She was the second Federation ship to proudly bear the name U.S.S Enterprise. She was nearly identical, externally, to the U.S.S. Enterprise refit. She was the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-A, commissioned in 2286 at the San Francisco Fleet Yards. The ship was called into action – with James T. Kirk in command following his demotion from admiral to captain -- while still undergoing repairs following a less-than-successful shakedown cruise and was soon after commandeered by Sybok, a Vulcan zealot. Sybok led the ship to Sha Ka Ree, a planet beyond the Great Barrier that was supposedly home to God. Kirk and crew eventually regained control of the Enterprise-A with help from an unlikely ally, Klingon Ambassador Kordd.
By the 2290s, the Enterprise-A had been outfitted to join a handful of other Starfleet ships in investigating gaseous planetary anomalies. Then, in 2293, the ship was poised to be retired – along with most of her crew – when Kirk and company were ordered to escort Klingon Chancellor Gorkon to Earth for the earliest stages of the Khitomer Accords negotiations. The negotiations were nearly derailed by a conspiracy between Romulan, Klingon and Starfleet figures, among them Lt. Valeris of the Enterprise, that left Gorkon dead and Kirk and McCoy framed for his death and imprisoned. However, Spock defied orders, leading the Enterprise on a mission to save Kirk and McCoy.
Later, once Valeris and the conspiracy plot had been exposed, Klingon General Chang and his Bird-of-Prey still stood between the Enterprise and reaching the Khitomer Conference in time to prevent the assassination of Gorkon’s daughter, and newly installed Chancellor, Azetbur. The Bird-of-Prey, which could fire while cloaked, attacked the Enterprise and then also the Excelsior, which was under the command of Captain Sulu. Thinking on their feet, the Enterprise crew rejiggered the new equipment that had been installed for investigating gaseous planetary anomalies and used it to locate the cloaked Bird-of-Prey. The Enterprise and Excelsior destroyed the Bird-of-Prey and raced to Khitomer, where they successfully thwarted the assassination attempt. Starfleet Command then recalled the Enterprise-A so it could be finally be decommissioned, but Kirk couldn’t resist taking the ship out for one last mission.
StarTrek.com's look at the USS Enterprise-A continues our ongoing celebration of the Ships of the Line, which will carry on from now until the end of the year. The latest in the bestselling Ships of the Line calendar series is available now; visit www.Amazon.com to purchase the 2015 Ships of the Line calendar. And if you're an artist or designer, be sure to enter the Ships of the Line Design Contest, under way now, for a chance to have your art featured in the 2016 Ships of the Line calendar. Click HERE to enter.