Northern Ireland

Star Trek: Fans energised by wrong ship

USS Enterprise Image copyright ALAMY
Image caption Captain Kirk's ship, the USS Enterprise-A, commissioned after the original Enterprise NCC-1701 was destroyed

Accuracy is everything in journalism and, as we've found out, in Star Trek.

We aim for meticulous spelling, appropriate grammar and punctuation more precise than a photon torpedo.

But at the final frontiers of journalism, errors can happen.

Even the type of error that would make Jean Luc Picard put his head in his hands.

On Monday, we reported on a man who told police he was the captain of the Starship Enterprise after they caught him urinating in the street.

We attached a photo of what we believed to be the famed vessel.

But it was the wrong ship. We had boldly gone in the wrong direction.

Generations of fans took to social media to tell us of our error.

fraidofthedark tweeted us: "Interesting article, but that ship ain't the Enterprise!"

Bren BRMF was also unimpressed: "Please use a graphic of the correct starship at least BBC!"

It wasn't quite Wrath of Khan, more like "can't get the staff...".

Into darkness

Image copyright AP
Image caption The USS Yamaguchi - not the Enterprise - but another vessel in Starfleet's command

For most of us journalists, Star Trek's warp-speed ships are undiscovered country.

But, knowing we could face a full-on insurrection from irate fans, we set off on a Search-for-Spock-style quest for answers.

Nick Martin was our first contact. He cheerfully told us on Facebook that we had it wrong.

When we called Nick, he said he used to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation but had not seen in a couple of years. He sounded a bit dubious about how much he could help.

So, we asked him, just what ship had we used?

"That's the USS Yamaguchi," he said, without hesitation. "It's an ambassador-class starship.

"It's like a sister ship of the Enterprise, but came about 30 years beforehand if I remember right. It was destroyed by a Borg cube in the Battle of Wolf 359."

Voyage home

Nick said he's faintly surprised he's retained so much information, but that he'd always taken a particular interest in the ships - and the science - of Star Trek.

"I used to watch The Next Generation with my dad. He was a massive fan. The science and the different ships were the part which really interested me, even more than the story."

But in an era of information overload, what is it about Star Trek that makes its mythology so memorable?

"It think it's two-fold," said Nick. "Firstly, it's generational as the show developed through the 60s and 70s and the science changed with it.

"The science in Star Trek is based on ideas and theories that exist now.

"Secondly, it's an in-depth and immersive world. It's easy to get lost in."

Fortunately, Nick has not become a nemesis: "I have no problem with the picture you used - I think it's funny."

Hopefully other fans feel the same and we can reflect on a lesson Star Trek has been teaching for decades: Live long and properly fact check.

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