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Colonel West prepares to detail the operation

For the plan to retake Deep Space 9, please see Operation Return.

Operation Retrieve was the code name of a mission proposed by Starfleet Colonel West upon the arrest of Captain James T. Kirk and Doctor Leonard McCoy for the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon in 2293. It was devised, in light of increasing tensions between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire, to extricate the officers from their captivity by military force.

The operation

The details of the operation involved a direct incursion by several starships launched from Starbase 24 to the penal world of Rura Penthe, well within Klingon territory. The operation was expected to last no more than 24 hours with an acceptable loss to equipment and manpower.

The plan was vetoed by the Federation President as it would have most likely provoked the Klingon Empire into a full scale war. The operation was subsequently proven to be unnecessary, as the USS Enterprise-A entered Klingon space without authorization from Starfleet and retrieved Kirk and McCoy from the planet. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Starships assigned to Operation Retrieve
Name Registry Class
USS Ahwahnee NCC-2048 Constitution-class
USS Eagle NCC-956 Constitution-class
USS Emden NCC-1856 Constitution-class
USS Endeavour NCC-1895 Constitution-class
USS Excelsior NCC-2000 Excelsior-class
USS Potemkin NCC-1657 Constitution-class

Star chart


Background information

Operation Retrieve page four
Starfleet Command
Fleet Operations CenterSol Sector
"Operation Retrieve" Command Briefing
Starship Registry Commander Location
USS Excelsior NCC-2000 H. Sulu Sector 21185
USS Potemkin NCC-1657 D.M. Flinn Sector 21185
USS John Muir NCC-1732 S.C. Jaffe Starbase 24
USS Helin NCC-1692 R. Brookshire Sector 21290
USS Endeavour NCC-1895 D. Wise Sector 22849
USS Eagle NCC-956 K. Garretson Sector 22858
USS Republic NCC-1371 H. Zimmerman Sector 22956
USS Kongo NCC-1710 N. Rodis Sector 21803
USS Whorfin NCC-1024 H. Narita Sector 21399
USS Springfield NCC-1963 D. Bayard Sector 21835
USS Challenger NCC-2032 M. Michaels Sector 21166
USS Constellation NX-1974 G. Cantemessa Sector 23006
USS Scovill NCC-1598 D. Hulett Sector 21837
USS Lantree NCC-1837 K. Glover Sector 22858
USS Oberth NCC-602 R. Morey Sector 22956
USS Emden NCC-1856 C. Thomas Sector 21803
USS Korolev NCC-2014 J. Downer Sector 21399
USS Ahwahnee NCC-2048 D. Tathwell Sector 21835
Starfleet Assets: Sectors 21166-23094 7824.5

The Operation Retrieve briefing material had a fourth page that was never seen on-screen, and is reproduced to the right. [1]

Sector 21166 was identified by name on the star chart "Starfleet Operations – Sector 21166-22079" in 2367. (TNG: "The Mind's Eye")

The mission charts were created by Graphic Designer Michael Okuda, who years later elaborated on the origins of the ship's names and registry numbers:

"If I recall correctly, the charts visible on film/video listed only ship names and registry numbers. One can probably glean some class designations from the ship icons in the diagrams. I don't have the original art handy (I think it's archived on Syquest disks, which I don't have the ability to read, even if I could find the disks themselves), but I recall giving the info to Bjo Trimble, and I'm pretty sure she used most of it in her revised Star Trek Concordance. I might note that some of the ship registry numbers came from Greg Jein's interpretation of the starship chart in Commodore Stone's office in "Shore Leave" (TOS). Other registry numbers came from Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual or his Starship blueprints. In still other cases, the ships and/or numbers did not come from either source, but were consistent with some fleet status charts I did elsewhere [note: the bridge] on the USS Enterprise-A in Star Trek VI. (In other words, there's something that just about everyone will disagree with, but I also hoped that there would be at least something that almost everyone would agree with.) I should also point out that I prepared several charts for the rescue briefing scene, and that not all of them ended up in the final cut of the film. I don't recall which ones were used, or which ones ended up unseen. I do seem to recall that there was at least one chart that had quite a number of registries – mostly, I recall, from FJ's work – that ended up unused." [2]

The names listed in the roster of commanding officers, excepting that of Sulu, were all but one those of production staffers who had been working on The Undiscovered Country at the time. The one exception was of a personal nature, as Okuda included a Captain D. Tathwell, which was the maiden name of his future wife Denise, who, at the time, was the one not yet working for the live-action franchise.

Okuda's remark regarding "Jein's interpretation" concerned the latter's influential "The Case of Jonathan Doe Starship" article which Jein had written years earlier for a fanzine and in which he had postulated a Constitution-class starship registry numbering system. As Okuda has since then strictly adhered to Jein's interpretation, it was a stark indication that he had only became aware of Jein's article during the time he was working on The Undiscovered Country. At the time, Jein had by then become the regular studio model vendor for Star Trek: The Next Generation, befriending Okuda, and was cooperating with him (as was his future wife Denise) on his reference work, Star Trek Chronology, which was concurrently in development. Strictly adhering to Jein's article from then on for those registries Okuda had not yet used at that point in time, this became the very last recorded use of Franz Joseph's Manual as a production source.

Enterprise-A diagram, originally part of the briefing charts, used elsewhere in the film ultimately

The Operation Retrieve Command Briefing charts were after the production of The Undiscovered Country discarded, saved by Penny Juday, ending up in the collection of American collector Sean, and who ultimately restored the damaged sheets. [3] It is through his efforts that the detail information as featured in this entry has become available.

Incidentally, it was also established in collector Sean's posting on website that the Enterprise-A diagram Scotty was reading elsewhere in the film (in the process providing the first firm visual confirmation that the Enterprise and her kin had always been Constitution-class), was originally intended to be the last sheet of the Operation Retrieve charts – and thus created by Mike Okuda as well.

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