While a cadet at Starfleet Academy, Pike wrote his thesis on the circumstances surrounding the destruction of the U.S.S. Kelvin NCC-0514 by a Romulan vessel on Stardate 2233.04. By 2255, Pike was serving at the Academy while overseeing the construction of the Enterprise at the Riverside Shipyard in Iowa. It was there that he met a young man named James T. Kirk—the son of George Kirk, who had died while saving the lives of the Kelvin's crew—and he convinced Kirk to join Starfleet as well.
Three years later, Pike was captured by Nero—the same Romulan responsible for the destruction of the Kelvin—shortly after the Enterprise was launched. After Nero destroyed the planet Vulcan, he tortured Pike for information on Earth's defenses. Pike was rescued by Kirk and Spock, but had been severely injured as a result of Nero’s torture. Upon returning to Earth after Nero's defeat, Pike was promoted to the admiralty and was succeeded by Kirk as captain of the Enterprise.