Gene Roddenberry specifically changed the ST:TNG opening monologue to say “its ongoing mission”, changing the original female reference (see writer’s guide). Every episode opened with this gender-neutral reference.

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However on the official Startrek.com owned by CBS the Enterprise has female pronouns.

Also, in ST:The Battle Data reviews the logs from the Stargazer which is referred to as a female:

DATA: The last entry dated nine years ago, sir. By you. (reading screen) We are forced to abandon our starship. May she find her way without us. Apparently she did, sir.
CRUSHER: How do you feel, Captain?
PICARD: Oh, I'm fine, Doctor. Lieutenant Yar, run a structural analysis on the Stargazer for an impulse tow. Data, download all computers to the Enterprise and file. I'm going to look at my old cabin.

What is the official canon and how does Discovery treat this?

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    The monologue of TOS uses "its", not "her": youtube.com/watch?v=B594jsKbsss So it would seem that if Gene did have the TNG monologue changed, it was to make it closer to the original. Possibly because "her continuing mission" wouldn't make sense with a completely new Enterprise. However, Spock's monologue in Wrath of Khan does use "her": youtube.com/watch?v=xZoiKcdfPk4 but the refit Enterprise is meant to be the same ship as TOS so it makes more sense there. But I realize this doesn't really answer your question; I'm just lending some more info. Sep 24, 2019 at 18:02
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    I haven't really looked into it, but the difference might be the linguistic register. The TOS intro monolog has an "official" vibe to me. It wouldn't be out of place if it begun with something like "Mr President, Honorable Excellencies, ...". Here, the more neutral, well, neutral form might fit better. Other situations might be more casual, especially if the speaker has a close relationship to the vessel. Here, the more emotional (endearing?) feminine form might be chosen. It could be debated where official logs fall with this. Sep 24, 2019 at 19:22
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    I believe you mean neuter, not neutral Sep 25, 2019 at 2:12
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    The word pertaining to grammatical gender is neuter Feb 8, 2020 at 17:07

2 Answers 2


The best explanation is that Roddenberry wanted to accentuate the shift in pronouns in the introduction. The original was rather infamous

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before!

It would seem rather silly to take out man, but change the original phrasing to refer to the ship as her.

This doesn't change proper English, however. Ships are traditionally referred to with female pronouns and we see the Enterprise is no exception. From The Ultimate Computer (TOS)

KIRK: Lieutenant, get Daystrom up here. Disengaging M-5 unit. Cut speed to warp one. Navigator, go to course one one three mark seven. I want that ship given a wide berth.
SULU: She won't respond, sir. She's maintaining course.

Star Trek IV (referring to 1701-A)

KIRK: All right, Mister Sulu, Let's see what she's got.

From Lonely Among Us (TNG)

DATA: If the Enterprise were really this fragile, sir, she never would have left Spacedock.

Later in the same episode

LAFORGE: Helm control just went down. She won't respond.

The 37s (Voyager)

AMELIA: How fast?
PARIS: Warp nine point nine. In your terms, that's about four billion miles a second.
AMELIA: Think I could take her out for a spin?
PARIS: Well, er

I could go on, but I can't find anywhere where they made a huge deal about not using a female pronoun for the ship

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    Star Trek TOS "The Naked Time": "This vessel, I give, she takes. She won't permit me my life. I've got to live hers.". "The Corbomite Maneuver": " I've already got a female to worry about. Her name's the Enterprise."
    – Basya
    Sep 26, 2019 at 7:44

Vessels have always been female, nouns are gendered even in English.

eg; "she cannae take much more of this, Captain!"

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    Yet Roddenberry made Enterprise neutral in TNG. Why?
    – Vogon Poet
    Sep 24, 2019 at 17:52
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    I would postulate it's because "her" is confusing in that context. It makes it read like we are discussing an individual person's mission, and not that of the ship.
    – rld
    Sep 24, 2019 at 18:04
  • Interesting but it is not confusing in a ship’s log? Maybe he just thought he should use it differently when speaking directly to the audience (outside the universe). But then their Web page should follow that idea as well. Hmmm
    – Vogon Poet
    Sep 24, 2019 at 18:18
  • I hate to be harsh on a new user, but I have to downvote this one. Vessels have traditionally been female in English. Other languages, like Russian, have different rules.
    – T.J.L.
    Sep 25, 2019 at 17:28
  • That's fine, but the subject of the question, and the question itself, were about the use of English, not Russian. I don't believe third party translations are considered canon as I doubt he original creative team would have had a hand in them.
    – rld
    Sep 25, 2019 at 19:07

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