One of the great successes of Starfleet, the Excelsior was, first and foremost, a failure. Transwarp had been the dream of Federation scientists for decades, a theoretical possibility but, for all intents and purposes, a practical improbability. That was, until the Excelsior.

Built in the late 2200s, the Excelsior NX 2000 was a break from the norm in more than just one way. Under standard operating procedures, Starfleet should have invested time and effort into testing the transwarp technology through means other than the ship it would eventually be deployed on. Remote drones and soon to be retired starships would have been ideal for experimental operations and, for a time, were used extensively. However, when push came to shove, Starfleet was feeling adventurous… and desperate.

Relations with the Klingons, while nowhere near as inhospitable as during the 2260s, could not have been referred to as “friendly” by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, each side clashed with the other almost weekly, albeit it primarily words rather than action. Past experience, however, had proven to the Federation the Klingon Empire’s willingness to do away with words altogether in favour of combat. The fear that the Empire could soon entrust its fate to the sword prompted an immediate response.

The Excelsior was the result. At first intended as a new heavy cruiser, a superior replacement for the long-serving Constitution Class, it was designed with equal longevity, capability and sturdiness in mind. The transwarp factor was not an original design intention for the engineering teams but was swiftly included in the early plans. Starfleet was told that transwarp could work; simulations proved the theory. Unfortunately, up until then the theory could not be tested practically, as no current starship had the power generation capacity or design characteristics – sleekness, size and strength – to satisfy the presumed minimum requirements of the new technology. In the argument between reasoned safety and fearful urgency, the latter won out. Transwarp technology became the Excelsior’s main propulsion system.

As history has shown, this technology failed, at least in the hands of the Federation. While the Excelsior, as a starship, surpassed all requirements placed on it – weaponry, survivability, scientific capability, range and so on – it could not break the transwarp barrier. Engineers ran its warp core beyond full power, realigned the warp coils, adjusted the plasma injectors, increased reactant flows, but all to no avail. Indeed, irrespective of the fact that the Excelsior could sustain power output levels far in excess of the Constitution, its transwarp engines could not even break the warp barrier. It was just not possible. The reasons for this were only beginning to be glimpsed in the late 24th century.

In its role as the “Great Experiment”, the Excelsior was an unmitigated failure. In its role as the premier starship of the late 2200s, it was unmatched. No Starfleet vessel could approach it on any level, pound for pound it cost as much in resources to build as the Constitution – thanks to the modular engineering techniques newly revamped to deal with larger vessels – and, on the frontlines, it was a more than competent strong fist and caring hand. The Excelsior has had such a profound and lasting impact on Starfleet that the class currently remains in service in huge numbers, outdistancing any other heavy cruiser types built by Starfleet at the time.

Even in the late 24th century the Excelsior remains one of Starfleet’s largest starships, a trend that is only now being reversed with the introduction of relative gargantuan creations like the Excalibur, the Galaxy, the Ambassador and even the Nebula. Starfleet has historically availed of its size by equipping it with advanced technologies, ranging from sensors to weapons.

Due to increased tensions in the early to mid 2370s, Starfleet began refitting its Excelsior fleet with modern tactical systems. Its phasers were increased in power, as were its shields, while its torpedo armament expanded to include the latest advancement in projectile technology, the quantum torpedo.

The Excelsior carries a wide variety of craft. As an exploratory cruiser, a type of vessel designed to be independent, flexible, tough and exploration-oriented, it must be equipped with enough support craft to allow the ship’s crew to perform their duties. As such, it carries multiple shuttles, runabouts, a transport and – a consequence of the recent unsettled times – fighters.


CategoryHeavy Cruiser
Duration70 years
Resupply3 years
Refit5 years
Cruising SpeedWarp 6.3
Maximum SpeedWarp 8.9
Emergency SpeedWarp 9.4 (for 12 hours)
Auxiliary Craft
RunaboutsDanube Runabout: 2
Delta Flyer Runabout: 1
ShuttlesType 11 Shuttle: 1
Type 6 Shuttle: 4
Type 9 Shuttle: 2
TransportsWyvern Hopper: 2
WorkpodsBrunel Workpod: 1
Defensive SystemsAblative Armour
Shielding SystemsAuto-Modulating Shields
Metaphasic Shielding
PhasersType IX Array: 8
Type X Array: 4
TorpedosBurst-Fire Torpedo Launcher: 4
– Photon Torpedoes: 304
– Quantum Torpedoes: 152
– Polaron Torpedo: 24

Deck Listing

1Bridge, Captain’s Ready Room, Briefing Room
2Junior and Senior Officers’ Quarters, VIP/Guest Quarters, Holosuite 1, VIP Dining Room, Main Communications Array
3Officers’ Quarters, Officers’ Mess, Holosuites 2 & 3, Upper Impulse Assembly, Main Shield Generators
4NCO Quarters, Enlisted Crew Mess, Galley, Lower Impulse Assembly, Fusion Reactors 1-4, Impulse Engines, Transporter Room 1
5Main Phaser and Fire Control, Auxiliary Control Room and Support, Engineering Support, Deuterium Storage, Fusion Reactors 5-8, Impulse Engines
6Primary Life Support Systems, Primary Computer Core Control, Holodecks 1 and 2, Deuterium Feed Conduits, Deuterium Injectors
7Cargo Bays 1 & 2, Cargo Transporters 1 & 2, Sickbay, Chief Medical Officer’s Office, Primary Science Labs, Counsellor’s Office, Main Computer Cores P/S (Level 1), Deuterium Feed Conduits
8Main Computer Cores P/S (Level 2), Junior Officers and Crew Quarters, Main Lounge, Secondary Science Labs, Deuterium Feed Conduits, Lateral Sensors
9Main Sensor Array, Interconnecting Dorsal/Intermix Shaft/Turbolifts, Armoury, Holding Cells, Chief Tactical Officer’s Office, Deuterium Feed Conduits, Secondary Sensor Array
10Brig, Transporter Room 2, Interconnecting Dorsal/Intermix Shaft/Turbolifts, Deuterium Storage
11Secondary Shuttlebay (Upper), Shuttle Maintenance 1, Cargo Bays 3-6, Cargo Transporter 3, Upper Engineering Support Area, Machine Shop, Deuterium Storage, Nacelle Power Transfer Assembly
12Secondary Shuttlebay (Lower), Main Engineering, M/ARA Reaction Assembly, Transporter Room 3, Cargo Transporter 4, Nacelle Power Transfer Assembly, Nacelle Personnel Conduit
13Living Quarters, Primary Systems Support Compartment, Secondary Computer Core (Level 1), Emergency Batteries, Enlisted Quarters, Secondary Communications Array
14Forward Torpedo Launchers, Torpedo Magazines, Cargo Bays 7-9, Cargo Transporter 5, Aft Tractor Emitter, Secondary Computer Core (Level 2), Reserve Deuterium Storage
15Auxiliary Deflector Control, Aft Phaser and Torpedo Weapon Control, Aft Torpedo Launcher, Torpedo Magazine, Antimatter Injectors, Secondary Computer Core (Level 3), Gravimetric Polaron Generators
16Maintenance Bay 1, Emergency Transporter Rooms 1 & 2, Enlisted Quarters
17Main Shuttlebay (Upper), Stellar Cartography, Enlisted Quarters, Recreation Deck/Zero-G Gymnasium, Crew Lounge
18Main Shuttlebay (Middle), Deflector Control, Main Navigational Deflector, Primary and Emergency Deflector Dish Graviton Polarity Generators, Subspace Field Distortion Generators
19Main Shuttlebay (Lower), Shuttle Maintenance 2, Shuttle Storage, Cargo Transporter 6 Living Quarters
20Maintenance Bay 2, Living Quarters, Tertiary Multi-purpose Laboratories, Emergency Transporter Rooms 3 & 4
21Emergency Fusion Power Generators 1 & 2, Environmental Control, Living Quarters
22Emergency Fusion Power Generators 3 & 4, Emergency Batteries, Waste Recycling, Secondary Shield Generators
23Antimatter Storage Tanks, Antimatter Fill Port, Emergency Gravimetric Polaron Generators
24Antimatter Generator, Tractor Beam Generator, Main Tractor Beam Assembly

Ships of the Line

  • USS Essex
  • USS Britannia
  • USS Reliant
  • USS Potemkin
  • USS Lexington
  • USS Yorktown
  • USS Republic
  • USS Victory