A few minutes into 1996's Star Trek: First Contact, a freshly ocular-implanted Geordi LaForge spells it out for us: "The Enterprise-E is the most advanced starship in the in fleet."
Designed by then relative newcomer John Eaves and veteran production designer Herman Zimmerman, the Enterprise-E was the successor of the late-USS Enterprise-D, described by First Contact writers Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga as "sleek" and "muscular". Lacking the comfy, Hilton-in-space feel of the Enterprise-D (as well that ship's questionable compliment of families and kids), the Enterprise-E was fast, heavily armed, and better poised to swoop into action on the big screen than her television predecessor.
Still, the Enterprise-E only served in three theatrical adventures, never made a cameo in any of the TV spin-offs, and has yet to make an appearance in Star Trek: Picard's recent revival of the 24th century. As flagship of the Federation, she took on the Borg, the Son'a, and the Remans, but we may actually know less about the Enterprise-E than of any other hero ship in the Star Trek Universe.
Here are ten little-known facts about the Sovereign-class Enterprise-E that we were able to find hidden deep in the Starfleet Museum Quantum Archives.
The design process for the USS Enterprise-E actually began before the script for Star Trek: First Contact was even completed. After the destruction of the Enterprise-D in 1994's Star Trek Generations, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine illustrator John Eaves began work on the new Enterprise as early as 1995.
Eaves' initial sketches incorporated his own favorite elements of Enterprises past with the sleek lines of the USS Voyager, eliminating the dorsal neck and rotating the oval-shaped saucer of the Galaxy-class Enterprise-D to give the ship the illusion of forward motion. Like Voyager, Eaves' new Enterprise possessed forward swept warp nacelle pylons that pivoted up when ship engaged its warp drive.
According to Eaves, "considerable work" was done on the Enterprise-E in this configuration and the ship was nearly finalized when producer Rick Berman took another look at the design and made the realization: "'It looks like a big turkey in a pan."
This observation sent Star Trek: First Contact's art department back to the drawing board and the ship was revised to eliminate the any turkey-like design elements, which is kind of a shame given Star Trek: First Contact's Thanksgiving 1996 release date.