TotL – 6 Obscure Starfleet Starship Classes
We’re continuing to celebrate Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary here at Outright Geekery and CBI, and this week’s Top o’ the Lot list looks at the ships that never really got enough attention on the screen. Sure, they were there, but only long enough to make Trekkies wonder. These were the ships of line that Star Trek never quite got tot the front and center position, but Starfleet made great use of these vessels behind the scenes. We’ve all heard of the Constitution Class, the Galaxy Class, and even the Defiant Class, but these Starfleet starship classes were terrific for all the right reasons, and I wish we’d have seen more of them on the show. So, without further ado, we touch on the movies, stick with the series, but ultimately love just a single video game, in Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: 6 Obscure Starfleet Starship Classes.
Special thanks to the LCARS GFX blog for some amazing renders of Trek computer panels. Check them out here!
6. Akira Class
Notable Ships: USS Thunderchild
What it is: The Akira Class starship is a heavy cruiser designed for research and exploration (of course) but was really a ship built for battle. Conceived during the rise of Cardassian military activity in the years building up to the Dominion War, the Akira plan was given top priority when the full weight of the Borg threat was realized. And that’s pretty much it. The Akira Class was there for a lot of fights, but didn’t get much stage time.
Why it’s cool: First off, the class is named after AKIRA, one of the greatest anime films of all time. Secondly, the Akira Class is a standout in the Real Time Strategy video game STAR TREK ARMADA 2, which I am a huge fan of. The chain reaction pulsar special weapon was a photon torpedo that would hit a target, move onto another target, hit it, and do it all again. Rinse, wash, repeat with deadly force. A fleet or two of these badboys off to the side of the battle and then *BOOM* head in for the kill, launch the special attack while enemy forces were busy with my fleet of Defiant Class fighters, and presto, you got a lot of dead enemies.
5. Oberth Class
Notable Ships: USS Cochrane, USS Grissom, USS Pegasus, SS Tsiolkovsky
What it is: The Oberth Class starship was primarily used as a scout or science vessel, giving it a very specific role in the Trek universe: canon fodder. Again and again this class was used as a throwaway ship that could be easily destroyed, wrecked, and otherwise left useless. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t cool.
Why it’s cool: The USS Cochrane was the transport ship that carried Admiral Nora Satie to the Enterprise-D to investigate possible espionage, as well as taking Wesley to Starfleet Academy, and brought Julian Bashir and Jadzia Dax to Deep Space Nine, before fighting in the Dominion War. The USS Grissom was destroyed over the Genesis Planet, while the USS Pegasus was stuck in a rock due to some crazy Federation cloaking tech. And it goes on, but I’ll stop. Needless to say this ship was everywhere while being nowhere.
4. Miranda Class
Notable Ships: USS Lantree, USS Reliant
What it is: Due to a breakthrough in starship design that allowed interchangeable platforms to be used which tailored the Miranda Class to its job, this was one of the coolest class of starships that never really got much attention. What appeared to be a rollbar on the top of the craft could actually be swapped out to allow a sensor platform, a weapons platform, or even more space for cargo. That made it versatile, and that made it awesome. While the Lantree was a cool part of a single TNG episode, the Reliant was Khan’s go to ass kicker.
Why it’s cool: During Star Trek 2 Khan commandeered the USS Reliant and took it into battle with the Kirk commanded USS Enterprise in a battle for the ages. Quick wit and superior tactics won the day, but Reliant didn’t lose because it had to, it lost because Khan sucked. A Reliant with a full cache on a weapons platform would easily blow the Enterprise out of the sky. It’s crazy that it didn’t actually happen.
3. Ambassador Class
Notable Ships: USS Enterpise-C, USS Excalibur, USS Horatio, USS Yamaguchi, USS Zhukov
What it is: The Ambassador was a heavy cruiser, a bulky looking ship, made to survive a battle while doing its own damage, but really just another science/exploration craft under the Federation banner. These ships served for decades with honor and distinction with craft like the USS Excalibur joining the Romulan Blockade, the USS Horatio being blown to bits by mind-controlling alien saboteurs, the USS Yamaguchi at Wolf 359, or the USS Zhukov where one Reginald Barclay was stationed prior to the Enterprise-D. But there’s one Ambassador Class ship that stands above the rest.
Why it’s cool: This class is cool because of the selfless sacrifice of the crew of the USS Enterprise-C. In a now famous episode, the Enterprise-C escapes a battle between the Klingons and the Romulans using a time portal of some sort, only to change history for the worse and plunging the Federation into a decades long war that it’s on the verge of losing. The crew of the C decide to go back in time, face certain death at the hands of the Romulans, but the act of honor towards the Klingons sets the stage for closer diplomatic ties between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. A great crew, and great story, and just a great little ship.
2. Nebula Class
Notable Ships: USS Bellerophon, USS Farragut, USS Honshu, USS Lexington, USS Merrimac, USS Monitor
What it is: The Nebula Class, like the Miranda Class (see above) had the ability to interchange modules making it quite a versatile craft. The modules including sensor arrays, storage units, the ever-popular weapons platform, and even additional warp nacelles for better fuel mileage. And this ship did it all! Transportation, scouting, science and exploration, but it was also present at several battles including Wolf 359, Sector 001, and several battles in the Dominion War. But that doesn’t make it cool.
Why it’s cool: The Nebula Class is cool for single, yet very important, reason: The way it looks. The Nebula Class closely resembles the Galaxy Class ship in both look and design, and those saucer sections are nearly identical. This showed a consistency between newly created starships in the universe itself, and was a lot cooler than seeing the same old (and we mean OLD) Excelsior Class ships flying around. It’s tough to nail down which design came first; the Nebula or the Galaxy; but it only really matters in the context of a truly unnecessary geek debate.
1. Olympic Class
Notable Ships: USS Pasteur
What it is: The Olympic Class starship is unlike any other class of ship currently in the star fleet. The design is throwback yet modern, it’s primary use is completely different, and it’s single use, and a few mentions, in the series only had us begging for more. A hospital ship, Olympic Class vessels journey the galaxy healing worlds and ships in desperate need. What a great idea!
Why it’s cool: A hospital ship?! What a great premise for a series! While we may never see that, the globe design of the Olympic Class is truly different than anything else from the last 2 centuries of Trek ships, and the mission is singularly Federation. The fact that Starfleet Medical even HAS starships makes the mind tingle just a bit. A terrific design, great overall mission, cool cameo in the TNG finally, fun mentions in DS9, and I want to see this series NOW!
See a mistake? Disagree with the choices? Let us know in the comments or find us on social media. Thanks again to LCARS GFX for the use of the graphic. See more here.