The class was likely named after John Whorfin, who was in turn, named after Lord John Whorfin, the leader of the evil Red Lectroid army, who possessed the body of Dr. Emilio Lizardo in the movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension!. Much of the information on the ship's statistics appeared on the computer readout screen on the science officer's console. The okudagram identifies the ships as being of El-Aurian registry.
The Whorfin class was the first starship seen in the Star Trek saga to be exclusively computer-generated, as no physical studio model was built for this design, though strictly speaking that distinction falls to the D'Arsay archive which was a space faring structure rather than a starship. On designing and building the model ILM's Bill George recalled,"The Lakul was actually based on a truck we had designed for Back to the Future that John Knoll liked. I really enjoyed working with Rob Coleman, who was our CG modeler. Designing the basic shape went pretty smoothly; it was a bit brick-shaped, but we added some pontoons to it, which helped a bit. But detailing it became a bit frustrating because I couldn't get my hands on it. Rather than trying to communicate which things should be changed, it was easier for me to make a quickie model the traditional way [read:study model] and set it on Rob's desk. I'd come back two hours later and his CG model would be perfect. I'm encouraged that computers haven't completely taken over. It's becoming obvious that the old and new tools work best together."(American Cinematographer, April 1995, page 84)
The CGI models worked so well in combination with the likewise CGI Nexus effect, such as controlling the interactive light and being able to move the models freely within the phenomena, that visual effects supervisor John Knoll decided to digitize the USSEnterprise-B as well for its scenes within the Nexus.(American Cinematographer, April 1995, page 85)
The CGI was so good that the authors of the captions in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Sketchbook: The Movies mistook the picture of the model on page 17 for a painting.