I am wondering what the exact differences are between the refit USS Enterprise (first three Star Trek films) and the USS Enterprise-A (subsequent three films)?

In particular, which ship, if any, is more powerful in terms of size and technology? Has there ever been an in-depth comparison between the two anywhere in books or other sources?

  • Actually some sources claim that the Enterprise A was not a new ship but actually before being recommisioned as the Enterprise A it was formally the USS Yorktown NCC 1717
    – user48422
    Jul 20, 2015 at 6:42
  • Which sources??
    – Chenmunka
    Jul 20, 2015 at 7:37
  • Deck plans for the stock constitution class and the refit can be found at the Starfleet Museum
    – user104014
    Aug 20, 2018 at 9:24
  • I'm against the Yorktown becoming the Enterprise. It was one of the starships disabled by the Probe in the film. Which doesn't leave much time for a repair. Other sources say USS Ti-Ho or that it was a brand new Constitution. I personally prefer it being a new ship but can't prove it. Dec 3, 2020 at 4:34

6 Answers 6


Athough both ships are classified as "Constitution" class, there are several differences between the two. The original NCC-1701 was an older-style Constitution that was upgraded with more advanced components, whereas the NCC-1701-A was a brand-new, state-of-the-art vessel as of its launch. The two vessels appeared identical externally, and the dimensions and layout of both vessels matched up as well. Internally, however, was a different matter altogether.

The NCC-1701-A had numerous improvements over its refit predecessor:

  • Enlarged bridge
  • Automated systems
  • Separate shuttle bays
  • Vertical warp core
  • Enhanced security features
  • More advanced brig
  • Early replicator technology
  • Full-height jeffries tubes
  • Officer's dining hall

Many of the improvements were from an aesthetics or usability perspective. However, the majority of systems became automated on the NCC-1701-A, which could conceivably offer an advantage (perhaps a decrease in reaction time) during combat.

  • Did it really have early TNG style replicados or is it still TOS era conveyor system maybe replaced by teleporters?
    – user16696
    Feb 26, 2015 at 19:43
  • It's described as having "primitive replicators" in the mess hall. That may just mean teleporting the food from elsewhere, but I would guess there's more to it.
    – Omegacron
    Feb 26, 2015 at 19:46
  • 1701 and 1701-A aren't identical externally at all, not close. The shape is the same, yes, but nacelles are completly different, and so are the pylons, the deflector, the neck, the saucer is larger and thinner, etc etc etc
    – Petersaber
    Jul 20, 2015 at 8:37
  • 2
    @Petersaber There are three versions of the Enterprise seen on screen, prior to TNG - pre-refit (as seen on TV), post-refit (as seen in the first three films), and the 1701-A (as seen in the fifth and sixth films). The original poster is only talking about the later two, which are nearly identical in exterior appearance.
    – T.J.L.
    Jul 20, 2015 at 13:01
  • @T.J.L. my bad. I just opened the links and immediatly went "wait a minute...". movie.1701 -> 1701-A was a retrofit then
    – Petersaber
    Jul 21, 2015 at 6:04

Both the refit and the A variant are considered Constitution Class Starships. Externally they are identical, while the majority of internal differences are cosmetic or layout in nature. The torpedo room is more automated in the A compared to the refit, with smaller but equally strong torpedoes. But otherwise, both had the same speed, offense and defense specs.

  • Not trying to nitpick, but if they're using different torpedoes, their offensive specs should be different (even if the damage potential is very similar in the end). :)
    – Mario
    Feb 26, 2015 at 14:35
  • @mario the difference was the casing size, not the warhead potential or technology.
    – user16696
    Feb 26, 2015 at 15:06
  • thanks for the replies! can someone also be able to direct me to a a page somewhere that deals directly between the differeces of both ships in full detail? I would really appreciate it! Feb 26, 2015 at 16:10
  • Memory alpha the star trek canon wiki page for the NCC 1701-A has a full list.
    – user16696
    Feb 26, 2015 at 17:02
  • thanks everyone for answering my post. Also can someone direct me to a site that shows these comparsions in and full details? Feb 28, 2015 at 20:09

This is a possible addition to most of the answers which have mostly covered the differences. It bears mentioning that in my opinion at least until The Undiscovered Country, it is my contention that the Original Refit Enterprise was superior in overall power, resilience, and some equipment to the Enterprise-A, assuming she had her full crew.

My points in support of that statement:

  • The A is in horrific shape as of ST V, and even Scotty couldn't get her fully functional by that time. In fact, he didn't refit her in the first place, and likely the engineering team that did was of undoubtedly lower skill than he. Whereas just prior to ST I, Scotty had refit the original Enterprise himself.

  • Expanding on the first point Scotty put a lot more love and work into his favorite ship, the original, and likely she had advancements in all of her systems beyond what you would find in practically any other ship at the time. He also very likely kept these updates current all the way up to even ST II. This made it unlikely that the A which would have been just an "average" refit would be able to edge out the original Enterprise in anything but convenience and automation. I.E. the "old age" paraphrased by the Commander of Starfleet in III likely refers to the combination of spaceframe age, and her current battle damage. It was probably his intention to give a superior crew a more advanced ship, possibly the next production line Excelsior class made. (Script needs nonwithstanding)

  • While it is just conjecture, and/or changing of the times in movie making, the Original Refit Enterprise defenses in most cases seemed superior to the A as far as on screen battles and shield strikes were shown. The original held together longer, and seemed overall better equipped for her missions altogether, again likely due to Scotty and his teams putting in that extra mile with her.

  • Though rare across episodes, super advanced Aliens still had done some modifications to the original ship, which might have carried over to the refit. This would give it an edge over the A in a variety of situations looking at it logically.

Well that's likely it, and while it is my opinions of course, I like to think that it warrants mentioning the above in this discussion. Lastly, I also like the coloring of the Refit better I.E. in ST II, in almost every way, and I like the ST I bridge best to go with it. So I think the original Refit wins there too.

Let me know what everyone thinks.
(I would have preferred to have just left a comment, but insufficient reputation so..)

  • When we're only considering "Star Trek V", you're probably right. The ship wasn't 100% finished when the Nimbus III mission occurred. Kirk specifically complained that the ship wasn't ready and didn't have a full crew, but he was overruled by Starfleet Command. The next movie, "Star Trek VI", took place six years later, so the ship had obviously been finished and fully fleshed out by then.
    – Omegacron
    Jan 5, 2022 at 21:06

There are some differnces externally, windows and paint job. enter image description here

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. The comparison image is nice, but the question was more interested in the technological differences; you can improve your answer if you can add anything relevant to that.
    – DavidW
    Jan 3, 2020 at 1:33

Refit had automated toilets. Later still, the transporter and resequencer technologies would be combined to extract bodily waste directly from the human body and transformed it into other useful items such as hamburgers and beer.

  • Do you have any sources for this?
    – DavidW
    Jun 2, 2022 at 0:28

There was one external difference. They had to repaint the model so the pearl accents on the engine section were originally a greenish-grey on NCC-1701 vs a light blueish-grey on NCC-1701-A. It's subtle, but for a bit of fun one can assume that other Constitution class refits might have had slight color differences: maybe a violet-greyish for some, or maybe reddish-grey?

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