Thursday, August 21, 2014

Picturing the USS Titan

In the 2002 movie Star Trek Nemesis it was revealed Captain Riker would be taking command of a starship of his own, the USS Titan. Almost nothing else was revealed about the ship on-screen, other than that Deanna Troi would be joining Riker on the new ship, and their first mission would be to deal with the fall-out on Romulus after the events of the film.

With the TNG-era done on-screen, the door was left open for new adventures of this new ship in Star Trek fiction, and Pocket Books made sure those adventures came, starting in 2005 with new book series featuring Riker's new ship, Star Trek: Titan.

Taking Wing, the first book in that new series, established the Titan as Luna class, a medium sized vessel of exploration. That book also included details of a competition to design the Luna class Titan. The winning design would be selected by a panel of Star Trek experts, and would become the official design of the new ship, and be featured on a future book cover. As the rules described:
All designs will be judged by the Star Trek editorial staff at Pocket Books, together with Star Trek designers Doug Drexler, Michael Okuda, and Rick Sternbach; Associate Producer, Star Trek: Enterprise David Rossi; Senior Director of Licensed Publishing for Viacom Consumer Products Paula M. Block; and Manager of Licensed Publishing for Viacom Consumer Products John Van Citters, all of whom are fully qualified to apply the stated judging criteria. Entries will be judged on the basis of originality (25%), execution (25%), consistency with the U.S.S. Titan Concept Notes (25%), consistency with Star Trek Starfleet style (25%). The winning design will be published in an upcoming Star Trek: Titan novel, and will be used as the basis for cover art on the same book. The winning designer will be credited on the novel's copyright page. In the event that there is an insufficient number of submissions received that meet the minimum standards determined by the judges, the prize will not be awarded.
The rules also included details of the Luna class, which the winning design would have to conform to (continues after the jump):
The Ship:
U.S.S. Titan, NCC-80102, Luna-class. The Titan is a midsize Starfleet vessel, approximately 450 meters in length (larger than the U.S.S. Voyager, smaller than the Enterprise-D), with a crew complement of 350. Titan's hull configuration is comparable to other established Starfleet vessels.

The Luna-class is Starfleet's newest-generation long-range explorer, a starship not built specifically for combat, but like the Constitution-class of the previous century, a vessel designed for a long-term multipurpose mission into uncharted space. Equipped with conventional tactical systems (deflector shields; phasers; quantum torpedoes), Titan also boasts state-of-the-art propulsion and cutting-edge scientific equipment, as well as being a testbed for experimental science tech not yet available on other classes.

The Titan is manned by the most varied multispecies crew in Starfleet history, with humans taking up less than 15% of the 350-member crew. The diversity of the crew is intended to facilitate stories that will explore the ways that beings of different cultures, biologies, psychologies, and physical appearances learn how to work together, or fail to, depending on the circumstances they encounter. Titan has eight shuttlecraft of various sizes.

The story behind the Luna-class:
The Luna-Class Development Project was initiated in 2369 in response to the discovery of the Bajoran wormhole, and originally conceived as leading a planned Starfleet wave of deep-space exploration in the Gamma Quadrant. The project was spearheaded by Dr. (Commander) Xin Ra-Havreii, a Starfleet theoretical engineer at Utopia Planitia. Field testing on the prototype U.S.S. Luna was under way by 2372 in the Alpha Quadrant, and construction of the fleet was scheduled to begin the following year. Unfortunately, contact with the Dominion and the subsequent outbreak of hostilities mothballed the project indefinitely, as Starfleet redirected its shipbuilding resources to the production of vessels better suited to combat.

Upon the war's end in late 2375, Dr. Ra-Havreii correctly judged that the Federation's cultural psychology would eventually shift back toward its pre-war ideals, and pushed to have the Luna-class revisited as a major step toward resuming Starfleet's mission of peaceful exploration (even though the class would no longer be assigned exclusively to the exploration of the Gamma Quadrant). Construction of an initial fleet of twelve Luna-class vessels was completed by 2379, and the Titan was offered to William T. Riker, one of many command officers eager to put the strife of the last decade behind him.

The Luna-class fleet:
The ships of the Luna-class are all named for moons in Earth's solar system:

The winning design came from Sean Tourangeau, and was revealed to the world in an announcement from Pocket Books editor Marco Palmieri:
After receiving hundreds of entries, I'm pleased to announce the winner of the Starship Titan Design Contest: Sean Tourangeau of Colorado Springs, CO. Sean's combined score was highest in the categories of originality, execution, consistency with the U.S.S. Titan Concept Notes, and consistency with Star Trek's established Starfleet style.

Sean's design (displayed below) will be featured on the interior pages of the fourth Star Trek Titan novel, to be published in January, 2007, and will be used as the basis for cover art on that book.

Notable entries also came from our runners-up: Cary L. Brown of Schaumburg, IL; James Corey Dukes of West Columbia, SC; and Phillip Ridings of Southaven, MS.

On behalf of judges Paula Block, Margaret Clark, Doug Drexler, Jennifer Heddle, Elisa Kassin, Michael Okuda, David Rossi, Edward Schlesinger, Scott Shannon, Rick Sternbach, and John Van Citters, I'd like to congratulate Sean and thank all the fans who participated in making the contest such a fun experience and such a resounding success.

- Marco Palmieri
Senior Editor

The three runner-up designs were also shared by Pocket Books. I have not been able to locate the original images, but a deviantART artist, Questionmark, has created models of each design, so you can get a feel for the almost-Titan designs, which were by Phillip Ridings, James Corey Dukes, and Cary L. Brown:

As promised, the winning design did find its way to the cover of the fourth Titan novel, Sword of Damocles. The model used was created by Ellery Connell, while the cover design was done by Cliff Nielsen.

Inside the book, a fold-out set of annotated schematics was also included:

This was just the first appearance of the Titan. More views came in the Star Trek Magazine, with new images in issue one-hundred-and-forty used to illustrate a preview Gods of Night, the first book in the Destiny trilogy, a crossover story featuring the Titan.

Here are the images used in the magzine:

The Titan would again feature on book covers, with the existing images appearing on the cover of Titan: Fallen Gods, and the German editions of crossover series novels Destiny: Lost Souls, and Typhon Pact: Seize the Fire.

A new image, featuring a new model of the Titan by Tobias Richter, formed the cover for The Poisoned Chalice, the Titan book in The Fall crossover series. You can see more of Richter's Titan model, here.

The Titan ebook, Absent Enemies, set shortly after The Fall, also featured a new image of the Titan:

The Titan in print hasn't been restricted to prose tales. The design also made into comic books in the TNG miniseries Hive, illustrated by Joe Corroney:

And the Titan appeared alongside another Trek-lit original design, the Watchtower class starbase from Vanguard, in an image by Tobias Richter in the 2015 Ships of the Line calendar:

Not content to stay on sheets of paper, a six-foot long physical model of the Titan was also created for Star Trek: The Tour in 2008. It featured there as part of video installation featuring Wil Wheaton and Tim Russ, reprising their roles as Wesley Crusher and Tuvok, both apparently serving on the Titan.

The Titan model was later exhibited on its own as part of Star Trek: The Exhibition. (Image via BOGMOL on Flickr)

Finally, for now, the Luna class is also available as a playable ship in the Star Trek Online video game. As is typical of the game, several variant designs also exist, the Polaris, Sol, and Comet classes (images via Star Trek Online Wiki):

For more on the Titan, check out the Titan Shipyards, designer Sean Tourangeau's dedicated website.


  1. Hey, I'm one of the guys who did the "runners up"... and while I'm certainly fond of Sean's final Titan, it was fascinating to see my ship (the third in your list) show up here.

    If you want to see a couple of MY images....

    I worked pretty hard on this, and when I "lost" the contest, I simply renamed my ship, so that it's now a Vega Class Exploratory Cruiser, the USS Achernar. Since I "lost," this means I retain all legal (and copyright) rights to my own work. (I approved our the image work seen on your page, by the way.) So, while you're welcome to post these if you like, please be sure to give me full credit (my name is Cary L. Brown)

    The images above are animated GIF files, and were "works in progress" as I populated the interior of the vessel. Today, it's fully developed... every compartment is there, now. I finished it about a year and a half ago.

    While the animated sections, above, are the most technically interesting... I still prefer this image. It's a reworking of the main "submittal" image I sent in to the book publisher... and was what I HOPED would sell the concept.

    Feel free to post those, if you like, or keep the "fan rendered" version above, if you prefer, but please provide credits.

    I was the "first runner up." The second runner up was James Corey Dukes of West Columbia, SC. The third runner up was Phillip Ridings of Southaven, MS.

    The answer I got from the publisher at S&S at the time was that my design was "too old school" and Sean's design was more in line with their idea for "post-TNG" ships. I was never really fond of Corey's design, but it was certainly interesting (the render above, with the three circular subsections on the primary hull, is inaccurate... his version had big blue domes in each location) And Philip's version was an attempt to transition towards the "Enterprise J" seen in the far-future scene during the TV series "Enterprise."

    Anyway.. not that it's important... but I thought you, since you've taken the time to post this info (which I just stumbled across tonight), might be interested to know a bit more.

    Sean's ship is the Titan... and I like how it eventually turned out. But I still think, sometimes, about what it would be like to see my ship on the screen someday. Can you blame me? :)

  2. Hi Cary, thanks for all that; fascinating to hear some of the background on the other potential Titan designs! Particularly the reasons given by S&S.

    I don't suppose you have what was originally submitted to the contest still? That's what I really want to include in the above article, in place of the fan renderings, to give proper historical context to the Titan.

    1. Sorry I missed your reply for so very long... I never got an email response, and had for some reason been expecting that rather than a response post here. My bad!

      Yes, I still have all my original materials.

      The contest rules required six-view orthogonal "engineering drawings." As an engineer, I know that this means black-and-white line drawings, which is what I provided. It seems most folks provide color renders, though, including Sean. Go figure!

      tlThere seems to be no means of uploading a file here. If you can point me to a way to email you directly, I can provide you with the original PDF line drawing I submitted.

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