In TOS, TNG, TAS and, of course, ENT, we witness the voyages of the many different USS Enterprises. Going back to TOS, though, my question is: why did the producers settle on the name Enterprise as the name of the ship?

I understand it was originally called the USS Yorktown NCC-1700 but then they changed it to Enterprise. What influenced this change?

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    It's a surprisingly common name for ships used for exploration in real-world history, but I've no idea if that influenced the producers.
    – user867
    Aug 21, 2015 at 4:27
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    Wild guess suggests its after the Enterprise CVN-65 aircraft carrier (Enterprise class) which was as well the first nuclear powered carrier. So the space ship Enterprise would represent exactly the same thing as the brand new, cutting edge ass-kicking, makes-your-country-proud sea vessel. Star trek was written in 1964, two years after USS Enterprise entered into service
    – Yasskier
    Aug 21, 2015 at 4:35
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    Just speculating here, but the USS Enterprise (CV-6) a.k.a. the "Big E" was a legendary WW2 aircraft carrier that participated in more major actions against the Japanese than any other ship. It was a Yorktown class aircraft carrier commissioned before WW2 and was one of only 3 such pre-WW2 carriers to survive the war (and the most decorated warship from WW2). I suspect this was a significant influence on the naming of the flagship. Aug 21, 2015 at 4:55
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    @Kevin : But the shuttle wasn't built until 1976...
    – Praxis
    Aug 21, 2015 at 5:23
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    @Kevin You've got the causal relationship backwards with the Shuttle Orbiter. The Orbiter was named after the TOS ship because of a fan write-in campaign to NASA, not the other way around. Aug 21, 2015 at 5:28

2 Answers 2


At the present time, I cannot find a statement by Roddenberry concerning the change from Yorktown to Enterprise, nor from TOS personnel such as Matt Jefferies.

In lieu of a statement, I will offer speculations.

Historical and technological significance

When Roddenberry pitched the show in 1964, the actual USS Yorktown (CV-5) would have been remembered for being sunk by the Japanese during the Battle of Midway, only 22 years earlier.

The USS Enterprise (CV-6) survived not only the battle but the war as the most decorated US ship.

Not only has the Enterprise name been given to a healthy line of decorated ships, it also would have represented the cutting edge: the CVN-65 Enterprise, built in the early 1960s, was the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. This powerful symbol of progress and achievement may have had an impact on the naming of everyone's favourite starship a few years later.


At a practical level, "Enterprise" sounds more universal and less US-centric than "Yorktown", and hence fits with Roddenberry's pan-humanist beliefs.


It sounds sexier. Note that in Roddenberry's series pitch, Robert April was the captain. Enterprise + Kirk is decidedly sexier than Yorktown + April.

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    Note also that Spock was red-skinned and "half-Martian" in the original pitch.
    – Praxis
    Aug 21, 2015 at 5:39
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    “In lieu of a statement, I will offer speculations.” That’s the spirit! Aug 21, 2015 at 8:35
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    Although this of course isn't as good as anything official, these are very sound speculations; great work as always! Aug 21, 2015 at 8:51
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    +1. While Enterprise is indeed more universal than Yorktown, it's still associated with free-market capitalism. So it suggests that in this future, the USA has triumphed over the USSR and Communism. Of course that is what eventually happened, but in 1964 it was by no means believed to be a foregone conclusion. Aug 21, 2015 at 10:06
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    @RoyalCanadianBandit It's more likely the name is referring to the more general definition of enterprise: a project or undertaking, typically one that is difficult or requires effort. Aug 21, 2015 at 11:07

The USS Enterprise of Star Trek is named after the line of naval vessels in real life named Enterprise.


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    Welcome to SFFSE! I appreciate the answer, but simply citing a Wikipedia article, which, by the way, does not even provide evidence that the Enterprise was named after the real Enterprise ships, isn't valid Aug 21, 2015 at 11:22
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    @Kik it's one thing to admit that you are speculating and provide little evidence, but it's another to claim that a source provides evidence for a claim when it clearly doesn't Aug 22, 2015 at 0:53
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    @Kik : The question was why did the name change from Yorktown to Enterprise? That's the question that I attempted to answer, and I stated clearly that I was speculating because I could not find an official statement. This answer, however, is just a Wikipedia link and makes no attempt to answer the actual question, that is, why was the name changed? I didn't downvote this answer; I'm just trying to explain why others might think mine is superior. I do not believe that this answer meets the standards of this site.
    – Praxis
    Aug 22, 2015 at 5:04

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