Miranda Class Variations

by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider

The USS Reliant was the first Starfleet ship besides the original USS Enterprise ever designed for a canon Star Trek production. A large-scale studio miniature was built and famously appeared in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan". This model was redressed three times for appearances as other starship types. After a phase in which Reliant-based AMT model kits and kitbashes were used for fleet scenes on DS9, eventually a detailed CG model was built and could be seen in a large number of Dominion War episodes.

Our article identifies all variations of this very often seen Starfleet class, tracks the modifications to the studio model and investigates every single appearance of the Miranda class and closely related classes on screen in no less than 31 episodes and movies.

 

Miranda & Soyuz Sub-Classes

In-universe, we can distinguish the following starship types based on the model differences, in accordance with the nomenclature in the EAS Starfleet Database:

Whereas "Soyuz class" was spoken out in TNG: "Cause and Effect", there is no mention of "Miranda class" in dialogue. The class name isn't identifiable on displays or on signage in episodes either but is consistently used in all official publications, including all editions of the Star Trek Encyclopedia. We may posit that the Miranda-based kitbash labeled "USS Antares NCC-9844" is the first ship of the Antares class, based on its low registry and to refute speculation that Starfleet might share ship designs with aliens across the galaxy.

The Miranda II, Miranda III, Soyuz and Antares each appeared in only one single episode (or in stock footage from that episode). On all other of the numerous occasions we could see Miranda I ships with a "rollbar" just like the Reliant. As the physical miniature and the CG model are concerned, the latter is a faithful reproduction of the former. In-universe, we discount the differences regarding the lighting of the models, although we will discuss them when going through all the single appearances.

The Miranda design was at least 80 years old when the Lantree appeared as an accordingly outdated transport in TNG: "Unnatural Selection". The closely related Soyuz class was even retired more than 80 years prior to TNG: "Cause and Effect" (which we might explain by it being a specialized surveillance vessel). Yet, the Miranda has a revival in the following decade, with dozens of such ships taking part in major fleet operations as seen on DS9. We may muse that after the defeat at Wolf 359 and in the dawn of the Dominion War, many of the old Miranda-class ships were needed again and were pulled out of the mothballs. In fact, we could see two of them pretty intact in the surplus depot in "Unification I".

 

Model History

In the script of "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan", the USS Reliant was originally a Constitution-class starship just like the Enterprise, with an only "slightly different configuration":

In f.g. is the U.S.S. RELIANT, an older, somewhat battered starship of the ENTERPRISE class, with a slightly different configuration.

But then it was decided to go for a new design, one reason being that the audience would have difficulties telling apart the two ships during the Batlle in the Mutara Nebula.

Art director Joe Jennings: "In the dogfight you had to instantly recognize which ship you were looking at, so they had to look different. At the same time, you had to make them look like they came from the same culture and had the same technology."

The Miranda class was designed by Joe Jennings, Mike Minor and Lee Cole. On the original design sketch they sent to producer Harve Bennett for approval, the nacelles were located above the saucer hull and two torpedo pods below it. Harve Bennett, however, turned the drawing upside down and signed it that way (either by mistake or because he liked it that way). The design was reworked to keep the inverted orientation as approved by Bennett, and the famous rollbar was added, now with only one torpedo pod.

The studio model was then built at ILM under supervising modelmaker Steve Gawley. The design of the Reliant is composed of a similar saucer and practically identical nacelles as the Enterprise. Yet, the heavy and complex Enterprise studio miniature was notorious for being hard to handle. It was decided to build the Reliant at three quarters the scale of the Enterprise and with simplified internal wiring.

The first re-use of the model was in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home". Only the hull labels were changed for the USS Saratoga. The actual registry of the Saratoga is NCC-1887 and can be clearly seen in Drex TV episode 4, unlike anything ever stated before.

A modified Miranda model appeared in TNG: "Unnatural Selection". As Gary Hutzel explained in Drex TV episode 4, it was not intended to remove the rollbar. However, the team didn't get its lighting to work when they prepared the model for shooting, and decided that the ship would still look good without it, thereby "inventing" the Miranda II sub-class. The registry of the Lantree is NCC-1837, which is easy to accomplish by just removing or overpainting parts of the second "8" in NCC-1887.

The rollbar was re-attached for the appearance as USS Brattain in TNG: "Night Terrors". The model was mislabeled "USS Brittain", however.

The first extensive modification to the model was made for TNG: "Cause and Effect", whose script called for an old ship of the Soyuz class to emerge from an anomaly.

A STARSHIP EMERGES from the murk -- HEADED DIRECTLY FOR US. (Note: It's clearly an older style starship.)

The option to build a TOS-style ship for that purpose was considered too costly, so Michael Okuda came up with a way to use the existing Miranda miniature and add some easy to remove parts, such as an extended aft section and a number of weapon or sensor pods. Although it was not included on Okuda's design sketch, the bridge module was changed as well, to a TOS-Enterprise-like version with a single non-centered turbolift.

Michael Okuda: "It was originally hoped that a new design could be developed for the Soyuz-class U.S.S. Bozeman, but practical considerations dictated the reworking of the existing Miranda-class U.S.S. Reliant model originally built for 'Star Trek II'. The modifications were designed by Greg Jein and Mike Okuda. The class was named for the Russian spacecraft that shuttled cosmonauts up to the Salyut and Mir space stations."

Okuda modified plans from the fan-made Ships of the Star Fleet, so the name and registry on his sketch have no further relevance.

The model was modified once more for its appearance as Sisko's USS Saratoga in the DS9 pilot episode "Emissary". The rollbar was removed and extra sensor pods were affixed to both sides of the saucer, distinguishing this ship from the Lantree.

For "Star Trek Generations", the miniature was returned to its original configuration and filmed one last time. Since the script did not call for a specific name and it was hoped it would not be legible, the model kept its lettering as "USS Saratoga" on the saucer hull and "USS Brittain" on the rollbar. This is how the model still looks today.

All newer footage of the Miranda class is CGI, with the exception of the AMT/Ertl models that were filmed for some season 4 and 5 episodes of DS9, starting with DS9: "The Way of the Warrior".

 

Appearances

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The Miranda class first and most famously appears as the USS Reliant in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan". We can see the large-scale studio model most of the time, including several close-ups.

The Reliant possesses a "rollbar" with a torpedo launcher, like almost all later ships of the Miranda class. However, the torpedo launcher never lights up in the movie. Just as on the Enterprise, the Reliant's warp nacelles are not illuminated, and there are no red Bussard collectors either. At the rear end of the ship we can see two blue illuminated shuttlebays and two impulse engines in red. On the rear underside there is a round structure on the hull, in the middle of which a bright point shines. The round surface itself does not glow on the Reliant.

For forced perspective shots of the Enterprise with the Reliant at a distance, a smaller model was built, using parts from an AMT Enterprise model kit.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

"Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" shows us two ships of the Miranda class. The USS Saratoga can be briefly seen, the warp nacelles are unlit. It cannot be identified whether the other areas discussed above are illuminated on the model. The other, unnamed Miranda-class ship is located inside in spacedock. Neither warp nacelles nor impulse drives are illuminated. The two shuttle hangars are blue as on the Reliant.

TNG: Unnatural Selection

For the first time in TNG, a Miranda-class ship appears in "Unnatural Selection", the USS Lantree. As already mentioned, the Lantree is missing the rollbar with the torpedo launcher for technical reasons. Otherwise the model is unchanged. The warp nacelles are not lit and the two shuttlebays are blue. The impulse drive glows red, although the Lantree has been adrift in space for some time.

TNG: Night Terrors

The next appearance is as the USS Brattain in TNG: "Night Terrors". The illumination corresponds with the one of the Reliant on all accounts, with unlit nacelles, blue shuttlebays and, although the ship is motionless in space, red impulse engines.

The misspelled name "USS Brittain" can be read in a close-up. It wasn't fixed for the remastered episode.

TNG: Unification I

Two decommissioned Miranda-class ships can be seen at the Qualor II Surplus Depot in TNG: "Unification I". It is the large-scale model in the exact same configuration as the Reliant. The ships are powered down and accordingly completely dark.

TNG: Cause and Effect

For this episode, the model was extensively rebuilt to serve as the USS Bozeman of the Soyuz class. The rollbar was removed, and an extended aft section with weapon or sensor pods was attached. New pods were also added to either side of the saucer and to the lower sensor dome of the saucer. If we compare the close-up of the saucer with the corresponding shot of the Brattain, we can very clearly recognize that the Bozeman has a more simplistic and TOS-like bridge module.

The warp nacelles are still unlit. The former impulse engines are now covered by the new hull part, and the ship does not seem to have any impulse engines at all (or they are inactive for some reason). The two shuttle hangars are not affected by the modifications and glow blue (but rather pale).

DS9: Emissary

For DS9: "Emissary", the model was converted to the Miranda III sub-class. The Saratoga is the third and last variant without the rollbar. Other than that, all changes for the Soyuz were reverted. The Saratoga has two new weapon or sensor pods with red tips on either side of the saucer hull. As always so far, the warp nacelles are unlit, the shuttlebays are blue and the impulse engines are red. The latter red light is gone when we look back at the ship from Sisko's escape pod - a logical consequence of the Borg attack.

The explosion of the Saratoga was filmed with a break-away model, built from full-scale moulds of the studio model.

If we discount the hardly identifiable USS Antares, this is the last appearance of any modification of the Miranda class. All future episodes show the original Reliant design with the rollbar.

Star Trek Generations

For the appearance in the movie "Star Trek Generations", the ship was returned to its original condition. There are no noticeable differences to the Reliant. If we try hard, we can guess that the registry is still the one of the Saratoga, NCC-31911.

The large Miranda studio model was retired after this shoot.

DS9: The Way of the Warrior

A Miranda-class ship can be seen arriving at Deep Space 9, the USS Trial. This is a shot of an AMT/Ertl model kit. The DS9 production did not yet use CGI on a regular basis, and preparing the large-scale model was probably deemed too much of an effort. In order to label the model, the decal "RELIANT" was simply rearranged to "TRIAL" and "1864" to "1948".

Although on the model photo the kit is assembled correctly, we can see on the screen cap that the rollbar of the Trial is mounted backwards. The torpedo pod is wider at the front here. Perhaps the top part of the rollbar, which consists of the "wing", the pod and the two phaser cannons, broke off at some point and was glued on backwards by someone who didn't know the model so well.

Star Trek: First Contact

There are two ships of the Miranda class in "First Contact", which are the first CG models, built by ILM. The warp nacelles are still unlit, but we can now find a green-turquoise illuminated circle at the bottom of the ship. This circle was already lit on the top in "Star Trek II", but not yet on the bottom. On the CG model, the latter can be seen for the first time.

VOY: Unity

The flashback of a Miranda-class ship attacking a Borg cube is just stock footage of the USS Saratoga from DS9: "Emissary".

DS9: By Inferno's Light

It is difficult to tell whether the small Miranda-class ships in "By Inferno's Light" are still the small physical model or already CGI (probably the former). In any case, the nacelles are still unlit here, setting these Mirandas apart from the later ones in the series.

DS9: Doctor Bashir, I Presume

This episode just shows stock footage of the USS Trial from DS9: "The Way of the Warrior".

DS9: Call to Arms

David Stipes says he used the small kit-based physical models to shoot groups of Miranda-class vessels for this episode. Besides the already known USS Trial from "The Way of the Warrior", two more were purportedly labeled "NCC-4186" and "NCC-9481". The scenes of the ships around Starbase 375 that would appear in the few next episodes are also composed of these takes of the three small Miranda models.

For the first time, the warp nacelles are illuminated in "Call to Arms". However, there are neither red Bussard collectors yet, nor the green circle from "Star Trek: First Contact". If these are still physical models, rather than CGI, the light may have been added in post production, a technique that was quite common at the time and was used for the infamous DS9TM kitbashes as well.

DS9: A Time to Stand

"A Time to Stand" purportedly too shows the small physical models. We can hardly recognize anything, but the nacelles are illuminated again.

DS9: Behind the Lines

This episode features several different shots of ships of the Miranda class circling the station, all filmed with the small miniatures according to David Stipes. The nacelles are blue again, and if we try hard we can recognize red Bussard collectors for the first time, at least on the last screen cap.

DS9: Favor the Bold

"Favor the Bold" shows stock footage of the fleet at Starbase 375 and later new shots of the "Operation Return" fleet in motion, including the Miranda class. The latter are the first to use the refined CG model by Digital Muse.

None of the ships in the new shots appears to have a blue shuttlebay, all of them possess blue nacelles but no red Bussard collectors. Curiously, on one shot the aft torpedo launcher is red, just as if it were a second set of impulse engines. The ships have an illuminated circle on the aft underside, but not as big as in "First Contact" and faint bluish here. We can also see that the lower sensor dome on the very bottom of the saucer section is blue-green for the first time, as will be seen much better on the almost-hero ship Majestic in the following episode.

The episode "Favor the Bold" does not only show several Miranda-class ships but also a kitbash based on the same AMT/Ertl Reliant kit. We can see four of these ships in one shot of Starbase 375, on the upper right. The model is labeled "USS Antares NCC-9844" and features an extra pod instead of the rollbar, made from an AMT Excelsior display stand. It was built by Adam Buckner. It is designed to be filmed from below, hence the hole in the bridge. This is the first and last time we know of that this model was visible.

DS9: Sacrifice of Angels

"Sacrifice of Angels" is the first episode that exclusively shows the high-resolution CG Miranda by Digital Muse (except for the stock footage at the end). We can see the aforementioned Miranda with the red torpedo tubes again, but also one with a regular dark launcher in the very same shot. The shuttlebays are still unlit.

Two of the Miranda-class ships in "Sacrifice of Angels" are known by name and can be seen up close, flanking the Defiant: the USS Sitak and the USS Majestic. The two ships get destroyed in that order. This gives us the best look at the CG Miranda in any episode, including the blue warp nacelles and brownish Bussard collectors. Although the blue of the warp nacelles sometimes appears unnaturally dark, depending on the the angle, it does not look in any shot like the collectors actively emit light too.

The final shot of a Miranda class in the episode is only stock footage of the USS Trial from DS9: "The Way of the Warrior".

DS9: You Are Cordially Invited

"You Are Cordially Invited" gives us new shots with the CG model at Deep Space 9. The warp nacelles are blue, the Bussard collectors are not illuminated here. One particular take from this episode can be seen again and again, namely in "The Reckoning", "Afterimage", "Treachery, Faith and the Great River", "Strange Bedfellows" and "Tacking Into the Wind". Some of the elements would be removed for the later episodes, but the Miranda next to the pylon is in every later shot.

DS9: The Magnificent Ferengi

The appearance in "The Magnificent Ferengi" consists of stock footage from "Behind the Lines".

DS9: The Reckoning

This episode just shows stock footage from DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited".

DS9: Tears of the Prophets

The season 6 finale shows several new shots of the Miranda class, all made with the CG model. We can see the odd Miranda with the red torpedo launchers and without shuttlebay illumination again, but also ships with regular launchers and blue shuttlebays. They all have blue nacelles.

Two of the ships that invade the Chin'toka system are known by name and can be seen somewhat better: the USS ShirKahr that is quickly destroyed and the USS Nautilus that takes part in the attack run on the power generator. Both have the same details as the Sitak and Majestic from "Sacrifice of Angels". The Bussard collectors are clearly unlit.

DS9: Afterimage

This episode just shows stock footage from DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited".

DS9: Treachery, Faith and the Great River

This episode just shows stock footage from DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited".

DS9: Strange Bedfellows

This episode just shows stock footage from DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited".

DS9: The Changing Face of Evil

New footage shows the CG Miranda with blue warp nacelles and without red Bussard collectors.

DS9: Tacking Into the Wind

This episode just shows stock footage from DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited".

DS9: What You Leave Behind

The DS9 series finale unfortunately uses lots of stock footage in its battle scenes. We can see the Miranda class in shots that were originally created for "Tears of the Prophets", "Sacrifice of Angels" and "The Changing Face of Evil".

VOY: Endgame

It is hard to recognize the Miranda class in the Voyager series finale. At least, we can tell that the warp engines are still blue.

This would remain the last appearance of a Miranda class in an official Trek production for over 18 years.

SHO: Ephraim and Dot

The USS Reliant ("Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan") can be briefly seen in the Short Treks episode "Ephraim and Dot", with blue nacelles. Discounting simplifications due to the animation, the appearance otherwise matches the original and was not "visually rebooted", like the movie Enterprise and unlike the series Enterprise in the same Short Trek. Embarrassingly, however, the Enterprise NCC-1701 is mislabeled as "NCC-1701-A" in this take as well as during its destruction sequence ("Star Trek III: The Search for Spock").

LOW: Strange Energies

A Miranda-class ship named USS MacDuff can be seen in the Lower Decks season 2 episode "Strange Energies". It has more windows in the saucer section, only two rows of windows in the angular superstructure instead of three and a couple of detail changes on the aft sensor platform and the phaser cannons. We may want to classify this ship as yet another variant. Then again, it is just a holographic simulation and may come with some inaccuracies. The Bussard collectors are red again and the nacelles are blue.

 

Summary

Here is a table with all versions and all appearances of the Miranda class, Soyuz class and Antares class in chronological order. The ships showed up in a total of 31 films or episodes. In many episodes we can see more than one ship, so this list has several more entries than that.

Ship type Episode or Movie Name Model Stock footage

Miranda I
"Star Trek II" USS Reliant NCC-1864 Original full-scale miniature; some shots with smaller battle-damaged model -
"Star Trek IV" USS Saratoga NCC-1887 Full-scale miniature, relabeled -
Unnamed ship in spacedock -

Miranda II
TNG: "Unnatural Selection" USS Lantree NCC-1837 Full-scale miniature, no rollbar, relabeled -

Miranda I
TNG: "Night Terrors" USS Brattain NCC-21166 Full-scale miniature, rollbar re-attached, mislabeled -
TNG: "Unification I" 2 unnamed Full-scale miniature, rollbar re-attached -

Soyuz
TNG: "Cause and Effect" USS Bozeman NCC-1941 Full-scale miniature, no rollbar, with extensions, relabeled -

Miranda III
DS9: "Emissary" USS Saratoga NCC-31911 Full-scale miniature, no rollbar, with extensions, relabeled; destruction filmed with break-away model -

Miranda I
"Star Trek Generations" Unnamed Full-scale miniature, rollbar re-attached -
DS9: "The Way of the Warrior" USS Trial NCC-1948 AMT/Ertl model -
"Star Trek: First Contact" Various unnamed CG model -

Miranda III
VOY: "Unity" USS Saratoga NCC-31911 Full-scale miniature, no rollbar, with extensions, relabeled All from "Emissary"

Miranda I
DS9: "By Inferno's Light" Various unnamed AMT/Ertl model or (less likely) CG model -
DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" USS Trial NCC-1948 AMT/Ertl model All from "The Way of the Warrior"
DS9: "Call to Arms" Various unnamed AMT/Ertl model recomposited or (less likely) CG model -
DS9: "A Time to Stand" Various unnamed -
DS9: "Behind the Lines" Various unnamed -
DS9: "Favor the Bold" Various unnamed Partially from "Behind the Lines"

Antares
USS Antares NCC-9844 (4x) AMT/Ertl kitbash -

Miranda I
DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels" Various unnamed CG model -
USS Sitak NCC-32591 -
USS Majestic NCC-31060 -
USS Trial NCC-1948 AMT/Ertl model One take from "The Way of the Warrior"
DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited" Various unnamed CG model -
DS9: "The Magnificent Ferengi" Various unnamed All from "Behind the Lines"
DS9: "The Reckoning" Various unnamed All from "You Are Cordially Invited"
DS9: "Tears of the Prophets" Various unnamed -
USS ShirKahr NCC-31905 -
USS Nautilus NCC-31910 -
DS9: "Afterimage" Various unnamed All from "You Are Cordially Invited"
DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" Various unnamed All from "You Are Cordially Invited"
DS9: "Strange Bedfellows" Various unnamed All from "You Are Cordially Invited"
DS9: "The Changing Face of Evil" Various unnamed -
DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind" Various unnamed All from "You Are Cordially Invited"
DS9: "What You Leave Behind" Various unnamed From "Tears of the Prophets", "Sacrifice of Angels", "The Changing Face of Evil"
VOY: "Endgame" Various unnamed -
SHO: "Ephraim and Dot" USS Reliant NCC-1864 Animated -
LOW: "Strange Energies" USS MacDuff NCC-1877 (simulation) Animated, some detail changes -

 

Addendum

Sisko's Saratoga model

Sisko's model of the Saratoga with all the according modifications to the stock kit of the Reliant can be seen in his office in several DS9 episodes, including "The Nagus", "Battle Lines", "Dramatis Personae", "The Homecoming", "In the Cards", "The Reckoning" and "'Til Death Do Us Part".

More Miranda variants

Two more kitbashes were built for DS9 based on the AMT/Ertl Reliant kit: the USS Bradford and the USS Trieste. These two ships, however, probably didn't make it to the screen.

 

See Also

Starfleet Ship Classes L-Z

Starship Gallery - Miranda

 

Credits

Some screen caps from TrekCore and Ariane's Star Trek Gallery. Some model information from Memory Alpha. Thanks to Micah Haber for annotations about the Lower Decks Miranda and to Coelian for the hint about the rollbar of the Trial.

 


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