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USS Shenzhou Overview

My rating: 6.3/10

Side View

Image from Memory Alpha


USS Shenzhou (NCC-1227) is a Walker-class starship featured prominently in the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery. She was built in the San Francisco Fleet Yards sometime prior of 2249. In 2256, Shenzhou conducted a mission to aid the Crepusculans by reviving their water supply. Following that mission, the ship took part in a confrontation with a Klingon vessel resulting in a battle between a Starfleet task force and Klingon warships belonging to the Great Houses. The ship was ultimately abandoned due to extensive battle damage.

The ship is likely named for the China's Shenzhou manned spaceflight program. Shenzhou is also Chinese for "divine craft".

My thoughts

In all honestly, I like the design. The underslung bridge is a tad unusual, but the form of the ship is solid and reminiscent of USS Centaur of DS9 fame (albeit Shenzhou has a larger secondary hull underneath). The only problem is that Shenzhou's design gives me a late-24th Century vibe, which destroys the design's credibility.

Shenzhou could easily pass as a successor to Centaur. It lacks the clean lines of the Constitution-class of 2245 and has a deflector dish that is simply unforgivable. Its nacelles are also more angular than anything I have seen in the Federation. The ship is capable of atmospheric flight, which should not be a problem with the timeframe as long as it could not actually land (which they did not show or state was a possibility). I say that as landing an actual starship was seen as an unusual procedure in Starfleet even by the 2370s.

As the design looks more modern than a Constitution, the design should be post 2245. If so, then the registry is far too small. Despite some general anomalies, Starfleet's ship registry system is numerically progressive like a modern Navy's hull number system. NCC-1227 would mostly make sense for a ship that is closer to the start of the 23rd Century than the middle of it. One thing to note is that the ship was considered "old" by dialogue, but a single word doesn't really solve this dilemma.

The most notable system we can see on this ship is its atmospheric thrusters in that one scene in "The Vulcan Hello", which were a nice detail to see! In the weapons department, the ships has Phase cannons and Photon torpedoes - both what we should expect from this period, which again is excellent. The ship also has deflector shields. The ship has a "lateral vector" transporter system that is stated to be obsolete due to its power consumption.

My scoring

  1. Aesthetic pleasure: 7/10
  2. Design suitability: 3/10
  3. Registry number: 3/10
  4. Unique features: 5/10
  5. Offensive system choices: 10/10
  6. Defensive system choices: 10/10
  7. Average: 6.3/10

Final notes

I do like the design. It is just not a very good mid-23rd Century one. The major hull detailing does not suit the era, and it even looks more advanced than TOS movie era ships. The core functionality of the ship seems bang on though, so I am marking this design as part of the visual reboot.