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The USS Kelvin (NCC-0514) was a Federation Kelvin-type starship operated by Starfleet during the 23rd century.

Prime reality[]

In 2233, the Kelvin was under the command of Captain Richard Robau, while his first officer was Lieutenant George Kirk.

During his time on the Kelvin, Kirk became the youngest first officer in Starfleet history. (SNW: "Lost in Translation")

On stardate 2233.04, the Kelvin was on a mission 75,000 kilometers from the Federation-Klingon border. George Kirk's wife Winona was also aboard at that time, pregnant with their son, James T. Kirk. (Star Trek; SNW: "A Quality of Mercy")

Sometime after the birth of his son James, George Kirk transferred to Tarsus IV. (SNW: "A Quality of Mercy")

Alternate reality[]

USS Kelvin engages the Narada

The Kelvin prepares to ram into the Narada

In 2233, the Kelvin encountered a black hole created in 2387 by the detonation of a red matter device, which subsequently spawned the alternate reality. As the Kelvin was observing the black hole, an unidentified vessel emerged from the future. It would later turn out to be the Narada, a 24th century Romulan mining vessel commanded by Captain Nero. The Kelvin was attacked, leading to a battle during which Captain Robau was murdered, having been invited to the attacking ship under the pretense of negotiating a ceasefire. His first officer, George Kirk, assumed command while Nero interrogated Robau. Almost immediately after Robau died, Nero abandoned all pretense of negotiations and attacked once more, inflicting major damage on the Kelvin.

With no chance of defeating the Narada in combat, Kirk ordered an evacuation, planning to set the autopilot to ram the Narada with the Kelvin only for the autopilot system to fail. Kirk therefore elected to stay on board, to both steer the ship and to operate its weapons in order to protect the fleeing shuttlecraft from the Narada's torpedoes. Kirk then piloted the craft to its destruction, ramming the Narada, disabling it, and giving the crew of the Kelvin a chance to flee.

It was during the battle that George Kirk's son, James T. Kirk, was born (naming him over the communicator was one of George Kirk's final actions prior to impact). Despite the fierceness of the engagement, the evacuation effort culminated in the Kelvin being survived by over eight hundred of its crew (a clear majority) including Winona Kirk and her newborn son, but with the notable exception of Captain Robau, George Kirk, and several other crewmembers who were killed during the Narada's attack or were unable to escape prior to the ship's fatal impact with its attacker. (Star Trek)


USS Kelvin model

Desktop model of the USS Kelvin

In memory of the Kelvin, Christopher Pike wrote a dissertation on the ship and the actions of its final commanding officer, George Kirk.

In 2255, the Shipyard Bar in Riverside, Iowa on Earth featured Kelvin-shaped salt-shakers. (Star Trek)

According to co-writer Roberto Orci: "Shortly after the heroic death of George Kirk, the Iowa shipyards were erected by Starfleet to honor and commemorate the sacrifice. Hence, the Kelvin salt shaker in the diner, etc..." [1]

In 2259, a replica of this starship was on display in the office of Admiral Alexander Marcus. The Kelvin Memorial Archive was also named for the ship. (Star Trek Into Darkness)

By 2263, the USS Enterprise had escape pods known as Kelvin pods attached to the bridge. These pods were also named after the ship. (Star Trek Beyond)

Command crew[]

See also: USS Kelvin personnel


Related topics[]

Background information[]

A dedication plaque was made for the bridge set. However, due to camera angles and lighting conditions, it was illegible. The plaque was located adjacent to the turbolift. The Star Trek Encyclopedia, 4th ed., vol. 1, p. 192 contains a graphic of this plaque, which includes the ship's commissioning stardate as 2225.5 (which translates to January 5, 2225 under the rules explained by Roberto Orci) at San Francisco, California, and the motto "All glory comes from daring to begin." (This motto was from Eugene F. Ware, an author and politician of 19th century Kansas.) The plaque does not include the ship's class. [2](X)

The Artisan prop and model shop of Quantum Mechanix, QMx FX Cinema Arts, was asked to illustrate the history of space flight with models for Star Trek: Into Darkness. They constructed fourteen models in total. On their website, there was a picture of the USS Kelvin model. [3]

The Kelvin breaks from convention with regards to its registry, having a zero preceding the primary three digits, whereas previous ships with a three-digit NCC registry had no preceding zero, such as the USS Grissom (NCC-638). According to Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual, the registry NCC-514 was assigned to the Saladin-class destroyer USS Rahman (β).

Identifying the Kelvin[]

Kelvin type Iowa concept art

A concept sketch for the USS Iowa, which later became the Kelvin

The Kelvin was named after physicist and engineer Lord Kelvin as well as Harry Kelvin, the grandfather of Star Trek director and producer J.J. Abrams. [4] The registry number of the Kelvin is Harry Kelvin's birthday (audio commentary, Star Trek Special Edition/Three-disc Blu-ray). Abrams frequently includes references to his grandfather in his productions.

In early stages of the film's development, the ship was named the USS Iowa. [5] While known by this eventually unused name, the vessel was given a registry number of 1201. [6](X) In a later interview with screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Kurtzman explained that the ship's initial name was to have been "our nod" to the fact that the prime universe James T. Kirk had been semi-established as having been born in Iowa. "Then we decided that was too radical," Kurtzman said of the reference.

Furthermore, Orci explained that the writers imagined that – in the prime timeline, shortly prior to the birth of James Kirk – the Kelvin would have successfully completed the return journey to Earth, safely delivering the as-yet unborn boy, as well as his parents, to the planet, (Star Trek Magazine issue 146, p. 38) though it is unclear if it would have been January 04, 2233 or a slightly later date as trauma and stress can trigger a delivery.

Robau actor Faran Tahir once made several speculations about the Kelvin, such as suggesting that – prior to its destruction in the alternate reality – it had a long history that included having been in previous battles. He reckoned, "The Kelvin is a ship that's been sent out to the uttermost reaches of the explored universe at that point [....] The Kelvin has been out there and has run the gamut of creating peaceful situations out of dangerous situations [....] I think it's a great parallel that the Kelvin is very much what Enterprise ends up being later in the story. It is a prototype and I would suggest that the events of that ship were taught as a model at the Academy." (Star Trek Magazine issue 145, p. 87)

Creating Kelvin scenes[]


The set for the Kelvin's bridge, during production

The opening shot of the Kelvin, a sweeping forty-second camera move, was not planned for in initial previsualization footage, created during the early stages of production by David Dozoretz and an affiliated team at Paramount. It was only once J.J. Abrams and his editors began combining live-action and previz footage that they realized they wanted the previz to be different from what had originally been planned. "They decided they wanted to tell a different story in quite a few sequences," recalled Industrial Light & Magic animation supervisor Paul Kavanagh. ILM consequently began creating their own previz shots, including the initial view of the Kelvin, which was orchestrated by ILM during principal photography at Paramount. "J.J. wanted to create a sense of mystery in the shot," Kavanagh explained. He ultimately thought this notion was achieved, commenting, "Each piece of the shot revealed a little bit more of the story, keeping the audience intrigued until the end, when we finally revealed this starship." (Cinefex, No. 118, p. 48)

Mysterious Corridor

The mysterious corridor on

Of all the shipboard scenes in the film, the ones set aboard the Kelvin were filmed first. As such, Director of Photography Dan Mindel considered the shooting of the Kelvin scenes to be a "trial run" for the upcoming filming of the Enterprise sets. "We went onto the Kelvin knowing that we were going to be blind for the first few days until we started seeing dailies from those sets, then we could take notes and add whatever we wanted to for the Enterprise, which hadn't been built yet," Mindel remarked. "We wanted to make the Kelvin a lot darker and less welcoming and positive than the Enterprise was going to be, so everything is muted in there." (Star Trek Magazine issue 146, p. 44)

One of the viral promotion sites, at , occasionally showed a picture of a mysterious corridor, supposedly on the Enterprise. It was, in fact, a corridor from the Kelvin, seen very briefly while George Kirk was in command.


USS Kelvin (Year Five)

The prime reality USS Kelvin as depicted in Star Trek: Year Five #24.

A computer-generated depiction of the Kelvin was included in the 2011 edition of the Ships of the Line calendar, in the image for February (entitled "U.S.S. Kelvin–On Patrol"). Created by Tobias Richter, this image shows the starship passing through a planetary system with its warp nacelle energized, nearest a ringed planet with two other planets nearby.

The 2012 reference book Federation: The First 150 Years describes the Kelvin as an Einstein-class starship.

According to Keenser's Story, the Kelvin made first contact with Keenser's species, the Roylan (β)s, in 2230.

The 2013 virtual collectible card battle game Star Trek: Rivals has the Kelvin on card #93 "NCC-0514 USS Kelvin".

The book The Autobiography of James T. Kirk includes a brief section where Kirk recounts his parents' time on the prime universe Kelvin.

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