is unknown apart from her last mission (and her destruction) at the Klingon outpost Narendra III. During an epic battle in which she engaged three Romulan Warbirds (and was hopelessly outmatched), she accidentally drifted into a space-time continuum distortion that catapulted her into the future to meet an alternate timeline version of her successor, the Enterprise (NCC-1701-D). She was sent back through the distortion to restore the timeline, and was destroyed (in her own original timeframe) shortly after returning from the future.

The only Enterprise formally referred to as the Federation's flagship, this ship has also received the most documented poundings and has been destroyed more often than any other Enterprise before or since.

She has been destroyed numerous times (and restored back to normal by her crew's fiddling with the space-time continuum), severely damaged on many occasions (by attack, sabotage, aliens, new lifeforms, natural phenomenon, and accident), and played host to many bouts of crew insanity or incapacitation.

She was finally destroyed (for good) in orbit around Viridian III by a Klingon Bird of Prey (which destroyed the ship by damaging the warp core enough to cause a breach). While only the drive section was actually destroyed, the saucer section was hit by the shockwave and forced to crash-land on the planet's surface. Because the ship's saucer section wasn't actually capable of landing safely on a planet (the Intrepid Class starships, such as the USS Voyager, are the only known Starfleet starships capable of safe atmospheric maneuvers and planetfall), this totalled the saucer section; she could not be salvaged.

In the alternate timeline before Jean-Luc Picard and James T. Kirk worked together from the Nexus to defeat Doctor Soren's plan to destroy a star (and the entire star system orbiting it) for his own selfish needs, the saucer section (with all hands aboard) was destroyed by the shockwave that resulted from the destruction of the Viridian star.

The Sovereign Class starship built to replace the NCC-1701-D, she was one of probably only three Enterprise-christened ships to be given a proper shakedown mission (the original NCC-1701 and the NCC-1701-D were the other two), of nearly a year in duration. She was introduced in Star Trek: First Contact.

Still, she has seen many battles and has stood on the threshold of destruction on several occasions. She sustained minor damage during her decisive battle with the Borg cube trying to invade and assimilate Earth, then suffered additional damage as her deflector dish was detached and destroyed to prevent it being converted into a beacon to attact more Borg, and one of her two primary coolant tanks in Engineering was breached to melt the organic components of the Borg drones that had taken control of Engineering.

On her next mission, during Star Trek: Insurrection, she is nearly destroyed by a pair of Son'a ships trying to stop her from escaping the Briar patch to dispatch an emergency distress call and warning to Starfleet command. Her warp core is jetissoned and detonated to prevent an "illegal" subspace weapon from destroying the ship entirely and decimating the sector. The ship is seen being towed back to spacedock at the end of this film, so we know she sustained critical damage.

On her most recently documented mission, in Star Trek: Nemesis, she faces an almost indestructible foe -- the Scimitar, equipped with a perfect cloak, nearly impenetrable shields, and loads of disruptors. With both ships staring each other down (having exhausted their energy and photon/quantum torpedo supplies), Captain Picard literally rams the Enterprise's saucer section straight into the Scimitar's hull, causing critical damage to both ships. Much of the Enterprise's forward decks are destroyed during the maneuver.

While the NCC-1701-E is presumed to still be in service, she is clearly no longer the bright and shiny craft she was when the champagne bottle first broke across her bow at her christening. She seems to be travelling the long, hard path her predecessors NCC-1701 and NCC-1701-D took.

Truly, the Enterprise is the single-most abused ship in the Federation, no matter what generation of ship or crew is involved.

Call for aid: I grossly overlooked NX-01, also a ship named Enterprise, and while not officially a Starfleet ship, is quite definitely part of the Star Trek canon. I haven't watched/seen much of the new series; could someone clue me in a bit?

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