Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired in 1987 and is set in 2364. Now, the Enterprise-A was first unveiled in 1986 at the end of The Voyage Home 2286. My question is this: why did the producers decide to name the Enterprise in TNG the Enterprise-D? Why not the Enterprise-C? (I can understand not referring to it as the 'B' because it was reasonable to expect there would be another ship named Enterprise between the decommissioning of the 'A' and 2364). I'm looking for behind-the-scenes information provided by the producers or other staff involved in the production of the series if it is available.

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    If memory serves, TNG was set 80 years after TOS. "A" was unveiled just about 20 years after the era of NCC-1701 "no bloody A, B, C, or D" (Scotty, TNG:"Relics"). This suggests about a 20 year service life for a "top of the line" starship. Simple arithmetic then makes "D" the plausible choice for TNG's Enterprise.
    – Anthony X
    Jun 29, 2015 at 3:16
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    actually enterprise class vessels had a 40 year lifespan if i remember correctly, however, because they were the capital ship, they tended to get blown up earlier then planned. For example the Enterprise C actually had a very short life span, as did the Enterprise D , and the Enterprise E was not originally planned to be the enterprise E, but since the D was destroyed in Generations, they renamed the First Sovereign class ship that finished construction.
    – user36770
    Jun 29, 2015 at 3:20
  • i dont have any suppportiong convos, but i assume the Enterprises were ment to have short life spans because they would be blown up frequently so they could keep upgrading the ship ascetically for the audience. (whether you liked the TNG movies or not, the E is sexy as hell.)
    – user36770
    Jun 29, 2015 at 3:23
  • I think it's still a blend of plausibility and artistic license; have to move it along the alphabet a certain amount. Has to be enough to respect the time which has passed, but not so much that the audience will think they must get blown up on a regular basis. Anyway, "lifespan" and service life are not necessarily the same. "lifespan" = commissioning => scrapheap; "service life" = commissioning => second life - merchant/charter service, utility hauler, passenger ferry, whatever. The ship may last for 40 years if not destroyed in combat, but 20 years is a long time to survive obsolescence.
    – Anthony X
    Jun 29, 2015 at 3:35
  • One minus about choosing the letter D was that whenever someome dislikes something about TNG, he can refer to it as Star Trek: The "D" Generation. Jun 29, 2015 at 4:39

3 Answers 3


Actually, it was originally intended to be the Enterprise-7, until The Voyage Home introduced an alphabetic designation for further Enterprises. Even after that, it was initially designated the Enterprise-G (!) by producers.

From Memory Alpha:

During the early planning stages of TNG, it was intended for the series to be set in the late 25th century. The Enterprise-D would have been the seventh starship to bear the name, with a registry of NCC-1701-7. After the release of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home featuring the USS Enterprise-A, the designation was changed to NCC-1701-G before the producers finally moved the series to eighty years after The Original Series and settled on NCC-1701-D.

Basically, the producers felt that there should be about seven Enterprises in a 150-year period — a service life of just over 20 years.

Incidentally, the article also says:

There was also talk of eliminating the starship from the TNG series altogether and merely boosting the abilities of the transporter, but this idea was quickly dropped.

So, if some producers had their way, there would have been no Enterprise-D at all!

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    There was also talk of eliminating the starship from the TNG series altogether and merely boosting the abilities of the transporter, but this idea was quickly dropped. cough cough into darkness
    – user16696
    Jun 29, 2015 at 4:50
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    The Dominion teleporters operated at the best range of all: the range of plot.
    – Nick T
    Jun 29, 2015 at 5:05
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    @cde: youtu.be/4N15J4ibej8?t=1m35s
    – Ellesedil
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:56
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    Wow, I can't imagine a Star Trek with no ship. Unlike, say, Star Wars, I've always thought of the Enterprise as a major character on the show. I love how on ENT they even called her, not "The Enterprise," but simply the personal name "Enterprise." I think DS9 counted since it provided the same personal environment as a ship, though the addition of the Defiant was awesome.
    – fool4jesus
    Jun 29, 2015 at 15:26
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    @fool4jesus I recommend you check out SG-1 for an idea of what "Star Trek with no ship" is like.
    – talrnu
    Jun 29, 2015 at 15:27

Because of age (decommission) and destruction.

Registry: USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)

Class: Constitution

Service: 2245–2285 (40 Years)

Destroyed in the movie Star Trek III

Registry: USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A)

Class: Constitution refit

Service: 2286–2293 (7 Years)

Captain: James T. Kirk (William Shatner)

Decommissioned due to newer technology in Star Trek IV

In a non-canon novel it was destroyed "The Ashes of Eden (1996)"

Registry: USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-B)

Class: Excelsior refit

Service: 2293–2329 (37 Years)

After that much time it was decommissioned due to age.

Registry: USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-C)

Class: Ambassador

Service: 2332[9] – 2344 (12 Years)

It was destroyed attempting to defend the Klingon outpost Narendra III from Romulan attack. "Yesterday's Enterprise" (1990)

Registry: USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)

Class: Galaxy

Service: 2363–2371 (8 Years)

Destroyed by Romulan Attack during the move "Star Trek Generations"

This information came from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starship_Enterprise but you can find it many places.

The simple answer is time and the destruction of ships. Some of them were destroyed in the movies and some of them were just too old or newer technology came out and had to be decommissioned. It's just a simple matter of the timeline when TNG started.

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    No Romulans were involved for the destruction of the Enterprise D - it was the Klingon Duras sisters that managed to get D to crash land... Jun 29, 2015 at 4:07
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    I appreciate your answer, but I'm specifically inquiring about why out-of-universe the producers decided to call it the D; most of the information you've provided wasn't available to them then Jun 29, 2015 at 4:19
  • @JonClements and the man behind the sister's attack was El-Aurian, so yeah, that's a mistake. Romulans are confused with Klingons surprisingly often
    – Petersaber
    Jun 29, 2015 at 6:15
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    "Decommissioned due to newer technology in Star Trek IV" - the Enterprise-A was only introduced in Star Trek IV. Do you mean Star Trek VI? (And still, even though the movie makes it sound a lot as if this were the last voyage of the Enterprise, this mostly refers to the TOS crew (or at least some of them). The Enterprise-A is still pretty much an almost brand-new ship then; it makes no sense to decommission it so early and we don't actually learn about its fate. Unless there is any evidence to the contrary, we have to assume that the Enterprise-A got a new captain. Maybe it was renamed?) Jun 29, 2015 at 8:20
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    @MichaelMcGriff : scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/80321
    – Praxis
    Jun 29, 2015 at 15:25

My Guess, this was good public relations. It was a special honor given to Kirk's Enterprise after saving Earth. Since they had been such a visible symbol of Starfleet, it was a nice way to honor them. One outlook was that original metal from the Enterprise was scrapped and recycled to build the new one. This is not uncommon in real ships. Steel from the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) has been used in the construction of it's successor (CVN-80).

The Enterprise-A was obvious, Starfleet was looking for a special "punishment" so they pushed through a contract for the renaming and recommissioning of an older Constitution class hull and with Kirk in mind they made that contract number 1701-A. It could also be a form of Naval tradition in a sense of real ships, the USS Constitution is the "Oldest ship still commissioned. I suspect this is out of nostalgia.

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    The Yamato had a registry of NCC-1305-E originally before they changed their minds in another episode and made it an Enterprise only thing...which i think was regrettable. Jun 2, 2020 at 5:51

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