“Star Trek” is a franchise overflowing with futuristic technologies (some of which are on the verge of being implemented today), a number of complex socio—political cultures and a huge cohort of alien races inhabiting the galaxy. Some of the most important and perhaps most important aspects of any Star Trek series are not the characters, not some mystery the crew is facing, but the ship itself.
Over the years, there have been many different iterations of the iconic USS Enterprise, from The Original Series to Enterprise. However, one of the most controversial moments was the Enterprise from the popular TV show “The Next Generation” under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Despite the fact that the ship was a favorite, it had one serious problem — a huge number of civilians on board.
While this may not seem like a problem to begin with, it’s actually part of a much more complex problem when you consider what this ship was actually designed for. Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) was a galactic-class ship, and despite being the pinnacle of the Federation’s technological progress, Enterprise D was used primarily as an intergalactic cruise ship. This perhaps somewhat understates its purpose, but since it was built during a time of relative peace. The long war with the Klingon Empire is over. The Vulcans’ long-lost cousins, the Romulans, weren’t particularly friendly themselves, but kept to themselves. The cunning politicians of the Federation kept the Cardassians at arm’s length. Things were going well in the alpha Quadrant, so the need for large warships was much lower. Instead, the focus was on research and discovery.
Thus, for a program that teaches the importance of self-knowledge and improvement, it was appropriate to have a research vessel as its flagship, rather than devote it to military weapons of mass destruction — not exactly what the Federation is talking about. or they tried to portray Gene Roddenberry. Although Enterprise D was not specifically a warship, it was still capable of striking. It was faster and more powerful than any ship that had come before it, and despite not being openly advertised, it also had the most firepower. It could easily be classified as a battleship or battlecruiser. However, Starfleet was adamant in classifying it as a research cruiser, created not for war, but for research.
It was precisely because of this non-militaristic function that there were so many civilians on board the ship, consisting of the families of crew members and “employees”, for lack of a better word. While a large number of military establishments are now often bustling with a few civilians, whether in ports, running kiosks or providing various types of entertainment, this is nothing compared to the scale present on board the Enterprise.
This is most likely exactly what this large number of civilian crew members will do: performing the necessary “civilian” functions, such as hairdressers, bartenders, teachers, waiters, the list goes on. They are shown several times throughout the show, and the mysterious Ginan is a prime example, running the Ten Forward bar. This is seen in DS9 with Miles O’Brien’s famous wife Keiko, who is looking for a purpose on board the station, trying to teach and eventually settling on Bajoran botany. Enterprise is not only a place for space exploration, but also self—discovery, and the discovery of what people really want to do with their lives.
These people will be a mixture of people who want to lead a space lifestyle, living in relative luxury while fulfilling their roles, and family members of Starfleet officers. It was supposed to be a five-year research mission, and because of the relative peace the Federation lived in, they decided that these family members could join them. Thus, the problem is that the USS Enterprise D is constantly exposed to ridiculous danger.
It makes sense that after one or two seasons of various disasters, such as teleporting across the galaxy to fend off a race of zombie robots, Starfleet may have thought twice about sending many innocent civilians into unexplored and dangerous areas of space. However, everything went on about the same. These civilians were most likely given roles and instructions during the crisis, red sirens directing them to safe zones, and they were all trained in some form of emergency assistance: fire fighting, first aid, etc.
The second problem becomes obvious when looking at the huge scale of the ship. It has been estimated that the ship contains 8.9 million square feet (or 827,000 square meters) of living space. Although it sounds like a lot, it’s hard to imagine this huge scale without some context, so it’s important to consider how many people were on board.