Starfleet Ship Classes: Federation Era
This article lists the classes of Starfleet vessels known to be in service during the Federation era (2161 onward).
This article lists the classes of Starfleet vessels known to be in service during the Federation era (2161 onward). For earlier Starfleet ships, see our list of pre-Federation, United Earth starships.
The Akira-class starship was introduced in the early 2370′s. At first glance, it appears to be a multipurpose vessel similar to the earlier Miranda-class and Nebuala-class designs, with a similar configuration to both. However, it has been indicated by designer Alex Jaeger designer that the Akira is a kind of “carrier/gunship”. It has fore and aft shuttlebays (possibly one large, through-deck shuttlebay) and as many as fifteen torpedo launchers. A large weapons pod sits atop the design, housing fore and aft launchers, while flanking torpedo launchers appear on the port and starboard reaches of the saucer section (plus one above the deflector dish). How many torpedo launchers is too many? Ask Jaeger; he seems to think you can never have too many.
Modern starships have a tendency to be poorly designed, but the Akira-class is probably the best of the lot. Ok, so it has too many torpedo launchers and there is a slight issue with scale (count the rows of windows on the underside of the saucer section of you don’t believe me), but it’s a beautiful ship design and a firm fan favourite.
The Ambassador-class is a pretty standard starship design used throughout the 24th century. The USS Enterprise-C was an Ambassador-class starship, and the design fits nicely between earlier models and the larger Galaxy-class USS Enterprise-D. Ambassador-class starships can be seen throughout The Next Generation and the Dominion War. They feature an average armament (10 phaser banks and 2 torpedo launchers) and are of an average size.
Another Ambassador-class starship of note is the USS Excalibur, mentioned in both The Next Generation and Voyager, and used as the setting of Peter David’s New Frontier series.
The Antares-type was a small multipurpose craft identified as transport, cargo ship, survey ship and science probe. It carried a standard crew of twenty, and featured a number of large cargo bays. Some Antares-type ships were fitted for automation, removing the need for a crew. These automated ships were essentially giant, remote-controlled cargo containers.
The Antares-type was used throughout the 2260′s and possible beyond. Ships of this type were seen in both Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Animated Series.
Ships of this type was seen operating during the Dominion War. Most notably, the USS Centaur engaged a Jem’Hadar vessel under the command of Benjamin Sisko in the DS9 episode “A Time to Stand“.
The model of the USS Centaur was made using parts from previous Excelsior-class and Miranda-class models, and the Deep Space Nine Technical Manuel lists it as an Excelsior-class variant. Personally, I’ve always seen this as an update to the Miranda-class, sitting somewhere between the Miranda-class and the Nebula-class on the timeline of starship designs.
The Constitution-class was Starfleet’s most celebrated ship design throughout the 23rd century. Used for long-distance exploration and tactical missions, it was one of the largest and most advanced designs of that era. The Federation flag ship, USS Enterprise, was of this design. Its successor, the Enterprise-A was also an updated variant of the Constitution-class design.
The Constitution-class underwent numerous upgrades during its long career with Starfleet, including changes to its propulsion and weapons systems, as well as its interior layout. Armaments included several phaser banks located around the primary hull, an aft phaser array located above the shuttlebay, and two forward-facing torpedo launchers.
Some Constitution-class starships were still in service as late as the 2370′s, and were seen during the Dominion War.
Constellation-class starships were in use from the late 23rd century through to the late 24th century, fulfilling duties that ranged from deep space exploration to defense patrols. The design featured four warp nacelles, a large frontal shuttlebay and several large cargo bays with exterior doors positioned around the primary hull.
Notable ships of this design include USS Hathaway, USS Victory and USS Stargazer, formerly commanded by Captain Jean Luc Picard.
Cheyenne-class starships were in service to Starfleet during the late 24th century. The design featured four warp nacelles and an oval saucer section similar to that of the Galaxy-class. At least one ship of this type, the USS Ahwahnee took part in the Battle of Wolf 359.
The Cheyenne-class studio model was a ‘kitbash’ using parts from the Galaxy-class USS Enterprise model and with highlighter pens as the warp nacelles. However, the Galaxy-class components were scaled down, with larger windows implying that the Cheyenne-class was a smaller ship
The Curry-type starship was created by (and named for) visual effects supervisor Dan Curry as a kit-bash using mostly parts from the Excelsior-class model. Curry-type vessels were used during the Dominion War, and the USS Curry can be seen in the DS9 episode “A Time to Stand”.
The Curry-type is a very unusual design in that it’s warp nacelles connect to it’s saucer section, and it’s engineering section protrudes forward of the saucer section. Some fans have speculated that the Curry-type might be a ‘carrier vessel’ (the equivalent of an aircraft carrier) because of the large shuttle-bay that protrudes from it’s frontal section.
The Defiant-class is a heavily armed warship (officially an escort) designed by the Federation in response to the Borg threat.
When the Borg destroyed a large fleet of starships at Wolf 359, Starfleet realized that they needed to take a radically different approach to the defense of their space. The USS Defiant was intended to be the first of a new battle fleet designed purely for combat. However, the Defiant had a number of design flaws (it was over-powered and over-gunned) and the project was briefly shelved. The prototype USS Defiant was later brought back into service to aid in the defense of space station Deep Space 9 against the new Dominion threat. When the Dominion War broke out in 2373, several further Defiant-class vessels were brought into service.
Defiant-class starships are equipped with 4 forward-facing phaser cannons, three multi-directional phaser emitters, and 6 torpedo launchers (4 forward and 2 aft).
At least one Defiant-class starship – the USS Defiant NX-74205 – was fitted with ablative hull armor. The Defiant was also equipped with a Romulan cloaking device, thanks to a special amendment to the Treaty of Algeron.
The Daedalus-class starship was unusual in that it featured a spherical forward section instead of a saucer section, like the later Olympic-class (which was based on this design). The Daedalus-class was retired from service in 2196.
The Excelsior-class is a Starfleet design classic. The design was first seen in Star Trek: The Search for Spock, in which the USS Excelsior NX-2000 prototype was fitted with an experimental trans-warp drive. Later, the Excelsior was seen under the command of Captain Sulu.
In 2293 the Excelsior-class Enterprise-B was launched, securing this design’s reputation as one of Starfleet’s finest. The Enterprise-B saw a number of modifications added to the Excelsior-class design, including an extra pair of impulse engines and an expansion of the forward ventral engineering hull.
Notable ships of this type include the USS Excelsior, USS Enterprise (NCC 1701-B), USS Crazy Horse and USS Hood.
The Freedom-class is a small starship with only one warp nacelle. It shares a saucer section design with the Niagara-class and has no engineering hull. The wreckage of a Freedom-class starship can be seen in the aftermath of the Battle of Wolf 359, a scene for which the original model was created (TNG “The Best of Both Worlds“).
Introduced in the late 2350′s, the Galaxy-class starship was the largest and most powerful Federation starship of its day, not to mention the most advanced. The Galaxy-class USS Enterprise served as the Federation flag-ship from its completion at Utopia Planitia in the 2350′s to its destruction in 2371.
The Galaxy-class starship were built primarily for exploration, but also had extensive scientific and diplomatic roles. The ships featured an array of scientific facilities in addition to comfortable living quarters and entertainment facilities, most notably some of the first holodecks to be installed on Starfleet vessels. It was common for Galaxy-class starships to accommodate the families of personnel, and so education and daycare facilities were also installed.
One of the most interesting features of the Galaxy-class starship was its ability to separate into two smaller craft; the ‘saucer section’ and the ‘drive section’. The separated saucer section allowed non-combatant personnel and their families to reach safety in a time of crisis, protected by the powerful drive section.
Later, Galaxy-class starships were used for combat duties, with several taking an active role in the Dominion War. The Galaxy-class starship was armed with 10 phaser banks and 3 torpedo launchers (1 on the aft underside of the saucer and usable only after separation).
The Intrepid-class is a small, multipurpose vessel that was first commissioned in 2370. Although small, the Intrepid-class is powerful and features advanced technologies, such as bio-neural computer systems.
One advantage of being small is that Intrepid-class starships were able to land on planets, with four small landing struts extending from the secondary hull. Of course, the disadvantage was a lack of space and on-board facilities.
Notable ships of this type include the USS Voyager and the USS Bellerophon.
The Miranda-class starship has been called the workhorse of the fleet, although this is mostly because there are simply so many ships of this class, and so many class variants. Comissioned in the late 23rd century and used throughout the 24th century, the Miranda-class is one of the longest serving Federation starship designs, and arguably one of the ugliest too.
The first Miranda-class starship to be shown on screen was the USS Reliant, in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan“. Miranda-class starships were later used in various engagements against the Borg and during the Dominion War.
The Miranda-class could be fitted with different mission-specific modules above the primary hull. For example, the USS Reliant featured a ‘roll bar’ with two forward firing phaser cannons and a weapons module containing forward and aft torpedo launchers. The USS Saratoga, meanwhile, had no ‘roll bar’ but port and aft sensor modules instead (DS9 “Emissary”).
Inspired by the design of the Mirnada-class, the Nebula-class was designed to fulfill a number of roles, including exploration, scientific, transport and patrol duties. Nebula-class starships entered service during the latter half of the 24th century, and shared design features with their Galaxy-class counterparts.
Like the Miranda-class, Nebula-class starships were fitted with mission specific modules, including triangular modules fitted with torpedo launchers and large oval sensor pods.
The New Orleans-class was a frigate in service with Starfleet during the mid-24th century. It shared design features with the Galaxy-class but was much smaller. At least one ship of this type, the USS Kyushu, was present at the Battle of Wolf 359.
The Niagara-class starship has the unusual distinction of having three warp nacelles, two in the usual elevated position and one below. The wreckage of one Niagara-class vessel can be seen in the aftermath of the Battle of Wolf 359, a scene for which the original model was created (TNG “The Best of Both Worlds“).
The Niagara-class model was made using the engineering hull of an Ambassador-class starship and three Galaxy-class warp nacelles. A new oval-shaped saucer section was created for use on both the Niagara-class and Freedom-class ship models.
The Norway-class was a type of starship in service to Starfleet during the 2370′s. Ships of this type were first seen on screen in the movie Star Trek – First Contact, in which several participated in the Battle of Sector 001 against the Borg. Norway-class vessels later fought in the Dominion War.
The design features a triangular primary hull with a deflector dish mounted at the front. A very thin split-hull extends aft, attached to wide nacelle pylons.
Fans have speculated that the Norway-class was designed primarily for scientific and diplomatic missions, but I can’t see this little ship could have space for the necessary facilities with the engineering and living space crammed into the small saucer section.
The Nova-class is like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it. To some it’s a squashed version of Voyager, to others t’s a beautiful plump-breasted robin. I’ve always considered it to be an awkward mix of pointy bits and curvy bits, with too many in-and-out bits, two many deflector dishes for a ship of its size, and two many weapons for a ship of its class.
The Nova-class is said to be a small science vessel designed for short-term planetary survey missions. It features three torpedo launchers (2 fore and 1 aft), 11 phaser arrays, 2 shuttlebays and a large secondary deflector dish – all this in just eight decks! The Nova-class is also equipped with an ‘aero-shuttle’ (no doubt used for those planetary survey missions) similar to that of the Intrepid-class, which docks on the underside of the saucer section. Essentially, this ship has everything Voyager does, except room to swing a cat.
The first Nova-class vessel to appear on screen was the USS Equinox (VOY “Equinox”).
The Oberth-class science vessel is one of those ships that always seems to find itself in hot water. It is famous for its unusual split-hull design and its tendency to explode.
Commissioned in the 2280′s, the Oberth-class was first seen in the movie Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Ships of this type were in use well into the 2360′s, and were seen in both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
Designed primarily for scientific missions (and used as a transport), the Oberth-class was tactically inferior to other Starfleet vessels. It was equipped with only one phaser bank and one torpedo launcher.
Notable Oberth-class vessels include the USS Pegasus, which was equipped with an experimental phasing cloaking device; the USS Grissom, which was destroyed while surveying the Genesis Planet; the SS Tsiolkovsky and the transport ship USS Cochrane.
The Olympic-class starship was first seen in an alternate timeline (TNG “All Good Things…“) in which the USS Pasteur was a hospital ship captained by Dr. Beverly Picard. At least one ship of this type has since been seen during the Dominion War (possibly the USS Nobel).
The Olympic-class featured an unusual spherical primary hull, similar to that of the earlier Daedalus-class. Little is known about its systems and armaments, however as a hospital/science vessel it is likely to have only minimal armaments.
The Prometheus-class starship was conceived as a top-secret Starfleet project. The idea was to create an advanced starship for combat duties, capable of assaulting multiple targets simultaneously. The result was the prototype USS Prometheus, which featured a ‘multi-vector assault mode’. When the multi-vector assault mode was initiated, the ship separated into three equally powerful, warp-capable components. Each of these components could be controlled remotely from the main bridge, meaning that the Prometheus required only minimal personnel to operate.
The Prometheus’ advanced tactical systems included regenerative shielding, ablative hull armor.
The Saber-class is a relatively small starship, but is fairly well armored. It has been suggested that it was design primarily for defensive and patrol duties; a small combat vessel to match the Jem’Hadar fighter. The Saber-class is armed with 4 type-10 phasers and 2 torpedo launchers.
The Saber-class has an unusual configuration for a federation starship. The warp nacelles are joined to the saucer-section, which is roughly oval shaped, and the engineering hull extends aft. This creates an appearance somewhat like a fighter aircraft. The shuttlebay is located at the very front of the saucer-section.
The Soyuz-class was similar to the Miranda-class, except that it featured a small ‘tail section’ protruding from the rear. Like the Miranda-class, it could be fitted with various mission-specific modules, such as port and starboard sensor-pods. The Soyuz-class was in service during the late 23rd Century, but was retired by the late 2280′s.
The Sovereign-class starship was introduced in the early 2370′s as one of the largest and the most advanced Federation starship. It showcased some of Starfleet’s most advanced technology, including bio-neural circuitry.
The Sovereign-class was first seen on screen as the sexy new look of the USS Enterprise (NCC 1701-E) in the movie Star Trek: First Contact. Ships of this type later served in the Dominion War (although they were not shown on screen).
The Sovereign-class featured a large shuttlebay at the rear of the saucer section, multiple torpedo launchers, a large detachable captain’s yacht on the underside of the saucer and incredible good looks. The appearance of a ‘battle bridge’ on design schematics suggests that, as with the Galaxy-class, the saucer section may be detachable.
The Steamrunner-class was a type of Starfleet vessel in service from the 2370′s onwards. Ships of this type were first seen on screen in the movie Star Trek – First Contact, in which several participated in the Battle of Sector 001 against the Borg.
The Steamrunner has since become a fan-favorite because of its unusual configuration. The warp nacelles attach to the saucer section and to a smaller secondary hull. This secondary hull contains the deflector dish and is only connected to the saucer via the warp nacelles. This arrangement doesn’t seem particularly practical, but it certainly is different.
The USS Yeager was part of the defense force that protected Deep Space 9 throughout the Dominion War. It could often be seen circling the station during cut-scenes. The USS Yeager was the only ship of this type to be seen on screen.
The USS Yeager model was a kitbash using the saucer section and nacelles of an Intrepid-class starship, and the main body of a marquis raider. It must surely be the ugliest and laziest starship design ever to grace our screens.