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The one and only. Geek, fan of sci-fi, starship lover, coder

Discovery's Walker Class (and my favorite starship)

Personally, my favorite starship design is the Walker class from Star Trek: Discovery. I like that it feels like a whole ship, instead of multiple combined parts.

Its first appearance was in Discovery's first episode as the USS Shenzhou (NCC-1227), as commanded by Captain Philippa Georgiou. The lead of the show, Michael Burnham, served as its first officer.

The Shenzhou was later disabled and then abandoned at the Battle of the Binary Stars. A real shame, since I personally like its design more than the Discovery's Crossfield class.

In an alternate universe known as the mirror universe, the Shenzhou was captained by Michael Burnham instead of Cpt. Georgiou, who functioned as emperor in this universe. Michael was considered the emperor's adopted daughter, which is likely why she was given command of the Shenzhou.

In the Star Trek: Discovery comic "Aftermath", after Michael's faked death, former commander Airiam takes command of the Shenzhou by force. She is a cyborg of sorts after an accident destroyed most of her body, and so she does not require air. She vented all the air out of the bridge and used the threat of doing so again as a way to keep the captain's chair. She later becomes emperor after killing many more people using a biological weapon she was immune to.

Another interesting feature of the Walker class is that its bridge was located on the bottom of the saucer, with an actual glass-like window. Most regular Starfleet vessels have their bridge at the top of the saucer, with a dome-like structure and a monitor for a view screen, allowing them to use cameras mounted on many sides of the ship.

The USS Shenzhou at the Battle of the Binary Stars

It's important to note she Shenzhou's view-screen was not just a window, it also featured holographic overlays. What is also interesting is that while the holographic projections do appear to cover the entire screen, they are hardly ever used as such. There's navigational data on the edges of the view-screen. When not using holographic communication, the other end's visual data would often appear inside a box, as if a regular projector was projecting it — one like we have today.

The USS Discovery also had a similar view-screen. Here's an example of the "box" projection I mentioned.

Data about the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A) is on-screen

A crash-landed USS Hiawatha is on-screen

Sadly, the Shenzhou is the only canon example of the Walker class showing up, leading to a considerable lack of information regarding the ship. For example, we don't really know the ship's purpose. Where it was made clear in its very first appearance that Discovery was a science vessel, no such explanation is ever given for either Shenzhou.

It's interesting that the Shenzhou held up fairly well during the Battle of the Binary Stars, even being one of the last surviving ships (although heavily damaged and at the mercy of the newly reunited Klingon Empire). That would suggest it was built to endure a lot, yet its insides don't seem extremely military. Its crew quarters are large, having way more space than necessary for any one crew member.

The Walker class also has a brig. However, it's a lot of empty space and is only a single cell — not something you'd want during a battle, or even when you have two intruders. The brig's wall is also not straight but instead forms a triangle shape. I'm not sure what's up with that, but I'm sure they had a good reason. One that isn't aesthetics. It also only had a single bed, and it's just a plank at that. Not very humane, even for prisoners.

Shenzhou's brig

The quarters also don't help with determining the vessel's purpose. Michael Burnham's quarters are full of decorations and utilities in addition to her bed. Her quarters contained a large bed, a couch of sorts, two desks (one overlapping the other), some tables, and more. If Shenzhou were built as a combat-vessel, this would seem unlikely.

It's also strange that Burnham's quarters on the USS Discovery are much emptier. Aboard the Discovery her quarters (shared with the eccentric ensign Silvia Tilly) are essentially empty, other than two beds on opposing sides of the room. It's even more interesting her new quarters aren't decorated, considering she now shares a room with someone who would definitely decorate a room given the chance, and Michael herself is also more accepting of her human than she was on-board the Shenzhou.

I'd considered it might be because of her rank, but that seems unlikely — she also served as the second in command on Discovery for a while and seems much more comfortable among her current crew than she was aboard Shenzhou. She even mentioned she didn't attend parties or "fraternize" with her fellow crew before she joined the USS Discovery's crew.

Such decorated quarters would also likely indicate Shenzhou is not a combat vessel, since it's unlikely you'd be allowed to decorate and fill in your quarters like that on a military vessel.

Michael Burnham's quarters

The online model store EagleMoss also has a Shenzhou model, and it looks pretty good in my opinion. See https://shop.eaglemoss.com/int/star-trek-discovery-starships/uss-shenzhou

EagleMoss' Shenzhou model

All images except the EagleMoss Shenzhou model taken from Memory Alpha.

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