The captain's yacht was a large shuttle built into the design of several Federation starship designs including the Galaxy-class and Sovereign-class. It was docked to the underside of the saucer section. Although it was built mainly for diplomatic missions it was also combat capable.
On the USS Enterprise-E, the name of the captain's yacht is the Cousteau. In 2375, the crew of the USS Enterprise-E used the Cousteau to travel to the surface of Ba'ku. (TNG: "New Ground", okudagram; Star Trek: Insurrection)
Background information Edit
Designer Andrew Probert came up with the concept of the captain's yacht while designing the USS Enterprise-D. Although it was never seen in use, it was labeled on the master systems display screen in main engineering and on Commander William Riker's bridge console ("New Ground"), docked at the bottom of the saucer section almost directly opposite the main bridge. Probert suggested possible ways for the yacht to be used during the first season, including not showing the yacht but mentioning it in dialogue, but his ideas were rejected. The Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual (p. 164) claims that the producers almost used the yacht in TNG: "Samaritan Snare", but decided to use an "executive shuttlecraft" due to budgetary constraints. According to Patrick Stewart, the yacht would have been called Calypso. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, p. 164)
Rick Sternbach designed similar craft into the USS Voyager and the USS Equinox, known as the aeroshuttle and the waverider, respectively. Like on the Enterprise-D, however, these vessels were only depicted on technical schematics and never seen in operation or referred to in dialogue.
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