Excelsior Class

From Bravo Fleet
This article is official Bravo Fleet canon.


The Excelsior-class heavy cruiser was arguably the most important and iconic design used by the Federation Starfleet across the entirety of the 24th century. Initially dubbed “The Great Experiment,” the class revolutionized shipbuilding and introduced a number of technological advancements that led directly to the change in the official warp scale in the year 2300. They have served as dedicated workhorses, capable of almost any mission within Federation space, even proving their worth as combat vessels in conflicts as late as the Dominion War. Built until the 2350s, the last of the Excelsior -class starships were berthed into drydock and refitted into the modern Excelsior II-class starships by 2399.

Science and Exploration

Excelsior-class starships have been used both as frontline explorers and as scientific platforms for use within Federation space. In their day, they were the most capable explorers Starfleet had, but their scientific facilities in the 2390s lag far behind more modern ships. One advantage they have over smaller, more modern ships is ample space for mission-configurable labs and sensors. It is rare to have an Excelsior-class ship posted on a true exploratory mission in the present era, but they’re often dispatched on scientific surveys to follow up on discoveries made by more modern ships. They remain relatively fast and as fewer of them are devoted to front-line duties, they make excellent transports for scientific expeditions in areas where a science vessel might be more vulnerable.


Excelsior-class ships have long been used as transports for flag officers and ambassadors, thanks to their good speed and tactical abilities, though they have fallen out of favor in recent decades. They continue to be used for this purpose with smaller crews, however, especially by flag officers who prefer not to tie up a more modern asset. They have long served as a symbol of the Federation and have an instantly-recognizable silhouette, and their relative economy makes them preferable to larger ships for lower-tier negotiations.

These ships have several onboard conference lounges but are inferior to their successor classes in terms of space to host diplomatic entourages.


This class is a refinement of the general geometry at work in the Constitution-class, with two long, slender nacelles and a stretched secondary hull that gives this ship the appearance of speed, while still retaining the obvious and immediate impression that it is absolutely a Federation starship. She would eventually prove to be the inspiration for the later Sovereign-class.

This class was initially developed to test the efficacy of what was then-dubbed transwarp drive, an engine design that went far beyond the speeds of “standard” warp drives, which used symmetrical semi-toroidal warp nacelles to create a more complex warp field geometry that would achieve greater efficiency than the various other configurations which had been tried. Projections for this were that the ship would be able to achieve speeds up to ten times greater than the Constitution-class. While it did provide substantial gains in speed, the Excelsior-class ended up being only three times as fast as her predecessor, and this was only after extensive calibrations and experimentation. Still, this led to the end of the Cochrane Warp Scale and the introduction of the Revised Warp Scale.

These ships have seen service for so long that their design characteristics are very well-known, which has eased maintenance needs as they have aged. They are still more intensive than more modern ships of their size, but their minimum crew requirements have been reduced from 380 to 200 (in terms of engineering personnel) with more automation. This was beneficial during the Dominion War, as it allowed them to pare down their crew sizes to help man ships coming off the assembly line and out of the mothball yards.

These ships contain three shuttle bays, one forward in the neck which also connects to secondary cargo bays, one aft which is the primary facility for small craft launch and retrieval, and a larger bay in the undercut of the secondary hull that also connects to the main cargo bays.

Excelsior-class ships have received incremental upgrades over the years to nearly every system, which has led to considerable internal variation among the vessels of this class.


The Excelsior-class starship was the first vessel to be equipped with the Type-VIII phaser ball turrets, which offered a considerable improvement over the earlier Type-VII banks in use aboard the Constitution. These were mounted in ten double banks on the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the saucer, as opposed to just six on the Constitution, as well as four single banks on the ventral surface of the engineering hull. In addition to this, there are six torpedo launchers, two standard mounts fore, and aft, as well as two retractable mounts in the forward shuttle bay.

The ship was also initially built with the most powerful shielding available, which made her one of the most powerful ships in the quadrant, more than a match for a comparable Klingon or Romulan design. As they were upgraded over the years, they remained a sturdy cruiser for large fleet engagements, though a number of them were destroyed.

By 2399, most of these vessels have received the upgrades developed for the USS Lakota, including phasers that have been upgraded to Type-X standards mounted in the same position as emitter banks as the original ball turrets. They also have the ability to fire quantum torpedoes, though they seldom carry them.

Excelsior-class ships are often used for pirate interdiction, customs inspection, and general patrol duties.

Shipboard Life

Though she has proved venerable in service, the Excelsior-class is still an old-style starship and has more cramped interiors than other more modern vessels. As her crew requirements have lessened, some improvements have been made to their accommodation standard, but enlisted personnel still generally sleep in bunk rooms and ensigns and junior lieutenants share quarters. They have been retrofitted with holodecks and other modern conveniences, but lack the shipwide holographic projectors common to other ships.

Excelsior-class medical facilities are well-equipped, which makes them suited for humanitarian missions. They also have ample cargo space, which can be used as emergency triaging facilities or to transport cargo in bulk. Because of this, these ships are often sent on transport or mercy missions, and their crews don’t see a lot of combat.

Officers aboard these vessels tend to be quite junior, as it’s not a particularly important posting. Some captains are brand new and some have been aboard their ships for 20 or 30 years, however, as the sentimental attraction to these vessels is great.

Class History

Dubbed the Great Experiment, the Excelsior-class was meant to revolutionize space travel, which it did but not to the degree that Starfleet had hoped. The new engine designs used aboard this craft led to speeds up to triple those of previous heavy cruisers, but this fell far short of the projections of speeds coming ten or twenty times that. Excelsior herself was used as a testbed for several years as kinks were worked out, but this work eventually led to the development of the Revised Warp Scale which placed Warp 10 as unlimited speed, rather than continuing to add warp factors to the previous Cochrane Scale.

These ships immediately proved to be such a marked improvement over the Constitution that many Constitution-class ships were retired well before their end-of-life date had been reached. Some of the advancements were applied to contemporary classes like the Miranda-class, but the new heavy cruiser design, the Constellation was a ground-up reconfiguration of Constitution-class components that was thought a better use of resources than continuing to refit the Constitution, so two generations of technology continued in production together for several years.

Originally designated officially as a super-heavy cruiser (to avoid the distinction of ‘battleship’), this class became the standard for showing the Federation flag for over seventy years, participating in exploratory missions and combat missions to great acclaim. Several generations of Starfleet officers cut their teeth on these ships, which has led to considerable emotional attachment to the class.

The Excelsior-class was dominant in a period of Starfleet’s history where the Federation was largely at peace, so they were rarely tested in their combat roles in any serious way, until the Cardassian Wars in the 2350s, and then later the Borg conflict, and the Dominion War, where a significant portion of them were lost. By the time of the Borg and Dominion threats, it became apparent that at the Excelsior's prime, the Federation was in a state of complacency with its neighbors. Throughout much of the ship's lifespan, the Federation was at relative peace: the Romulan Star Empire was in isolation, the Klingon Empire was the Federation's closest ally, and no other neighbors were direct threats. This led to the Excelsior being both ubiquitous and severely outdated by those later conflicts.

This class was succeeded in production by the Nebula-class in the 2360s. With modernizations, they continued into service until the design of the Excelsior II-class design. With the resounding success of the more modern Excelsior, all remaining Excelsior-class starships were ordered back to drydock to undergo complete overhauls into the new designs. By 2399, no remaining Excelsiors were deployed by Starfleet with the upgrade program to the Excelsior IIs being complete.

Enterprise subtype

Like any ship class, changes were made to the Excelsior throughout her build program. While most of these were relatively minor and left little outward appearance of change evident, in 2293 a very significant change was authorized for the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-B which was then in the later stages of construction. These included an extra set of impulse engines on the saucer section, flares on the side of the engineering hull, and a minor change in configuration for the warp nacelles. These changes were a result of the recently decommissioned USS Enteprise NCC-1701-A confrontation with the Bird-of-Prey commanded by the conspirator General Chang. The advent of Klingon vessels that could fire while under cloak was understandably alarming to Starfleet planners, as well as the possibility of this technology falling into the hands of the Romulans via Ambassador Nanclus.

Faced with the possibility of enemy craft that could evade the sensors of Starfleet's best ships, designers at the Advanced Starship Design Bureau hastily made changes to the Excelsior design to help combat this newly perceived threat. The advanced sensor systems that had assisted the Excelsior and Enterprise in their battle against Chang were not part of the standard sensor package on Starfleet ships at that point, and so they were integrated into the main sensor array. This would, however, necessitate the forward shift of many other systems of the class' sensor systems and navigational deflector which resulted in the hull flares that flanked the deflector. Additional impulse engines were also added outboard of the standard main engine systems in the hopes of improving the maneuvering systems of the class in the face of the threat of engagements with larger numbers of smaller, highly maneuverable Klingon attack craft.

Following the successful completion of the Enterprise-B, forty-five of the following ships of the class were completed to the altered design. While a technical success, the alternate configuration was simply one that was created to face a threat that never materialized. Chang's Bird of Prey ended up being the only ship to be equipped with the experimental cloaking system. It turned out that the system had been developed by several isolated engineers with Chang taking the secrets of the completed system to his grave. The Romulan government also never deployed the system, either because they lacked access or because of its inherent weaknesses. By the time the Treaty of Algeron was signed in 2311, the changing political climate minimized threats from both the Romulans and Klingons. The former had retreated beyond the Neutral Zone into a period of isolationism while relations with the latter had been improving ever since the Khitomer conference and the likelihood of a direct conflict seemed remote.

This new reality would combine with technical changes to spell the end of the variant build program. By 2310, the advanced sensors that the vessels had been outfitted with had become part of the standard sensor package on all Starfleet ships. The promised increased maneuverability of the additional impulse engines had never truly lived up to Starfleet's expectations, and it was becoming increasingly felt that the hull space that was given up for additional impulse reactors and engine systems could be put to better use in order to house advanced scientific equipment and facilities. By 2315, all following Excelsiors were once again built to the original configuration. The altered design has been variously referred to as the “Enteprise-class”, the “long-hull group”, or the “Excelsior refit”. However, Starfleet never held any institutional difference between the long-hull and standard Excelsior configurations, and refits and upgrades had been applied to both groups equally in the intervening years leaving little difference, aside from the obvious cosmetic ones, between the two.

Like the Excelsior, the Enterprise subtypes still in service were upgraded to the Excelsior II design by 2399.

In Play

  • The Excelsior-class was a very old design, but it is the first 'modern' starship design in the sense that it represents such a step above the preceding classes in terms of warp power and size.
  • By 2399, all Excelsior-class ships have been reconfigured as Excelsior II-class vessels. Because of how relatively ubiquitous within Federation space the Excelsior was, the Exlcesior II is an extremely common sight.
  • The Excelsior-class and its Enterprise subtype, formerly referred to as the Excelsior-class refit, are nearly identical, other than cosmetically.