Aqua-shuttles were multipurpose vessels that were designed for traveling through space; through a planetary atmosphere; transporting across water, like a boat; and as well, were submersible, like a submarine. These vessels were also lightly armed with dual forward phaser emitters, as well as an aft emitter, which were powered by an internal power pack. (TAS: "The Ambergris Element")
The Aqua-shuttle was described in the first draft of the script for "The Ambergris Element" as being "shaped like a gleaming projectile; its cockpit rises slightly above the mid-section of the projectile and is encased in a thick, transparent material, which gives its occupants a view in all directions."
Furthermore, "The Interior is compact and sturdy. There is an instrument panel, a built-in tricorder, even a small scanner. The party straps themselves into "indentation seats" which are built into the bulkhead of the shuttle. They fit the human body perfectly, and offer complete support and protections during activation and landing."
A fair amount of information, with regard to the introduction of the aqua-shuttle, went into the dialogue in this first draft of the script, that was ultimately cut from the final draft, and read as follows:
- Scott: "But this Aqua-shuttle looks like a mighty flimsy contraption. I hope they've worked all the bugs out of it."
- McCoy: "What's the matter, Scotty? Don't you trust Starfleet Command?"
- Kirk: "They're recommending Aqua-shuttles for all Star Ships. Their test record is perfect."
- Scott: "The hull reminds me of a Martian vapor-bubble."
- Spock: "My examinations show no resemblance to vapor bubbles, Mr. Scott. The craft seems well suited to both space and water travel."