The Fleet in PIC: "Vox" and "The Last Generation"
by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider
In PIC: "Vox", on Frontier Day 2401, Starfleet assembles a huge fleet in Earth's orbit, consisting of its most advanced starships. The goal is demonstrate the new "fleet formation mode", which allows to link all ships together in order to perform highly synchronized maneuvers. The fleet is led by the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-F under the command of Admiral Shelby. The demonstration, however, becomes a disaster as the Borg activate the genetic manipulations in all younger crew members, who begin to kill their superiors, starting with Shelby. Under the control of the Borg, the connected fleet begins to fire at the Spacedock. Only when the unaffected Enterprise-D destroys the Borg cube with the beacon in PIC: "The Last Generation", the assimilated crew members are returned to normal, and the attack is halted - but not after catastrophic toll of death and destruction has been inflicted on Starfleet.
This article summarizes everything we know on the fleet on the whole, on the classes and on the individual ships.
Screen Cap Analysis
In PIC: "Vox", a large display in sickbay of the assembling fleet in Earth's orbit shows quite a few ship names and registries for our list. It then changes into a live view of the scene, and as the labels fade we can see the exteriors of the corresponding starships. We can barely recognize any ships, but the USS ibn Al-Haytham NCC-91965 on the upper right and USS Sutherland NCC-91800 on the lower left are identifiable as Sutherland class, as well as the USS Huygens NCC-91814 a bit later. We will see in the further course of this article that not all ships visible on screens and in space at the beginning of "Vox" are necessarily part of the later fleet formation. At this point, the ships are still more or less randomly distributed (although, depending on the angle, this impression may be deceptive).
The Enterprise-F leaves the Spacedock (shot #1). Admiral Shelby gives her address, as the ships begin to move and assume their assigned positions for the activation of the fleet formation mode (shots #2, #3, #4).
The Titan-A arrives, and Picard warns Shelby about the imminent danger. But it is too late. As the Borg activate the beacon on the cube hidden in the gaseous layers of Jupiter, the younger crew members on all ships, whose DNA was altered through manipulated transporters, turn against their superiors. Admiral Shelby is killed, just as countless other senior officers. The older crew members of the Excelsior manage to retake the bridge, upon which the fleet opens fire and destroys the ship. This happens off-screen; we can only see on a screen that the Excelsior must have been close to the Titan-A at the time. A little later the Titan-A is forced into the formation (#5), which now has a different purpose, to attack the Spacedock (#6) and take down the shield grid of Earth.
The formation consists of one central 1st squad (with the Enterprise-F and several other ships) and two wings, each of which contains five more quads. The arrangement is largely symmetrical, with each left squad containing the same number of starships of the same classes in the same positions as the corresponding one on the opposite wing. We refer to the central squad with the Enterprise-F as the 1st squad. The other groups are numbered as 2nd to 6th squads from the center to the periphery, on both the left and the right wing in flight direction. It is possible to identify all 17 classes of the 339 vessels (see Summary of the Fleet for the details). The starships of the 1st squad, which is shown most often and most prominently, are additionally known by their names. The Titan-A likely assumes the position that was meant for the Excelsior. The latter almost definitely has to be in the 1st squad, considering that the rest of the fleet is symmetrical as the ship classes are concerned.
The arrangement of ships remains the same throughout the two episodes "Vox" and "The Last Generation". There a few small exceptions in the final fleet shot from "Vox" that shows how the ships prepare to attack the Spacedock, followed by a zoom-out that serves to emphasize the hopelessness of the situation for the Spacedock (shots #7, #8, #9, #10).
A few of the many Sovereign-class vessels that would have visible in the close view at the beginning of the zoom-out have changed places with other classes, perhaps to add more diversity to the fleet. More precisely, a Gagarin class was brought to the front in the 2nd squad left, as well as a Pathfinder and an Alita in the 2nd squad right, all replacing Sovereign classes. The most notable change is the swapping of the Sovereign-class USS Jaresh-Inyo in the 1st squad with the Gagarin-class USS Gotana-Retz, just in front of the Enterprise-F. All other shots, the ones seen earlier in "Vox" as well as all ones from "The Last Generation", show a configuration with the four Sovereign classes in the more prominent positions.
The 2nd and the 3rd squad left and right each have a diamond formation of four Defiant classes on top. But these four ships are not visible in some squads in some of the shots. More changes result from the Titan-A breaking the formation and from some ships that remain adrift at the end of "The Last Generation".
PIC: The Last Generation
In "The Last Generation", there is one view of almost the complete fleet from the opposite direction (shot #1). As mentioned, the arrangement is the same again as before the dramatic zoom-out in "Vox".
Also in final episode, there are close shots of the 3rd squad left (#3) and of the 4th squad left (#4) attacking the Spacedock, as well of the 1st squad in the aftermath (#5). The fleet is in disarray now, but against our expectations the 1st squad has remained completely intact. Every single ship is still or again in the position that it was when the Borg took over, and even the Titan-A returns to its previous place.
The USS Gregory Jein only appears in the aftermath of the disaster and was identified by Dave Blass.
Summary of the Fleet
All ship classes in the fleet and their numbers are known, but the identification of the individual ships is incomplete. As already mentioned, we know the names and registries of the 1st squad, which were provided by the production crew. It is uncertain whether the rest of the fleet is individually numbered.
Several more names are visible on viewscreens that show how the fleet assembles and that are visible on various occasions in "Vox", in sickbay, on the bridge and in the turbolift, starting briefly before the Enterprise-F appears and ending with the close-up of the destruction of the Excelsior. As already mentioned, the large screen in sickbay that changes into a live view reveals that at least some of the labels are represented by the actual CG models of the classes, most notably three Sutherland-class vessels.
Although the rest of the screens do not include the according information, we know the classes of those vessels as well, either because these were previously established or thanks to social media posts by Dave Blass and the production crew. Well, some of them such as the Luna-class ships with their consecutive numbers and names for moons in the Sol system are obvious anyway. What we don't know is where exactly these individual ships are located because the screens don't reproduce the fleet formation.
Actually, some of the vessels listed in "Vox" don't reappear at all once the fleet formation is in place:
- There are four ships on the viewscreen, which are known as Sutherland class from season 2: USS Almagest NCC-91870, USS ibn Al-Haytham NCC-91965, USS Huygens NCC-91814 and USS Sutherland NCC-91800. The latter three are also identifiable in the live view. They are present at the beginning, but no ships of this class are visible at all in the later fleet formation.
- The same applies to the USS Intrepid NCC-79520 and the USS Trumbull NCC-72370, which were established as Duderstadt-class ships in PIC: "Imposters" and earlier in "Vox", respectively. They can both be identified on the screen as the Excelsior is being destroyed with their support. So at least the crews have been assimilated. But Duderstadt-class ships are not in the fleet formation.
- The USS Appalachia NCC-52136 too appears in the overview. The Appalachia is established as a Steamrunner class as long as since "Star Trek: First Contact". No Steamrunner can be seen in the fleet formation.
The following table summarizes all appearances of named starships in "Vox" and "The Last Generation" and indicates if and where they are visible in the fleet. The classes of ships that are part of the formation but without a definite squad were either confirmed by Dave Blass or they were already known prior to the episode. Regarding the column "Formation", we currently assume that individual ships, if they belong to a class that can be seen in the formation, are actually part of the formation.
|USS Almagest||NCC-91870||Sutherland||Class not in formation|
|USS Appalachia||NCC-52136||Steamrunner||Class not in formation|
|USS Excelsior||NCC-42037||Excelsior II||Destroyed beforehand|
|USS Gotana-Retz||NCC-97951||Gagarin||x||1 (temporary)|
|USS Gregory Jein||NCC-103145||Jein||Purportedly visible in the aftermath|
|USS Hikaru Sulu||NCC-92420||Odyssey||x|
|USS Huygens||NCC-91814||Sutherland||Class not in formation|
|USS Ibn al-Haytham||NCC-91965||Sutherland||Class not in formation|
|USS Intrepid||NCC-79520||Duderstadt||Class not in formation|
|USS Jaresh-Inyo||NCC-75020||Sovereign||x||1 (regular)|
|USS John Kelly||NCC-97944||Gagarin||x|
|USS Pulaski||Mentioned in dialogue|
|USS Sutherland||NCC-91800||Sutherland||Class not in formation|
|USS Titan||NCC-80102-A||Constitution III||x||1 (unscheduled)|
|USS Trumbull||NCC-72370||Duderstadt||Class not in formation|
|USS Yi Sun-Sin||NCC-76545||Ross||x|
|USS Zheng He||NCC-86505||Inquiry||x|
|All named Starfleet||All: 82||Formation: 73|
As mentioned in the screen cap analysis, it is possible to identify all ship classes in the fleet formation. The following table provides an overview of the all classes that are present during the catastrophe in some fashion.
|New design PIC S3||1||1||Only the Titan-A in the formation, and unplanned|
|New design PIC S3||(2)||(2)||Class not in formation|
|New design PIC S3||13||3|
|New design PIC S2||16||(1)||Destroyed USS Excelsior not included|
|New design PIC S1||22||7|
|New design PIC S3||(1)||(1)||Class not in formation|
|Beta canon & LOW||36||16|
|New design PIC S2||14||4|
|Classic canon||(1)||(1)||Class not in formation|
|ST Online||(4)||(4)||Class not in formation|
|All Starfleet||339||73||Only fleet formation|
It is noteworthy that all ship classes are visible again that already appeared in season 2, minus the Sutherland. The other notable absence from the fleet is the new Duderstadt class.
New ship classes in the fleet are Alita, Edison, Odyssey, Pathfinder (all from Star Trek Online), Constitution III, Echelon (both newly designed), plus the unrecognizable Jein class that only appears in the aftermath.
Images of most of the involved starships, mostly rendered by Keene Sin, were posted in social media. Here are the ones that are presumably in the fleet formation.
Not in formation
These are the pictures of the ships that are otherwise present in some fashion.
Thanks to Dave Blass, Keene Sin, Sean Tourangeau and other artists for posting additional pictures and information on Twitter and Instagram. The promotional ship charts with CG views and other information were compiled by Geoffrey Mandel.