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The USS Enterprise-E, which was a Sovereign class, had a Captain's Yacht. Even Galaxy and Intrepid class vessels are supposed to have these, but they are never seen or heard about on screen.

What is the purpose of this type of vessel (and of course, why aren't they used more often)? Tactical, cargo, passenger, multi-purpose or captain's personal use? Wouldn't it have been better to simply add a Runabout to the ship's complement of shuttles instead?

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    What is the point in being the Captain if you don't get perks? Any officer can requisition a shuttle/runabout, but only the Captain can use the Captain's yacht. – Xantec Mar 26 '12 at 13:55
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    Technically they are seen on-screen in both TNG and VOY. They are seen docked in the bottom of the saucer sections. We never see them used and launched tho. – eidylon Mar 26 '12 at 15:34
  • There's also reference to there being one in TOS. I don't remember the actual documentation, and it's not on screen. I think it was in something like The Making of Star Trek or something like that. I remember when I read it, I thought, "Cool! I never knew that!" – Tango Mar 26 '12 at 18:18
  • Ahem - scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/79533/… – Valorum Dec 4 '15 at 18:31
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According to the TNG Technical Manual it is technically characterized as multipurpose, but

normally functions to convey diplomatic personnel on special missions not normally accomplished by shipboard transporters.

It describes the interior as having

two modest staterooms, flight crew bunks, galley, and engineering access.

We most likely never saw it early in TNG for budget reasons, and once the Runabouts made their debut in DS9 it made more sense (from a production standpoint) to use those in TNG as well.

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    It's kind of disappointing that we didn't see this in TNG. Especially since there was a perfect opportunity in Encounter at Farpoint, given the purpose you've described here, when Data brought Dr. McCoy on board. – Iszi Mar 27 '12 at 4:59
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There is mention of it here...

http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Galaxy_class_model

"In the original show the dome on the bottom of the ship was a sensor array. What I did was move the sensor array to more of a surrounding detail, leaving the dome on the bottom free. That's where I put the captain's yacht, which is a private vessel for dignitaries and captains of ships to use as personal shuttles. That was never used in the show. At one point there was a script where Picard was returning to the ship and the dialogue was, "The captain's shuttle is on the way back. Crew members, man your stations." Then the captain comes aboard. We never ever have a visual, so I suggested mentioning the yacht, but they decided against it." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 16, p. 55)

I always thought it was an artifact from the model kit. A hole was left in the underside of the saucer section to display the saucer separated, but when the ship was fully assembled a small oval part fit into the hole labeled "Captain's Yacht". I was startled to find this mention of it in the ship's original design.

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