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The advent of the ''Excelsior'' design and transwarp are referenced in [[Diane Carey]]'s [[novels|novel]] ''[[Battlestations!]]'' and also the non-canon licensed reference [[Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise|Mr. Scott's Guide to the ''Enterprise'']] by [[Shane Johnson]]. Shiplists and specifications of many unseen and conjectural ''Excelsior''-class vessels are included in many [[Games|role-playing game]] supplements such as the [[Federation Starship Recognition Manual]] and the [[Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer's Manual|TNG Officer's Manual]] from [[FASA]], and the [[Decipher]] sourcebook [[Starships (Decipher)|Starships]], although much of the information conflicts with other sources.
The advent of the ''Excelsior'' design and transwarp are referenced in [[Diane Carey]]'s [[novels|novel]] ''[[Battlestations!]]'' and also the non-canon licensed reference [[Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise|Mr. Scott's Guide to the ''Enterprise'']] by [[Shane Johnson]]. Shiplists and specifications of many unseen and conjectural ''Excelsior''-class vessels are included in many [[Games|role-playing game]] supplements such as the [[Federation Starship Recognition Manual]] and the [[Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer's Manual|TNG Officer's Manual]] from [[FASA]], and the [[Decipher]] sourcebook [[Starships (Decipher)|Starships]], although much of the information conflicts with other sources.

Revision as of 02:29, November 21, 2004

The original Excelsior.
Original Configuration
Type:Heavy cruiser
Length:467 meters
Beam:185 meters
Height:100 meters
Armament:12 dual phaser banks; 4 torpedo launchers
Defenses:Deflector shields
The USS Enterprise-B.
Refit Configuration
Length:469 meters
Beam:185 meters
Height:100 meters
Mass:2,350,000 metric tons
Armament:12 dual phaser banks; 4 torpedo launchers
Defenses:Deflector shields, ablative armor (in later models)

The Excelsior-class is a type of Federation starship first built in the 2280s. The prototype of these ships, the USS Excelsior (NX-2000) was initially fitted with a transwarp drive and proclaimed "the Great Experiment". The ship had an ignoble start when its engines failed when it was called into action to prevent the theft of the USS Enterprise from Spacedock in 2285. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)


Although the "great experiment" of the transwarp drive failed to create a revolution in the nature of warp speeds and space travel, the Excelsior spaceframe was still the most advanced design in Starfleet. After prototype runs, some modifications were made, such as a different bridge structure and a different shuttle-bay structure to the NCC-2000 class-ship. Several variations of the original design have continued in service up to the Dominion War.

Design and Construction History

In the 23rd century, the most advanced ship in Starfleet was the Constitution-class of heavy cruiser. By the latter decades of that century, the Constitution was an aging design. While revitalized by a refit configuration in the 2270s, there was simply no way around the fact that ships of that class were all twenty to forty years old.

In 2285, Harry Morrow stated that Enterprise was twenty years old, however, according to many sources (such as backstory in TOS: "The Menagerie, Part II" and TAS:"The Counter-Clock Incident") the ship must have been just about forty.

The Constitution was showing its age in engagements and endurance as the threats to Federation safety from the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Star Empire increased, Starfleet was in need of a starship that could supplant the highly succesful Constitution. Further, this new vessel would haved to exceed the standards of duration, speed and firepower of its venerable predecessor.

When Starfleet approved the idea of constructing a vessel equipped with a transwarp propulsion system, one prototype starship was built, to test the theory that transwarp was indeed possible. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Failure of the Great Experiment

By 2285, the USS Excelsior NX-2000 was assigned to the command of Captain Styles, and ordered out of San Francisco Fleet Yards Spacedock where she would begin her trial runs. Given the complexity and experimental nature of the transwarp drive, the engineering department was headed up by newly promoted Captain Montgomery Scott, recently transferred over from the soon-to-be decommissioned Enterprise.

But before the Excelsior could put out for her final shakedown cruise, Admiral James T. Kirk and his crew stole the Enterprise from Spacedock. As Enterprise sped away, it seemed a natural chance for Starfleet Command to see what exactly the Excelsior could do and to prove for once and for all that the Excelsior was indeed the next evolution in space frame and propulsion technology. When the ship failed to achieve even warp speed and pursue the stolen Enterprise, it was obvious to many the Great Experiment had not succeeded.

It was theorized by Okuda in the Star Trek Chronology that this ship-wide systems failure might have been the one referenced by Data when he mentioned no Federation vessel having such a problem in over 80 years in TNG: "Evolution."

After-action reports indicated that Captain Scott had succeeded in completely and totally sabotaging the transwarp drive. The complexity of its design was its downfall, and the Excelsior returned to spacedock under impulse power. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Early History

Despite the fact that the transwarp experiment had failed to deliver a revolution in space travel, the Excelsior was the most advanced ship in the fleet, and the spaceframe was still considered a success. After the final shakedown of the USS Excelsior — now equipped with only a standard warp drive — Starfleet ordered the construction of additional vessels.

Additional Excelsior starships were seen throughout the runs of The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, and Voyager.

Construction and Refit

The Excelsior was somewhat modified after its prototype runs, but several years later, a new variant added several modifications to the basic design. One ship of this modification was the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-B. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek: Generations)

Despite the problems with the original design, Starfleet was still content with the existing space frame, ordering the construction of a large number of additional Excelsior vessels over the coming decades.

Many Excelsiors seen in TNG and later series have high registry numbers concurrent with the ships being built decades after the prototype.

Series of this vessel were equipped with dilithium recompositing and recrystalization technology. However, the theta-matrix compositer used in later Galaxy-class ships makes the recrystallization process ten times more efficient than the Excelsior-class. (TNG: "Family")

The Future

By the late 24th century the Excelsior remains in service, almost a century after the class was originally conceived. (VOY: "Endgame", DS9: "What You Leave Behind", et al.)

With Excelsior class ships serving in the bulk of the fleet in engagements against both the Borg and the Dominion, the vessels have seen a high attrition rate. However, in combat missions, refit and rearmed Excelsiors such as the USS Lakota have been successful in matching almost the firepower of a Defiant class escort. However, it seems unlikely that new Excelsiors are slated for construction.

The Lakota upgrade was mentioned in DS9: "Paradise Lost".


Main Bridge

Located on top of the primary hull, the Excelsior Main Bridge directly supervises all primary mission operations and coordindates all departmental activities. Due to the age and variety of configurations of the Excelsior-class, bridge configurations can vary from ship to ship.

Excelsior Bridge 1
Caption:The Main Bridge.
Excelsior Bridge 3
Caption:The main viewscreen.

Against the aft wall of many Excelsior bridges is 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.

The Excelsior bridge was a partial set in Star Trek III. In Star Trek VI, the Excelsior bridge was a redress of the Enterprise bridge used in that movie, and was similar in many ways to the NCC-1701-B bridge seen in Generations. The set was rebuilt from scratch, with some changes in detail and scale, for the production of VGR: "Flashback." Since the later Excelsior bridges are completely dissimilar to the one seen in Star Trek III, we must suppose that that part of the ship was completely refurbished at some point.


Senior officers, such as the captain, had private quarters belowdecks. Many of the enlisted crew and junior officers shared quarters and bunk areas.

Crew accomodations were seen in Star Trek VI, and again in VGR: "Flashback."


The original Excelsior was outfitted with 12 dual phaser emplacements and four photon torpedo launch ports in the late 23rd century.

Uprated Excelsiors of different modifications exist in later years. In the 2370s, some Excelsiors like the USS Lakota were outfitted with additional phaser emplacements, quantum torpedoes, and other improvements to make the ship competitive with later designs. All of these modifications were made using existing ports, from the external appearance of the vessel there are few physical modifications visible.

The Lakota was a relabel of the Enterprise-B model, and while its enhancements were mentioned in dialogue, no additional weapons were added to the exterior of the model. The Defiant crew seemed surprised to see advanced armament on an old-style Excelsior.


The Excelsior-class' shuttlebay is located at the dorsal bow of the ship, and houses several shuttles of different types. There is also a large cargo hangar in the lower decks of the secondary hull.

These features are visible on the detailed studio models.

Ships commissioned





The original Excelsior-class was a physical filming model designed by Bill George and built at Industrial Light and Magic for Star Trek III. The model also appeared in Star Trek IV and was relabeled for use in the first two seasons of The Next Generation. The model was refurbished for its appearance in Star Trek VI. The model was again refurbished, with entirely new arrangements and details to represent a refit modification, the NCC-1701-B in Generations. The refit modifications were designed by John Eaves under the supervision of production designer Herman Zimmerman. Since the original model was no longer in its original configuration, a new one was built by Greg Jein when the Excelsior appeared in VGR: "Flashback," at a smaller scale. This model continued to be reused until a CGI Excelsior was built for later seasons of DS9 and VGR. Despite its age, the Excelsior has become one of Starfleet's most frequently seen "guest-star" vessels.

Some technical data about the specs of the refit Excelsior-class vessels is taken from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual, written by the show's technical staff. While this data is official, it may be later contradicted by canon sources and disregarded.


Some fandom works interject that this class was named in honor of a lost-in-action USS Excelsior NCC-1718, of a subclass of the Constitution design. This is due to the fact that this ship name was originally proposed in the auxiliary list of possible Constitution ship names circulated behind-the-scenes in the last two years of The Original Series. This list was the basis of a ship list (the Bon Homme Richard-subclass) in Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual. This is how that ship's existence was further perpetuated, even though that manual is no longer taken as a canon reference by the producers.

The advent of the Excelsior design and transwarp are referenced in Diane Carey's novel Battlestations! and also the non-canon licensed reference Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise by Shane Johnson. Shiplists and specifications of many unseen and conjectural Excelsior-class vessels are included in many role-playing game supplements such as the Federation Starship Recognition Manual and the TNG Officer's Manual from FASA, and the Decipher sourcebook Starships, although much of the information conflicts with other sources.

This is a featured article. At the time it was featured it was considered one of the best examples of the Memory Alpha community's work. If you see a way this page can be improved further though, we invite you to contribute.
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