John Eaves Shows Off Early Sketches Of Riverside Shipyards From Star Trek

One of the few Trek vets on the design team for the new Star Trek movie was John Eaves, who has previously designed the Enterprise E and more from the TNG era. One of the things John did for the new Star Trek was the Riverside Shipyards. Today Eaves has released some early design sketches and inspirations for this iconic location.


Riverside Ship Yard early designs
On Eaves Blog he describes how he used naval yards and train yards as inspiration for his early designs, even showing some of the images that he used for inspiration.

One of the real world ship yards used by Eaves

Eaves started with waht he calls the ‘turntable’ design based train yards. Eaves describes the scene:

[An] incredibly large construction facility that housed various material and electronic manufacturing facilities that were easily accessed from every dock.

Early ‘turntable’ sketch for Riverside Ship Yards

The design evolved to a single dock idea.

Early sketches of single dock for Riverside Shipyards

And this eventually evolved into the final version for the film…

Kirk sees the E for the first time at the Riverside Shipyard

For the full breakdown, larger images and more, go to Eaves Blog.

For more on Eaves history with the Star Trek franchise, goto Memory Alpha



More to come from Eaves
TrekMovie will be doing a follow-up article with Eaves, like we did with James Clyne, covering more of John’s work on the film. Look for that later in June. 


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Pretty cool. I like that these behind-the-scenes stuff is coming out. Probably will end up seeing this on the DVD when its released.

Keep it coming!

Cool, man, cool….

I really liked the shipyards in the movie and the stuff from the first teaser trailer.

very cool stuff i hope they put this collection in a book

Yes, we definitely need a “making of” book.

And a technical manual.

Just how big is the Enterprise supposed to be anyway? I wonder………


Look at the scaffolding. You might see a giant person walking past the half mile long Enterprise.

BTW, how far away would Kirk have to be in that last shot to see the Enterprise at this scale and angle and have it be 2,000 ++ ft long?

“… early design sketches and inspirations for this iconic location.”

Iconic location? It’s like a month old, in terms of the public’s awareness of it. Bit premature to call it _iconic_ isn’t it?

The phrase “beam me up, Scotty” is iconic. “Riverside shipyards ..?”

It’s like when Disney used to put out a new movie and called it, in the _trailers,_ before anyone ever got to see it, “a new Disney family classic.” Or that S. Morgenstern thing.

Anyway: awesome sketches, cool article. Good stuff. NOT iconic.

Sweet info.

Thanks, Anthony.

The only reason the ship was built on the ground was so they could do that shot on his motorcycle.

Weird how many things look a lot cooler on the drawing board than the finished product. And on the size thing, I hope ILM rethinks the size, because it just doesnt…well fit, except maybe for making the ship big enough to fit the brewgineering section.

The drawings look much better than the final product. The movie version looks like somebody just decided to put up lots of scaffolding in the middle of a field and build a ship. The drawings just look more functional to me.

Far nicer and more elegant than the eventual screen image as depicted – I still think the shot as shown needed something extra to add to the emotional imapct of Kirk’s first view of the E. Then again I was so rolling along on a trip of enjoyment with the film it didn’t spoil the moment in the slightest, but something closer to John’s art would have been nicer to look back on in retrospect. The distracting part for me was more the idea of basic manual 1950’s welders being used – something more futuristic in thinking for construction techniques 250 years hence would have struck me as being more realistic.

#7: Your post was iconic.

Clearly a mistake was made with regard the scaling of the ship.

IMO the ship is supposed to be about the same size as the it was in TOS, but clearly the shuttle bay and engineering section would not fit unless she was a Tardis. 1 mistake – a nit pick.
What’s worse, instead of saying “yeah we screwed up – sorry it happens” they’re compunding and highlighting the mistake with the various production teams saying the ship is much bigger and not even coming up with constant size between them.

I choose to say the ship is around the size of the orginal. I don’t think Humans will have evolved to being over 50 ft tall by the 23rd century

#13: Also his post is ironic because that line was never spoken. Its an Iconic bit of misheard dialogue.

Twitter stinks.

That concept art isn’t half bad! Pity they didn’t stick with it. Hell even the SHIP looks better in this guys drawings… new components + more sensible proportions.

They should’ve let him handle more of the design work!

Beautiful, I love these hand drawn conceptual sketches. Don’t understand some of the newbies here can’t accept the ship at it’s new size, weird. It’s officially forged cannon fellas give it up best of all no Kindergarten on this Enterprise or pink officers lounch office chairs!!


How do you know there isn’t a kindergarten and pink officer’s lounge? Just because they weren’t shown doesn’t preclude their existence. Kirk’s mom was pregnant on the Kelvin. What did they do with the kids after they were born? Did they get dropped off at the nearest planet/starbase?

The funny thing is that even the Enterprise herself looks a lot better than the final version they used.

The nacelle pylons look more correct, and the neck in between the primary and secondary hulls is where it should be rather than being pushed back to make the deflector stick out..

As someone who’s served in the Navy while my ship was in drydock, these concept drawings not only look a lot cooler than what we got in the movie, but it makes more sense the way this concept is built. It’s a lot easier to build a large ship with yards like this instead of in the middle of a field with lots of scaffolding. They could’ve written the scene as Kirk getting lost in the yards and ends up in the Enterprise’s construction bay looking up at it instead of ripping off Top Gun. I really love this guy’s work.

whats all this stuff on the Twitter thing about Schwarzenegger following ?

yes i agree get him in the sequel!…leader of the Klingons!

with the no country 4 old men dude as KHAN…

They Should have let John Eaves create the new Enterprise, It would’ve Kicked More ass than Ryan’s. In my opinion.

John Eaves is the better of the two artists.

#11 Indeed.
And I would have liked it better if John would have designed the E.

Eaves on the 2357′ figure:

“These figures are what was tossed around in the planning stages so without a direct confirmation from ILM or Bad Robot you can give or take a hundred feet of 2357 and your just about right!”

When asked whether the ship was designed small, and then scaled up:

“She was always planned to be a huge ship,, No scaling up and the original TOS wasn’t even used as a measuring rod,, They set out to make a big ship, drew up the concepts , set a rough figure of measurement and then went for it!”


Either John Eaves or Andy Probert would have done a better job on the Enterprise – and they would have a complete set of plans with dimensions available so everyone would know the ships size. I dont think ILM or the designer were concerned about technical details about the ship.

Everything looks better in these sketches.

I seriously think the construction site needed to be larger in the movie sequence. Like give us something reaching over top of the ship as per these sketches… I think that one element really makes the scene. Give us some sense that there is a structure there. It just looks so awkward with this partially constructed starship sitting out there in what really appears to be just a field. With a line of barrels marking it off. What a dumbfoundingly peculiar sight.

I’d buy DVDs for all my friends if they touched up this scene in the release. They can’t write more explanations in anymore, but they really could just make this first sight of the Enterprise look real !

I love the shipyards. Makes it more realalistic and kool. Not just for us geeks anymore. Anyone that has ever been in the Navy or worked in a shipyard loves the Shipyard scene in Trek.

I just wish Abrams would have dwelled on the shipyard scene a little LONGER than he did. I was disappointed that what we saw in the trailer was all there was of the scene. : (

And I can’t believe people are still hung up on the damn secondary hull! I thought it was weird at first too, but I adjusted to it within like the first couple WEEKS.

What is wrong with you people?!? lol

29 – yeah i was hoping to see more of it at the shipyard too…esp when Kirk turned up the next morning…however they were obviously keeping it for the big revea in space 3 years later!

It really cracks me up people going on denial that the Enterprise cannot be that big because the windows would be huge and what appears be a person on the scafold would have to be 50 feet tall, but then for them it’s perfectly acceptable the shuttles be 10 feet long and 2 feet tall so that twenty of them can fit inside the hangar bay of both the Kelvin and big E.


It just dawned on me that they must not have crime in this alternate timeline as the fence surrounding the shipyard is no bigger than one you would see around a cornfield.

Eaves did a beautiful job on the Enterprise-E. A shame they only let him design the shipyards, and not the ship this time.

Are they ever going to give us some logical reasoning for why it’s built in Riverside and not San Francisco?

And if they build it on the ground, fine. But how the hell do they get it up in space?!?


It’s in Riverside for the same reason the Shipyard Bar is; a celebration to George Kirk’s heroic struggle against the Narada.

and, the same way they’re getting the ISS into space.

Clarification on #35, maybe they just build the ship and it flies itself out on thrusters.

Did they ever say that was the Enterprise in the Iowa shipyard? Cause I simply don’t remember and when discussing why the Enterprise is in Iowa, a few people have told me they never establish that it was the Enterprise, just implied, heavily.

Could it have been a similar looking ship that was launched sometime between Kirk enlisting and the rest of the film’s events?

A similar looking ship? Unless they moved that entire contraption somewhere else within the few (hours) between the reveal and his getting on the SFA shuttle…

SRSLY, I say it is Enterprise, because as the SFA shuttle passes the ship in flight, you can see “1701” on the starboard nacelle as the shuttle passes.

#37, that should be a legit question, but they went ahead and painted 1701 on the ship in construction

#35, antigravity,
it’s used in a number of TOS episodes (on a small scale like carrying Nomad) and combined with placekeeping thrusters is the only explanation for the Nerada and the Enterprise doing a face to face off hovering over Vulcan far to low to be in a geostatinary orbit.
angage antigrav’s and thrusters and rise up like a derigible
you know, that itsef would have been an awsome scene to add
maybe in an upcoming movie they can redo the drydock for ship repairs or renovations? if it can be built on earth it can be brought back to earth for renovations and we can see a new updated shipyard.
ohh if the enterprise is the first ship built in a new with offices at starfleet HQ then it might look simular to what we saw, I worked in a shipyard and early pictures of it’s building were very simple compared to the complex of buildings and shipways in place by the time I worked there.

Thank You. Full Impulse !!

No. But I amreminded of the the SDF1 taking off. up. then down.

It’s too bad we didn’t get to see wider and more varied shots of the shipyard. The sketches definitely show the scope far better than we got to see in the film.

It would have been nice to see an establishing, wide shot from a higher to give us a sense of overall scale.

From the time that the first teaser trailer came out I was so excited about the posibilities…you couldnt really tell what you were seeing at first and when you heard Nimoys voice and those ample nacelles it sent a chill up my spine…and frankly still does…This movie is like my own child..though I had nothing to do with its creation…I watch its progress everyday and feel proud about its accomplishments as though I were living through it. This has a been a thrill ride like no other and Im loving the future of TREK!

John, if you are reading this, how about you do your own re-imagined design of the Enterprise separate from what Ryan did. That would be interesting to see.

37. Jason – June 10, 2009
“Did they ever say that was the Enterprise in the Iowa shipyard? ”

I believe the signs near the site say 1701, if I recall from somewhere…

#15 observes that “Also his post is ironic because that line was never spoken. Its an Iconic bit of misheard dialogue.”

Maybe that’s what Anthony meant, too, since I’m pretty sure the phrase “Riverside Shipyard” is never uttered on film, either. Maybe that’s how a phrase _becomes_ iconic!

Oh my god, it’s “Ewoks” all over again!

I keep hammering this to death, but I wished they’d used the TMP-TFF federation logo rather than the TNG version, for continuity and just because I like it better… me, me, me.


idont get me started on logos :)
did you like the ENterprise insiginia on the Kelvin and then as the fleet logo all those years later?

did any one ever get an answer to that?

Yeah, I thought it was really strange that (Prime timeline)the Big E’s crew influenced SF into making their ship symbol into SF’s logo in mid-2270s, but 50 years (STILL Prime timeline)earlier on USS Kelvin, they have the same shape.

I’m not sure if Memory Gamma is having a field day fanoning all this new stuff or scratching their heads.


I almost hate to say it but. Not every one saw ’em on the kelvin (crew). kinda like all the work on the hobbit feet in LOTR and they were so rarely seen. makes one jokingly ask why even have them in the first place :)

but jokes a side. if this movie was for a new audiance who wouldnt know of such details and the fans would, why do it?