After more than 50 years of love for all things Star Trek, ships, classes, and the star systems themselves have been memorized, mapped, and methodically categorized by obsessed fans. Some know these ships from command deck to engineering room, and these are just a small sampling of the most popular Star Trek Federation ships out there! If you’re hoping to boldly go where no man has gone before, use our guide to the ships of Star Trek to find the best vessel for your trip through space!
Welcome to Starfleet!
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Ignoring enemy ships, like those of the Borg and Klingons, our online ship guide of Star Trek vehicles covers those built by Starfleet, the organization dedicated to exploration, defense, peacekeeping, and research, which was created by the United Federation of Planets. We might think of the Federation as “the good guys,” but that’s what’s so unique about the series: The “good guy” and “bad guy” dynamic can be nuanced, with characters questioning morality and ethics of every decision by each Federation captain.
The most famous Starfleet ship is possibly the NC-1701 model of the USS Enterprise. Star Trek first aired with that now-iconic small model of the ship; however, there have been many different versions of the Enterprise Star Trek ship: there have been ship models from NCC-1701-A to NCC-1701-J with alternative timeline and mirror universe versions to boot!
There was a real USS Enterprise.
But there’s something very special about the Star Trek Enterprise ship name: the factitious ship pulled its name from history, but later inspired history. Before Captain Kirk and his friends sailed into the stars, real soldiers sailed on the CVN-6 and CVN-65 aircraft carriers, as well as a few schooners and sailing vessels. The CVN-65 was particularly noteworthy for being the first-ever nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
Later, after the show became hugely popular, there was a real space shuttle named after the show! The White House received “hundreds of thousands of letters” from fans asking them to name the shuttle after the Enterprise ship Star Trek made famous. It certainly feels like traveling to a parallel universe! This process of Star Trek being inspired by and later inspiring scientific advancements is somewhat of a trend in its history.
Explore space, the final frontier.
If the series influences and inspires scientific discoveries, why haven’t Star Trek ships been made into a reality? To quote Scotty, it’s because you “can’t change the laws of physics.” While some scientists think warp speed might be theoretically possible, it’s a golden rule of physics that one can’t move faster than the speed of light. While it would be exciting, believing that we will someday soon hop across the Milky Way to discover tribbles would be most illogical.
That doesn’t mean everything to do with the ships of Star Trek is impossible. While a lot of rhetoric that’s thrown around could be techno-babble, other phrases like “matter-antimatter reaction” have gotten physicists to think creatively about the possibilities.
Resistance is futile.
Of course, Starfleet has more than the USS Enterprise for fans to obsess over. Other Star Trek ship names are included in the names of other shows like Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Ship models change from show to show as well, with Star Trek: The Next Generation having its own style of ships and shuttles. That’s not even touching upon the Kelvin timeline ships, that of the 2009 Star Trek film, as well as Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond.
While not everyone will memorize ship names and model numbers of the many Star Trek ships out there, it’s hard to resist the pull of the inclusive culture and fascinating possibilities of the fictional universe. Whichever type of fan you might be, use our guide to Federation ships, explore away, live long, and prosper!