Star Trek: 10 Best Starfleet Designs
Star Trek is all about exploring strange new worlds, and to do that, people need spaceships. Good thing for Starfleet, they have some of the most iconic starship designs in all of science-fiction. The design of the U.S.S. Enterprise is arguably the most iconic starship of all time, and most, if not all, of Starfleet's signature elements, build off that original concept.
Through the various television series and feature films, as well as hundreds of years of future history, Starfleet keeps innovating. Every new iteration of the franchise is an opportunity for a new ship.
The Miranda-class starship debuts in The Wrath of Khan. This smaller, explorer type vessel provided one of the first Starfleet variants beyond the well-established Constitution-class (on film, anyway). Khan turned this little ship into his personal vehicle of death and destruction and handed the Enterprise some of her worst injuries.
The Miranda-class became one of the staple ships in the fleet, serving for well over a hundred years into The Next Generation-era. The ship's design also seems to have been a little of the inspiration behind the U.S.S. Cerritos, the featured ship in the new animated series Lower Decks.
The Oberth-class science vessel is one of the most unique designs in all of Starfleet. Introduced in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, the ship features a split-hull design with no neck, and the miniaturized saucer encased in a flat deck. Despite its small size, the ship remains one of the cooler variants in the fleet. It's not a ship anyone would want to be on in a fight though.
The Grissom, the first ship of this type fans saw, was destroyed in a single shot from a Klingon Bird of Prey. That seemed to prove that Star Trek would probably not have the edge in that crossover with Star Wars that will probably never happen.
The Constellation-class is unique among Starfleet vessels in that it has four warp nacelles. Almost all of them only have the two. This class of ship shares some similarities in size and design with the Miranda-class, but they're two completely different ships. Captain Picard served aboard one of these before taking command of the Enterprise.
The Stargazer featured prominently in his office - at least in model form - throughout the entire run of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The ship doesn't seem to have been super popular, as it's nowhere near as common as some of the other classes on this list.
The Nebula-class is arguably The Next Generation-era version of the Miranda-class. This variant took out the neck of the famous Galaxy-class, turned the nacelles upside down, and plopped a modular pod on top of it. This ship first appeared in the outstanding TNG episode "The Wounded," which also introduced the Cardassians into the franchise.
The Intrepid-class give birth to the U.S.S. Voyager, a radically different starship for the time. This smaller, scientific vessel featured an elongated saucer, no neck (as became the fashion in the late 90s), and adjustable warp nacelles. It also could land, which was such a budgetary impossibility in the 1960s that the Original Series invented the transporter to get around it.
The Voyager got her crew through thick and thin in the Delta Quadrant and even survived the so-called "Year of Hell," which actually wasn't a year. It could have been if writer and producer Bryan Fuller had gotten his wish back in the day.
The Defiant-class introduced something that Starfleet ships weren't really known for: raw firepower. Designed to combat the Borg, one of the greatest villains in Star Trek history, the ship was small, fast, and armed to the teeth. The original Defiant was only a single prototype, but as the Dominion threat rose from the Gamma Quadrant, more of the ships entered service.
The first U.S.S. Defiant featured in some of the best episodes of Deep Space Nine and took part in some of the greatest battles in Trek history. The ship ultimately met its fate in one such battle, but a new one was quickly commissioned.
Another starship design that emerged from the Federation's disastrous first battle with the Borg was the Akira-class. Named after the legendary Japanese anime Akira, this radical new ship abandoned the traditional Starfleet design completely. The saucer, deflector dish, and nacelles all flowed through a single vector, connected via catamaran-like pylons.
This ship first appeared in the film First Contact, and then made several major appearances in the huge battle episodes of DS9. This ship also provided the design template for the NX-01 Enterprise, though that ship chronologically predated it by almost two hundred years.
The Excelsior-class starship essentially became the Starfleet workhorse going into the 24th century. A prototype intended to replace the Constitution-class, it became the fleet standard, serving a century after its introduction and flying alongside far more advanced successors like the Galaxy and Sovereign classes from TNG and beyond.
This ship marveled fans when it debuted in the poetical Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, and greatly expanded what had been to that point a rather shallow pool of Starfleet designs. It remains one of the most innovative takes on the classic Starfleet configuration
The Galaxy-class starship threw down a major gauntlet when it debuted in the amazing pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. This ship threw out the entire playbook to that point of Trek design, abandoning the typical hard lines and angles for smooth, flowing lines. The swan shape of the Enterprise-D proved iconic, and instantly set the ship and the series apart from the original. The class was the elite of Starfleet into the 90s, but proved too big and too slow for threats like the Borg and Dominion, leading to smaller, faster successors. Still, it would be a great thing to see again in season two of Star Trek: Picard.
1 Constitution-Class (Refit)
The best is usually the first, and that's true of Starfleet, to a point. The Constitution-class remains the gold standard of the fleet, but the refit from Star Trek: The Motion Picture improved on the iconic Original Series design and made it even better. The updated version made the ship a little sleeker and angular, sweeping back the pylons supporting the nacelles. This design was only ever seen associated with the Enterprise and Enterprise-A, though through some canonical and non-canonical sources, the class supported as many as twelve other vessels, including the Yorktown.About The Author