In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Admiral Kirk and crew save Earth by going back in time and saving two humpback whales named George and Gracie and bringing them to the future to repopulate the species. This comes after a probe comes looking for the long-gone species and its search threatens to make the planet uninhabitable. The end of the film has the former crew of the Enterprise crashing into San Francisco Bay aboard a stolen Klingon Bird of Prey, releasing the whales, saving Earth, and more or less having a happy ending as they discover that they will be now stationed on the Enterprise-A.
The end of Star Trek IV more or less answers questions regarding the main plot points of the film. One thing that isn’t answered though is what happens to the Bird of Prey, now named HMS Bounty by Admiral Kirk and his crew. Presumably it sank into the bay and was never thought of again. However, it was never confirmed what this ship’s destiny was.. until the episode of Star Trek: Picard called The Bounty. The answer will be found below and does include spoilers for this episode of Star Trek Picard.
In The Bounty, Admiral Picard and the now skeleton crew of the USS Titan-A find themselves visiting a new location in Star Trek lore. This is the planet of Athan Prime where the Fleet Museum can be found in orbit. The Fleet Museum is the final resting place for “every legendary starship,” Seven of Nine explains. There are several awesome and beloved ships from Star Trek seen here, along with some others that clearly are important but whose stories have not been told. This includes the Enterprise-A, the Defiant, Voyager, and… the HMS Bounty. That’s right, the ship that Admiral Kirk used to escape the Genesis planet after saving Spock in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and then used to save Earth in the next film has made its way to the Fleet Museum.
The name of the ship is a reference to the HMS Bounty of the British Navy in the 18th century, which was overtaken by a mutiny by the crew who regarded Captain William Bligh as abusive. A 1932 novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall called Mutiny on the Bounty told the tale. Dr. McCoy suggested the name and soon it was painted on the side of the hull before it departed the planet Vulcan for the return to Earth. After discovering that catastrophe was imminent for Earth and the Federation, Kirk uses the ship to take his crew back in time by slingshotting around the Sun in the Sol System. Upon their return to their normal time and crash into the San Francisco Bay, the story ended for this ship… until Star Trek: Picard added to it.
During The Bounty, Seven of Nine noted that after the events of Star Trek IV the ship did indeed sink. She also shared that it took Starfleet quite some time to find it and retrieve it from the depths of the ocean. However, this did indeed happen and now it is on display at the Fleet Museum. This isn’t the end of its story either, however. It also isn’t the last time it would be part of a theft.
In Star Trek: Picard the ship was not stolen by the crew of the Enterprise as happened in The Search for Spock. Instead, its cloaking device was stolen by the kids of Admiral Picard and Commodore LaForge. Sidney La Forge and Jack Crusher steal the cloaking device and then attempt somewhat successfully to install it on the Titan. This doesn’t work perfectly and soon one of the greatest engineers in Starfleet history joins the efforts to save the crew of the Titan, the former crew of the Enterprise D and E, and all of Starfleet from Changelings who are determined to destroy the Federation.
The return of the HMS Bounty to Star Trek was a lovely nod for fans who may or may not have wondered what happened to the ship that was such a big part of Star Trek III and Star Trek IV. What do you think about the addition to the story of the Bounty? Do you like how it was connected to this episode of Star Trek: Picard? What do you think of this season? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!