Although the USS Discovery is set to be the main focus of the series, another ship, the USS Shenzhou, will have a pivotal role in the series, if only for the first episode.
3 new actors were revealed this past Monday and 2 of those are listed as having roles on the Shenzhou. Maulik Pancholy is set to play Dr. Nambue and Terry Serpico will play Ensign Connor who both serve under Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Georgiou on the Shenzou. Sam Vartholomeos was also revealed and will play Admiral Anderson back at Federation HQ.
Fan theories have been getting pretty wild of late, with many making direct and indirect links between the Shenzhou and Discovery. Some have said that the Shenzhou will be destroyed by Klingons early on, or that the Shenzhou will have a USS Defiant kind of role to play within the series.
But, sources close to TSI have revealed that the Shenzhou.. wait for it.. IS the USS Discovery. After an unfortunate set of circumstances in the first episode, the Shenzhou is left badly damaged and almost beyond repair. The original Shenzhou will have more of a ‘chromey’ familiar Federation feel, but once refitted, repaired and renamed to the USS Discovery, the ship will look a little different as you might have seen from the original teaser trailer of the Discovery rolling out of drydock. I am told there are reasons for the gold/copper look of the ship and a solid explanation for the shape.
Some have said that the Shenzhou will be destroyed in the first episode of Discovery and the crew would merely make the switch, but that doesn’t answer any questions about the Klingon-esque look of Discovery. It is likely that Discovery is working in collaboration with some Klingon factions, namely the actors that have been revealed to be Klingons, in bringing a new order to the Klingon empire.
This would not be the first time that Federation ships have been renamed, especially if discretion is required for mission success. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a replacement for the USS Defiant was originally named the USS Sao Paulo, a captured Klingon Bird-of-Prey was renamed the HMS Bounty, by Bones, in The Voyage Home and so on.