What’s the Deal With the USS Shenzhou?

USS Shenzhou Schematic?
 
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Little is Known About the USS Shenzhou – a Starfleet Vessel

We analyze the USS Shenzhou, speculate on its role and appearance, and try to figure out how it may fit in within the latest Star Trek television series, Star Trek Discovery.

Star Trek Discovery - USS Shenzhou
Star Trek Discovery – USS Shenzhou
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The USS Shenzhou.  Very few official details about this Starfleet vessel have been released by CBS or the Star Trek Discovery production crew.  We don’t know if the starship shown above even is the USS Shenzhou.  So what do we know, and what can we infer from the details we have so far?  What speculation can be made from so little information?

Some – so lets dive right in.


What We Know of the Shenzhou So Far

Before we begin, let us start by itemizing what we do know about this mystery Starfleet ship so that we can extrapolate some further details and information.

These details are provided either by CBS on their Star Trek Discovery website or news sections, the Discovery production crew itself (including former showrunner Bryan Fuller, writers, the cast, and filming crew in Toronto), or are fair assumptions that can be made based on what data we do have, be that quotes, images, video, tweets, etc.

Here’s what we’ve managed to compile that we feel has a very high probability of truth.

  1. The Shenzhou is a Starfleet vessel
  2. It’s under the command of Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh)
  3. Chief Medical Officer is Dr. Nambue (Maulik Pancholy)
  4. There is a Junior Officer, Ensign Connor, assigned to crew (Sam Vartholomeos)
  5. It will appear in at least one episode of Star Trek Discovery
  6. The word “shenzhou” (神舟) means “divine craft”
  7. Named in honor of China’s first manned spacecraft
  8. The bridge will have a typical Starfleet-styled circular shape

Speculations About the USS Shenzhou

Next we’re going to put together a list that is more speculative.  Each item on the list is based on what we feel to be most likely.  These aren’t simply guessing – each has reason and analysis behind it.  For example, in #5 we state the USS Shenzhou is likely smaller than USS Discovery.  To us this makes sense or the Shenzhou would likely be the main ship of the series.  Additionally, we believe the picture above is of the Shenzhou, and judging by the warp nacelles, this is a smaller class vessel.

Here’s the speculations list.

  1. It’s likely of a previously-unseen Starfleet vessel class, though familiar (Enterprise NX-01, Miranda Class, etc)
  2. It’s probably a 23rd century build and/or design, though late 22nd century isn’t out of the question
  3. It will almost certainly have a sub-1700 NCC registry number
  4. The Shenzhou will likely be featured throughout entire first season or more
  5. It’s probably a smaller ship, and smaller crew, than the USS Discovery

More ‘Shenzhou’ and Less ‘Discovery’

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What’s of interest is that as of now (February 15, 2017) there are more official cast members assigned to the USS Shenzhou than there are to the USS Discovery.  It’s unclear why that is.  As of now, there are three crew assigned to the Shenzhou and just one to Discovery (Lt. Cmd. Rainsford has had no official announcement yet).  It’s unclear which crew Saru will belong to.  Sarek is not likely to be a crew member of either vessel, though a likely passenger, and the three remaining official cast announcements are all Klingons.

If the series does end up focused more around the crew of the USS Shenzhou than the crew of the Discovery, it could mean that Lieutenant Commander Rainsford, our protagonist, is operating covertly.  Perhaps in collaboration with the Shenzhou.  Or perhaps something will happen to Discovery’s primary bridge crew that forces Rainsford to take control of the ship.  Afterall, why make a big deal of the Captain’s chair at the end of the most recent Discovery teaser if it’s not an important seat?

Shifting gears; we know that the only officially-announced crewman of the USS Discovery is Lt. Stamets.  Stamets is an Astromycologist by training and specializes in
fungus.  It seems that this would be an important piece of information, and a very specialized field of science.  Does that mean it’ll be a handy one too?  If so, then Stamets may be spending a lot of time, possibly all of his time, on a planet instead of Discovery.  Will he be alone or will Rainsford be with him?  Would the Shenzhou then be the primary starship of the show with Rainsford still technically a crew-member of the USS Discovery?  This is all wild speculation but it would be interesting if the USS Shenzhou becomes the focus, kind of like how the USS Defiant did on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  Or would Lt. Stamets be dealing with a fungal outbreak, perhaps one that affects a certain humanoid species?

Tell us what you think the Shenzhou’s role will be in Star Trek Discovery in the comments section below.

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About Cassius Adams

Cassius Adams is the creator of ncc-1031.com and is a content contributor. He has been a Star Trek fan for nearly three decades. Cassius discovered his passion for the franchise early into TNG's run, and nourished that passion throughout DS9, Voyager, Enterprise, and the movies. Cassius can be reached by emailing cass@ncc-1031.com or you can follow him on Twitter at @supercass

  • 4ndré

    I have been intrigued by this for a while. All of the casting announcements were about characters on the USS Shenzou or on some Klingon vessel.
    My first guess was this sounds a bit like Voyager – only with two or more isolated starships that are in distress or on a secret misson.

    • cass ada

      That actually wouldn’t surprise me either. Maybe they’re stranded in enemy territory. Or maybe they’re on a low-profile mission, organized by Ambassador Sarek, Admiral Anderson and Klingon leader T’Kuvma.

  • Elim Garak

    People may be overthinking this a bit. It’s a possibility that because of the increased danger from the ongoing Romulan conflict that will be a backdrop for the series, Star Fleet could conceivably have developed a policy away from having solitary non-warships patrolling the more dangerous sectors, to having mini-taskforces of a more lethal warship (in this case the Shenzhou) and a smaller “escort” vessel, similar to what the U.S. Navy does currently. But having said that, from a practical production standpoint, maintaining two separate sets for two ships shown each week would be too expensive to last through a whole season, much less a multi-year series, which would lend credence to the idea that the Discovery is damaged/destroyed and the Shenzhou is re-christened the Discovery. At least I hope it goes like that because I’m not all that thrilled with the look or the limited battle capabilities of the smaller U.S.S. Discovery!

  • geekfilter

    “…why make a big deal of the Captain’s chair at the end of the most recent Discovery teaser if it’s not an important seat?” Because it’s Star Trek and the captain’s chair has ALWAYS been an important seat in any iteration of Trek no matter the captain or how he or she got there. There have been many adverts featuring the captain’s chair, toys & replicas, and the original TOS chair sold for $265,000 at auction ($10,200 for Archer’s). It’s a touchstone they can use to generate interest and the chair was the first thing we ever saw of DSC so they can show it again, further put together, without revealing more of the set.