THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT Copyright (c) 1994, Landmark Communications, Inc. DATE: Friday, October 28, 1994 TAG: 9410280591 SECTION: LOCAL PAGE: B1 EDITION: FINAL SOURCE: BY DENNIS JOYCE, STAFF WRITER DATELINE: NORFOLK LENGTH: Long : 122 lines
Atlantic Fleet meets Star Fleet this weekend when today's Enterprise, the first nuclear carrier, brings aboard fans of tomorrow's Enterprise, the spacecraft that inspired TV shows, movies and an entire subculture.
Members of a small but active Star Trek club in Maryland arranged the event, ``The Big E Con,'' as a way of linking the carrier with its namesakes from the fictional future.
``She's named after a quality - Enterprise - so it's been harder for her to find a theme than the other carriers. They're named after presidents or things,'' said Anne Marie Kitz, president of the Star Trek Association of Towson.
The club wants to see Star Trek memorabilia all over the ship, so it is presenting such gifts as Nintendo game cartridges, pinball machines, puzzles and an original portrait of the carrier titled ``A Star to Steer By.'' The artist, Sonia Hillios, works with Paramount studios, Star Trek's home.
During the next three days, conventiongoers - as many as 2,700 if attendance hits capacity - will travel to Norfolk Naval Station for half-hour tours of the Enterprise.
``Scotty'' won't be beaming them up, but he is scheduled to ride with the convoy of buses hired to transport the fans from the Omni International Hotel in downtown Norfolk. James Doohan, Chief Engineer Scott from the ``Star Trek'' series that started it all, is among the celebrities attending.
For a 33-year-old ship that just underwent four years and $1.8 billion worth of improvements, it's a lot of hoopla over $30,000 worth of trinkets. But for many in the crew, it's the thought that counts.
``They say, `There will always be an Enterprise,' '' said Chief Petty Officer Curt Joiner, a member of the carrier crew for five years. ``There have been eight ships named Enterprise, and Star Trek is something that helps us see the ship has a future.''
You can find signs of Star Trek all over the carrier already. Some of the most popular coffee mugs and drink bottles bear the starship's logo. Posters adorn crew lounges and the executive officer's stateroom.
Hollywood's relationship with the carrier goes back a few years, too. In one incident now part of Trekkie lore, George Takei - Sulu in the original series - was riding the carrier into the San Francisco Bay after its deployment in 1983 when the ship ran aground on a sandbar.
``We tease him about that at our conventions, because Sulu was supposed to be a navigator,'' Kitz said.
The Towson club sought out the carrier a few years back after flight test pilot Chuck Yeager turned down its invitation to speak at an annual convention. Kitz got a different reception from the Enterprise: Within 24 hours of her first call, she was making arrangements with the man who was the ship's skipper at the time.
In addition to all the memorabilia, the group is raising money at this year's convention for cases to display the collection.
The designer will be Howard Zimmerman, production designer for Star Trek sets, whose attendance at the gathering is greatly anticipated: He will bring news from the set of the new film, ``Star Trek: Generations,'' scheduled for release next month.
Other stars coming include Terry Farrell, Dax on the third Star Trek series, ``Deep Space 9''; William Campbell, Michael Ansara and Robert O'Reilly, who play Klingons Koloth, Kang and Gawron; and Michael O'Hare, star of the syndicated sci-fi series ``Babylon 5.''
O'Hare's brothers are Navy men, one a commander aboard the new aircraft carrier John C. Stennis. The Stennis has been sharing the waterfront at Newport News Shipbuilding with the Enterprise during the older ship's overhaul.
Another celebrity who will be signing autographs this weekend is Capt. Richard J. Naughton, skipper of the aircraft carrier. Ship captains may not have the broad appeal of Hollywood stars, but among Trekkies, Naughton can expect to develop a writing cramp.
One of his predecessors spent five hours at the job during a convention in Maryland.
Explained Kitz, ``There is only one captain of the Enterprise.'' ILLUSTRATION: Enterprise, CVN-76
Length: 1,040 feet
Maximum speed: 33 mph-plus (classified)
Ship's complement: 3,500 crew, 2,020 air wing
Armament: Fighter and bomber jets, Sea Sparrow missiles, Gatling
Length: 948 feet
Maximum speed: Old warp factor 8 (about 342.6 billion mph)
Ship's complement: 430
Armament: Four phaser banks, two photon torpedo banks
Length: 2,108 feet
Maximum speed: New warp factor 9.6 (about 1.34 trillion mph)
Ship's complement: 1,000, including families
Armament: Four phaser banks, two photon torpedo banks with one
SPECS SOURCES: Naval Institute Guide to Ships and Aircraft of the
U.S. Fleet; Star Fleet Technical Manual; Star Trek: The Next
Generation Technical Manual.
THE BIG E CON
A Star Trek conference in honor of the aircraft carrier Enterprise,
the ``Big E,'' runs from today through Sunday at the Omni in
Norfolk. Tickets are $25 for Friday or Sunday, $30 for Saturday, or
$50 for all three days. For details, call the Omni at 622-6664 or
the Big E Con hotline, (410) 825-3017.