Affiliation United Federation of Planets / Starfleet
Year Beginning Service 2287
Design Specifications
Ship Type Cruiser
Length 467 meters
Beam 186 meters
Height 78 meters
Crew 550
Tactical Specifications
Armament 4 banks - RSM-208 single mount, 4 Photon Torpedo Tubes (Two Forward, Two Aft)
Defenses Deflector Shields
Engineering Spefications
Top Speeds Warp 8.0 (Standard Cruising), Warp 9.0 (Maximum Cruising), Warp 9.3 (Maximum Attainable)
Impulse Engines Two Impulse systems


The Excelsior-class was initially constructed during the early 2280s at Starfleet's San Francisco Fleet Yards orbiting Earth. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country dedication plaque)

Starfleet had high hopes for the first ship of this class, the prototype USS Excelsior, which was equipped with transwarp drive, and was regarded as that century's "Great Experiment." (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

'See: Trial runs for more concise details of the USS Excelsiors early history.

Despite the failure of the "Great Experiment," Starfleet forged ahead with employing the Excelsior design. After remaining in Earth Spacedock until at least 2287, the prototype Excelsior was subsequently recommissioned for active service by 2290. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

In 2293, the fate of the Excelsior design was sealed when Starfleet passed on the name of a legacy. The launch of the USS Enterprise-B opened the door for the Excelsior-class to become one of the most widely used designs in all of Starfleet, a design lasting well into the late 24th century. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Star Trek Generations; TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint" – VOY: "Endgame")

Once fully integrated into the fleet, the Excelsior's sister ships were used for a variety of mission profiles, ranging from deep space exploration and terraforming missions, to patrol duty, to courier and transport runs. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; TNG: "Tin Man", "The Drumhead", "Brothers", "Allegiance"; DS9: "Homefront", "For the Uniform", etc.) The Excelsior-class was also frequently used by the Starfleet admiralty for use as a personal flagship. (TNG: "The Offspring", "The Best of Both Worlds", "Chain of Command, Part I", "Descent", "Preemptive Strike")

The Excelsior-class was present in several major Federation engagements, including the Borg invasion of 2366-2367, where it participated at the Battle of Wolf 359, as well as the engagement against the Borg sphere that entered the Sol system in 2378. (DS9: "Emissary"; VOY: "Unity", "Endgame") They were also present in numerous Dominion War battles, seeing action during Operation Return, the First and Second Battles of Chin'toka, and the Battle of Cardassia. Many Excelsior-class vessels were stationed near Deep Space 9 during the war. (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels", "Tears of the Prophets", "The Changing Face of Evil", "What You Leave Behind", etc.)

Knowledge of this class would be retained well into the 31st century, when Captain Jonathan Archer and Lieutenant Malcolm Reed viewed schematics on the class in the 22nd century while accessing the database belonging to temporal agent Daniels. (ENT: "Shockwave")

Technical Data

Physical arrangement

The Excelsior-class featured the saucer section-engineering section-warp nacelle layout common to most Starfleet vessels. However, it featured a more streamlined design than was seen in previous classes.

Design features of the primary hull included a docking port located on the port side of the hull. (DS9: "Chrysalis")

Design upgrades

Following its initial, and somewhat unsuccessful origins, the Excelsior underwent a minor refit, which included a new bridge module, in addition to a significant modification to the aft portion of the saucer section, surrounding the impulse drive, and a modification to the cargo bay on the aft ventral portion of the ship. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

In less than a decade, the Excelsior design underwent a second, more significant overhaul, as introduced with the launch of the Enterprise-B. While remaining true to the original configuration, several modifications to the basic hull design were made, including the addition of a second pair of impulse engines, expanded scoop surrounding the deflector dish, and the addition and removal of a number of fins located on the saucer and nacelles. (Star Trek Generations; DS9: "Paradise Lost")

As this class aged, Starfleet continued to incorporate the latest technology, through continued upgrades, refits and repairs, well into the 2360s and 2370s. In 2364, the USS Melbourne underwent significant repairs at Starbase 74, while in 2367 the USS Hood underwent a major system upgrade at Starbase 174. (TNG: "11001001", "Brothers", etc.)

Tactical systems

The original Excelsior design was outfitted with 5 dual phaser emplacements on the forward saucer section, and one dual emplacement on the aft of the saucer. Phaser emplacements were also positioned laterally, located port and starboard, near the point that the primary and secondary hulls meet, as well as one emplacement located between the nacelles. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Star Trek Generations production art; DS9: "Paradise Lost", etc.)

In addition, the Excelsior was equipped with two forward and two aft photon torpedo launchers. Located in the forward section, above the deflector dish, were additional port and starboard torpedo launchers, which were capable of retracting into the ship and taking in craft up to the size of a workbee. In addition, the shields were stronger than the Constitution class refit, capable of withstanding a direct photon torpedo strike without suffering any visible damage to the outer hull. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Star Trek Generations production art)

With the impending threat of the Dominion against the Federation, Starfleet began to experiment, in 2372, with performing a refit on the Excelsior-class USS Lakota. Upgrades included improved phaser emplacements, quantum torpedoes, and other improvements to make the ship competitive with such ship designs as the Defiant-class. (DS9: "Paradise Lost")

Propulsion systems

Initially the Excelsior was designed under a radically new principle in propulsion, the transwarp drive. While an awe-inspiring concept to some, it was the traditional engineers who remained skeptical of this new form of warp drive. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) Following this failure, the Excelsior spent the next two years in spacedock before being fitted with a traditional warp drive. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

By the early 24th century, Excelsior-class vessels were normally equipped with dilithium recompositing and recrystallization technology. The theta-matrix compositor of the time, which later became outdated, was upgraded by the time the Galaxy-class was introduced. This new recrystallization process was ten times more efficient than that of the Excelsior-class. (TNG: "Family")

The Excelsior-class also used micro-power relays in its warp core matrix compositor. (DS9: "For the Uniform")

Interior Design

Main bridge

Located on top of the primary hull, the Excelsior's main bridge directly supervised all primary mission operations and coordinated all departmental activities. Due to the age and variety of configurations of the Excelsior-class, bridge configurations varied from ship to ship.

Against the aft wall of many Excelsior bridges was the large engineering master systems display monitor, showing a cutaway of the ship and status information. This was not originally part of the USS Excelsior configuration but added later, a feature shared with sister ship USS Enterprise-B. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Star Trek Generations; VOY: "Flashback")

At least one Excelsior-class starship, the USS Malinche, had a holo-communicator installed in its main bridge in 2373. Upon first use of the technology, Malinche Captain Sanders described to Captain Benjamin Sisko, who was on the transmitting end on board the USS Defiant, "you appear to be sitting on my bridge. It may take me a while to get used to this." (DS9: "For the Uniform")

Ready room

The captain's ready room was located adjacent to the bridge, and contained a desk and chair, along with a personal viewer, and was backed by several LCARS interfaces and an MSD. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection", "Tin Man"; DS9: "Paradise Lost")

Ensign Nog of Deep Space 9 once explained to Chief O'Brien how Al Lorenzo liked to sneak into famous starship captain's offices and take holophotos of himself sitting behind their desks. Included in Lorenzo's collection was a holophoto of himself sitting behind Captain DeSoto's desk on board the Hood. (DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")

Deflector room

The deflector room, located on Deck 15, Section 21-alpha, was positioned directly behind the Excelsior's deflector dish. It was a small control room that could be accessed by a series of catwalks and ladders. The deflector room housed several consoles, in addition to the ship's deflector relays. (Star Trek Generations)

Shuttle and cargo bays

The Excelsior-class contained several cargo bays, including one located in the aft dorsal section of the secondary hull as well as several bays located along the ventral section of the secondary hull. (Star Trek Generations production art) The main shuttlebay was located below the forward cargo bay in the dorsal stern of the secondary hull, which housed several shuttles of different types, including the type-7 shuttlecraft. (TNG: "The Child")


Senior officers, such as the captain, had private quarters below decks. Captain Hikaru Sulu's quarters were located on Deck 3.

Many of the enlisted crew, junior officers and officers shared quarters and bunk areas. They varied in occupant size from four to nine. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; VOY: "Flashback")

Ships Using This Class in Star Trek: Second Fleet Online

  • USS Berlin


Specifications for the ship: Memory Alpha and Ships of the Starfleet, Volume I

Pictures: From Paramount and CBS through Memory Alpha

Excelsior Class Cruiser, Refit Design


Excelsior Class Cruiser, Front View