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"What's Grissom up to? Will they join us, or fire on us?"

The USS Grissom (NCC-638) was a 23rd century Federation Oberth-class starship operated by Starfleet. In 2285, this science vessel was under the command of Captain J.T. Esteban.

In that year, the Grissom transported Lieutenant Saavik and David Marcus to the Genesis Planet in order to conduct scientific studies on the newly formed world. While in orbit, however, they discovered the photon torpedo in which Captain Spock's body had been ejected from the USS Enterprise. In addition, sensors registered an animal lifeform on the surface, something previously thought to be impossible. Electing to investigate further, Saavik and David beamed down to the planet's surface while the Grissom monitored their progress.

While Saavik and David were on the surface, however, the Grissom came under attack by a Klingon Bird-of-Prey commanded by Kruge, a Klingon commander intent on exploiting the Genesis technology as a weapon. Although it was Kruge's intention to simply disable the Grissom so that he might take prisoners, the ship was completely destroyed, in what his gunner described as "a lucky shot." The gunner was summarily executed by Kruge immediately. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

In 2286, Ambassador Sarek mentioned the destruction of the Grissom to his Klingon colleague the Klingon Ambassador who had accused the Federation of creating Project Genesis for use as a base to annihilate the Klingon race. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)



Background information

In the first draft script of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, this starship was named "USS Valiant". The name eventually chosen for this craft was in memory of Mercury astronaut Virgil Grissom, who was killed in the tragic Apollo 1 fire at Cape Kennedy in 1967. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - Handbook of Production Information; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) DVD: "Space Docks and Birds of Prey"-special feature & text commentary; Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 1, p. 319))

The model of the Grissom is now part of collections. [1]


A later, Excelsior-class USS Grissom was featured in the Star Trek: New Frontier novel Once Burned. This may be the ship mentioned destroyed during the Dominion War in DS9: "Field of Fire".

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