the uss grissom

IF you are a fan of of Star trek III The Search for Spock, there were certainly a lot of new ships to set a fancy to.  The Klingon Bird of Prey, The USS Excelsior, The Massive Space Dock, and one little ship called the USS Grissom.  I walked away from this film in awe and wonder with what ILM had done visually and creatively with all the new ships.  The destruction of the Enterprise seemed unimaginable even after the film was over…quite a shocker.  That moment hit hard, like Spock’s death in the previous film.  These were definitely the glory days for the Trek films.  From the Motion Picture to Trek IV possessed a magical presence on the screen that left me wanting more.

Aside from these fine films, the VFX ws as big of a star as were the main actors.  Many, many  incredible ships and scenes graced the screen from 79 to 87, and I’m sure we all have our favorites.  One of my all time favs was the USS Grissom, named after Apollo astronaut, and Mercury pilot Gus Grissom who died tragically in a capsule fire in the mid 60’s.  The Star Ship Grissom is defined as an Oberth class vessel and had a very unique set of lines and brilliant architecture.  I loved all the designs from film to film in the above mentioned years, and the Grissom stands firm as one very cool designed ship.  I’m not sure if this was a Bill George concept or a Nilo Rodis idea, but whoever the designer is my hat is off to you.

I was quite surprised when I saw the filming miniature at ILM because from the top it looked nothing like what was seen on film, mainly because the angles the model was filmed at were fairly mid hull shots with the ship traveling to or from the camera.  Greg Jein gave me these pictures of the model and immediately you’ll notice the registry # is different from the ST III film version…this was done a lot on Star Trek so as to reuse a model from the films for whatever one of the TV shows it was going to star in next.  A simple decal change made for a whole new ship at very limited expense.  So with all that said, enjoy the pics and look forward to your comments.

grissom 1

grissom 2







64 Responses to “the uss grissom”

  1. 1 evil_genius_180
    June 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    You forgot to mention the most used ship in Star Trek: the merchant ship that Valkris was on. (great model)

    I gotta a agree, the first four Star Trek films are awesome. Great scripts, lots of new designs and awesome acting.

    I like all of the models they made for Star Trek III and all went on to have long careers in Trek. The Grissom is one of my favorites also. I love how not one part of that ship is like any other class in Star Trek, it’s all unique. Even the lines are unique. The oversized engineering section, the wide struts and the nacelles that are attached to the saucer. There’s no other class like it. Great stuff. I loved seeing this model on TNG and DS9 also, as various science vessels throughout the fleet. Great pictures too, thanks for sharing those. 😀

    • 2 johneaves
      June 11, 2011 at 12:29 am

      OH Man the merchant ship was so cool!!!! Loved that scene with the awesome James Honer score playing over the top of it!!!!

      • 3 evil_genius_180
        June 11, 2011 at 12:45 am

        Yeah, that’s the other thing that made Star Trek II and III great is James Horner’s score. That man knows how to write some cool music. 😀

        Of course, I love Jerry Goldsmith’s scores also, but there’s just something about James’ scores that they seem a tad more dramatic.

      • 4 johneaves
        June 11, 2011 at 6:36 am

        It’s funnyyou mentioned that, Goldsmith was always more on the grand to subtle composer with his themes and Honor was always pushing the action tempo!!! the two really gave Star Trek a breath of life that no one else could have done with such grace and beauty..

        I picked up that extended STIII score last year and it’s a must!!!!! did you pick it up??

      • 5 evil_genius_180
        June 11, 2011 at 7:32 am

        There’s an extended score? I didn’t know that, I’ll have to look into it.

        I definitely think Goldsmith and Horner are the two best Trek composers. I love Alexander Courage’s original music and some of the other people who have done music for Trek have done awesome job, but those two are a cut above the rest. I also love Goldsmith’s music for the Planet of the Apes movies that he scored. Now there was some subtle and powerful music. 🙂

      • 7 johneaves
        June 11, 2011 at 11:27 am

        Thanks Jay, for the link,, That’s the one.. And yes I love that Planet of the Apes score!!! I play that one often

  2. June 10, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I liked this ship the second I saw it. completly new and different from any thing else.

  3. June 10, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Yep, great ship, great films. Grissom perished in the late 60’s though, bud. January 27, 1967 to be precise. Capsule fire on board Apollo I on the pad. Senior Pilot Ed White and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee also perished in the tragic fire.

    peace & bananas | deg

    • 11 johneaves
      June 11, 2011 at 12:27 am

      Thanks buddy,, I was writing fast and hit the 7 and not the 6,, yes it was a very tragic event!!! I remember it well when I was a tyke. Today your family arrives if I am not mistaken!!! WOOOOO HOOOO!

  4. 12 Dave
    June 10, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Sorry to correct you, but Gus Grissom died in the Apollo 1 test along with Ed White and Roger Chaffee on 1/27/1967. Lessoned learned from that tragedy enabled the subsequent successful moon missions. Late January is a reminder of the risks of human space flight, with Challenger and Columbia losses both occurring within a week of that anniversary date.

  5. 14 Jay
    June 10, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    I have to say it took me some time to warm up to the Grissom. Having cut my teeth on the Franz Joseph tech manual, and then seeing the Reliant in TWOK, I was at the time very enamored of the idea that Starfleet starships were very modular and plug-and-play – a saucer section here, some nacelles there, and Bob’s your uncle. The Excelsior I bought as “the next generation” of Starfleet tech and thus it looked different, but that the Grisson didn’t have the same nacelles (por exemple) as the Enterprise and the Reliant was a head scratcher for 11 year old me sitting in the theater in Myrtle Beach, SC, watching all the action.

    And as an aside, I hate hate hate that Numero 3 gets lumped in with that “all the odd numbered Treks are bad” cliche because its an unfair slap in the face to Mr. Nimoy and his very fine film. I WAS THERE and I REMEMBER! Star Trek III was very well received at the time, it was generally well reviewed, and its box office was very comparable to its predecessor, thus insuring that the adventure would indeed continue. And it bugs me no end when people down it simply for the sake of some facile and innaccurate meme! Grrrrrrrr!

    • 15 johneaves
      June 11, 2011 at 12:33 am

      Your right a lot of the odd-even ratings are out of proportion!!! 1 was long, but I loved it three was not Khan, but I loved it, 5, well 5 needed ILM and then I would have loved it. The Grissom took me by surprise and I think I did a big ooooow-waaaah out load in the theater when it cut across the screen.

  6. 16 MickRC
    June 11, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Was watching that Hollywood auction TV show and they had “Lost Enterprise” molds in a segment on a company that made models for films. The owner claimed it was the prototype from Star Trek Phase II, the TV series that never happened. He wouldn’t let them auction it off as he felt it was worth 100K+ and they thought $25K-$30K.

    • 17 johneaves
      June 11, 2011 at 6:38 am

      SERIOUSLY!!!! he wanted that much for 30 + year old molds????

    • 18 Scott D
      June 12, 2011 at 10:02 am

      Yeah, I saw that episode. Was surprised the guy wanted to hold onto those moulds and model parts when they were just tossed aside in some backyard shed.

      • 19 doubleofive
        June 13, 2011 at 9:14 am

        I hate that, when Joe (the show is called “Hollywood Treasure” and it’s on SyFy) finds something in someone’s garage on basement, and they’re like “eh, I think I’ll keep it”, it really grinds my gears. This is HISTORY, it should be shared, or at least appreciated by you!

      • 20 Dwayne Day
        June 18, 2011 at 7:39 am

        I dislike that show a lot because the theme is that what is important is a) Joe makes money, b) Joe’s reputation is preserved (note that his reputation is always “on the line”), c) Joe finds neat items in time for the auction, or (yawn) the printing of the auction catalog.

        I would much rather see a show that simply went around and looked at people’s collections. What’s more important, that these old props are loved and preserved, or that some guy running a business makes money off of them?

      • 21 Matt Wright
        June 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm

        I agree with ya Dwayne, the show is really kind of annoying, and not about Hollywood Treasures, it’s about selling Hollywood collectables for $$$ and not about the collections.

      • 22 Dwayne Day
        June 20, 2011 at 6:26 pm

        It was not until an episode this season that Joe said that he was a collector too. But we’ve never seen _his_ collection. Instead, he occasionally says something like he’s doing this to “help people in need” (like to pay their mortgage or something). Yeah, he’s a real charity. It’s all about watching Joe make money. Now compare it to the show several years ago about the Sotheby’s Trek auction. The great thing about that show was at the end when they showed all the fans who were so proud that they could finally own something from Star Trek. That’s the kind of show I’d like to watch, one where you get the sense that people love the objects and aren’t just buying them as an investment.

  7. June 11, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Neat ship!
    If I remember, there is a discussion somewhere, from about 2008-10 on the ship, which i accurate, Grissom or Valiant as I recall. It would be nice to have pics of original Grissom model from every view. Maybe someone would do model, just like theres many things going on with the Daedalus right now.

    • 24 johneaves
      June 11, 2011 at 6:39 am

      I had only these but I have a casting of the original,,, If I ever get it together I’ll add more pics for you

  8. June 11, 2011 at 2:27 am

    The Obeth-class (I think that’s what it’s called) certainly stands out as a very good science ship design.

    I’m guessing that the secondary hull can be detached and left behind for long-term scientific studies, thus freeing up the ship for other duties.

    It certainly stands out and could never be mistaken for anything else.

    • 26 johneaves
      June 11, 2011 at 6:42 am

      So true and that was the point back then with the Federation ships, to make a ship with clean clear lines that differ greatly from the Enterprise so that there will be great distiction when sharing the screen together.

  9. June 11, 2011 at 3:15 am

    Another blog of great interest, have alwasy had a soft spot for the Oberth-class, but how did crew transfer between primary and secondary hulls?

  10. June 11, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Although I do like the USS Grissom (the lines on her are just so eye-catching, very art deco), I’ve always had unanswered questions about it. For example, exactly what purpose does the pontoon/secondary hull serve? With the warp engines up near the saucer, there doesn’t seem to be a real need for it. Also, is that section supposed to be habitable? if so, how does the crew get from the saucer to the secondary hull? There’s no direct connection between them except the struts for the warp engines, and I can’t see there being turbolift tubes inside the struts. First, they’re too thin and second, they’re curved. Furthermore, the scale of the ship is never quite made clear. It looks like it should be significantly smaller than the USS Enterprise, perhaps closer to the size of the Bird of Prey. If that’s the case, though, then the BoP would have to be right on top of the Grissom when they fired on it as seen in the “Grissom 2” photo above. Obviously, that isn’t the case because the torpedo takes a few moments to reach the Grissom, but that just adds more mystery to the Grissom’s scale. It might sound like I’m kind of hating on the Grissom, but I’m really not. Like I said, I do like the design, but I’d love to hear some explanation of why it looks the way it does.

    • 33 johneaves
      June 11, 2011 at 6:44 am

      you said a mouthful,, and I still think they used waterslides to get down to the secondary hull

      • 34 andy
        June 11, 2011 at 8:35 am

        Brilliant. And the great thing about being in space is that the waterslides go up as well.

        Actually I just assumed the warp core was in the saucer, while the secondary hull was full of scientific equipment and nobody went down much, except for setups or maintenance.

      • June 30, 2011 at 1:18 pm

        yeah.. waterslide and girders;)— and a perfrect design for episodics where the transporters are out and the crew cant reach the mess hall….;)

    • 36 John N. Ritter
      June 14, 2011 at 7:52 am

      Some time back, some one on the TrekBBS put forward the idea that the pod was the warpengines/power supply. Tkae this a step further. Let us say that the Oberth was a Transwarp test article. And that early transwarp systems needed two warp engines in close to generaate the transwarp.

    • 37 Dwayne Day
      June 18, 2011 at 7:44 am

      Back when the movie premiered there were several people, like Todd Guenther, who were producing blueprints of ships. I think that the fan explanation at that time was that the secondary hull was unmanned and held sensor systems. That whole smooth forward section of the bottom of the secondary hull was supposed to be a sensor emitter (like the dome over a radar). Since it was a science ship, it would have used those sensors to examine a planet in detail. Seemed like a good explanation to me.

  11. 38 Thomas
    June 11, 2011 at 4:00 am

    wasn´t it in this film, there is a shot of the inside of spacedock with two ships, weird designs, one of a maquarrie enterprise, is seen against the backdrop?

  12. 42 Lee S
    June 11, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Hey John, on a related note…Gus Grissom’s home town is about an hour from Louisville. They have a nifty memorial to their local hero. Maybe someplace we can take you on a future WonderFest trip??

  13. 45 Lee S
    June 11, 2011 at 9:33 am

    It’s a deal!

    Jay, Gus Grissom’s home was Mitchell, Indiana. Here’s a web blurb: http://www.indianabeautiful.com/south/virgil-i-gus-grissom-memorial-museum-mitchell-indiana.html

    Mitchell is a very small town. I haven’t been to the memorial in a LONG time, but I drive past Spring Mill Park where the little museum resides on work visits to Indiana University’s main campus in Bloomington.

  14. June 11, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I don’t think Starfleet ships had as interesting and unusual designs as this again until Alex Jaeger’s First Contact ships. Very distinctive in silhouette, while most of the ships between ST:III and FC more or less followed the Enterprise’s bodyplan.

    Always great to see pics from your personal collection. The model looks reasonably small, maybe 2 feet long? Or am I just imagining that because the ship is small in the movies?

  15. 49 Psylent1
    June 11, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Every time I would see the USS Grissom on the Next Generation, I always had the same thought.

    Shields!, Raise your shields!!!

  16. 50 Matt Boardman
    June 11, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Ah, the ill-fated Grissom, we barely knew thee…at least in ST:III! I always thought she was a cool looking design as it seemed so different than the Starfleet vessels that we had seen up to this point. Thanks for the close ups of the model!

    John, you are so right! There are so many things to love about ST:III! It was the first Trek movie that I owned on VHS. I remember asking for a Star Trek movie for Christmas one year and this was the one that Santa brought. I wore that tape out watching it over and over. Love Horner’s score! So many great moments from it too – the arrival of the scarred and beaten Enterprise, escape from the starbase, the death of the Enterprise, the Grissom. So many great lines too! (One of my favorite lines is Kirk’s “I hear he’s fruity as a nutcake.” Or Scotty’s “Up your shaft!”). Man! I need to watch it again! Netfilx is supposed to have all the movies and series streaming next month! All my DVD’s are back in Michigan so I’m going to have to wait!

    • 51 johneaves
      June 11, 2011 at 11:35 am

      My little daughter is just about ready for Star Trek so were gonna have a movie fest of all of them this summer… I loved three, I don’t know what the issue was with why it isn’t a fan favorite.

  17. 52 Boris
    June 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    The Grissom’s registry was NCC-638; did Mike Okuda slightly alter the 6 into a 5, then append the famous 47 to the end?

  18. June 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Great pictorial – love seeing pics of these great models. There was a destroyed Grissom class model used in TNG for “The Pegasus.” I am wondering if it was taken from a mold from this ship or scratch built, or if it was literally destroyed ofr that show. It is on display in one of the Star Trek – The Exhibit touring shows.

    • 54 R.J.Minnes
      June 15, 2011 at 2:28 am

      No, the pics in the pictorial is the USS Pegasus, The destroyed one you refer to is the USS Vico in “Hero Worship”, and that was especilly built by Greg Jein, most likely from the moulds taken from the original, could be even the moulds Jein gave to John he used to built his golden model…

  19. 55 Richard Knapp
    June 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Hi John:
    The Grissom has always been one of my favorites. A real unique design but still keeping with the established look and feel of a Star Tek ship. I have never seen it in such detail before. I’m inspired now to build a model of it. Thank you for posting these great pictures.

    Hope all is well with you and the family.

    Best regards,

  20. 56 DeanneM
    June 12, 2011 at 9:09 am

    This is a great look at an inspired departure from the familiar shape. So much has already been said…I didn’t fully appreciate this ship at first viewing, but I have taken notice and appreciate the lines more the more I’ve seen it.

    I believe the waterslide theory to be correct. As is always the case with waterslides, the upside trip up the stairs is a pain in the rear. >.>

  21. 57 MickRC
    June 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Deanne, you’re looking at it the wrong way! Starships make their own gravity so up and down are only local directions. They waterslide “Downhill” both ways! Only way to fly…

  22. 58 R.J.Minnes
    June 13, 2011 at 8:35 am

    NCC-53847, yep it’s the USS Pegasus, before Pressman starts messing with cloaking technology and have it stuffed embedded in an asteroid…

  23. 59 Michael
    June 18, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I love the look of Grissom, even though the whole “how do you get to the secondary hull” thing bothered me for years. I’ve always bought into the “unmanned science pod” theory, since there are no windows on it. If the crew need to get to it, they can go through Jeffries tubes in the nacelles (not that difficult if zero gravity) or perhaps using inter-ship transporter. I remember when I first saw it on screen. It kinda slips up on you during a panning shot, and I remember how stunning and unique it looked. Definitely in my top five favorite Federation ships.

  24. 60 patrickivan
    June 20, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Great ship. Great design. It’s inspired me on a couple of builds!

  25. 62 CarlG
    June 27, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I love this little ship, always have! I wish someone would make a model kit of it — who wouldn’t want a Grissom on their desk? 🙂

  26. 63 Joe C.
    August 31, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for posting these John, they’re great. You wouldn’t happen to have them in higher rez, would ya, 😉 I’m building a large scale model of the ole girl. These are the best pics out there so far. Just wish I could see the smaller details better. Thanks again for posting them,


  27. October 18, 2012 at 4:12 am

    It’s wonderful that you are getting thoughts from this piece of writing as well as from our argument made at this time.

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June 2011

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