At its best Star Trek is about the quest for exploration in the depths of space. This is made possible by the many Star Trek starships, each helmed by a Starfleet captain. It isn’t unusual for these starships to steal the show, so naturally we decided to pick the best of the best.
We aren’t talking about necessarily the most powerful, because that would discount older starships (like the original Enterprise) which are no less deserving of recognition, and this list would just be filled with starships designed exclusively for war. Instead, we’re taking the whole package into account: the ship’s design, its status, and its achievements. But, we’ll be honest, mostly the design.
Another standard that the ships need to meet is that they must be somewhat significant. So, while the Akira class is drop dead gorgeous, there are no notable Akira class ships within the Star Trek series or Star Trek movies to choose from. Finally, we also have to state our biases. When it comes to starship design, nothing comes close to Star Trek’s TNG, Voyager, Deep Space Nine golden era, so expect these to dominate the list. Now that’s all out of the way, let’s dive into the best Star Trek starships.
What are the best Star Trek starships?
- USS Titan
- USS Reliant
- USS Stargazer
- USS Defiant
- USS Enterprise
The USS Titan occupies a mythic space among starships. The Starfleet vessel, helmed most famously by Captain Riker, is rarely seen but still legendary in its status. In fact, the best look we get at the USS Titan is in the Star Trek animated series Lower Decks.
And, that’s enough. The ship cruises into battle to save the USS Cerritos from Pakled attackers, in a glorious blaze of action and phaser fire which forces it into recognition. It also helps that the Luna class vessels are an aesthetic treat, with their underslung warp nacelles giving a sense of robustness, speed, and confidence.
USS Reliant (NCC-1864)
The USS Reliant is a Miranda class starship, and that alone would secure its place on the list. The Miranda class vessels might not be flashy, but their simple beauty often goes underappreciated. In fact, it might just be the best looking class of starship ever commissioned by Starfleet.
Beyond that, the USS Reliant also justifies its placement on this list because of its important role in The Wrath of Khan. The Reliant was commandeered by Khan as he sought to enact his revenge on Admiral Kirk and it’s the ship that goes toe-to-toe with the Enterprise in the battle of the Mutara nebula. The sight of the starship cruising through the purple gas, hunting for the Enterprise couldn’t be more menacing. That’s due to striking design, and not just the villainous Star Trek characters aboard it.
USS Stargazer (NCC-82893)
The USS Stargazer had to be on this list, but deciding between the two variations of the ship was easily the hardest decision to make. The Constellation class vessel on which Captain Picard served (and first became a Star Trek captain) has an undeniably attractive retro-quality to it. The four warp nacelles (instead of the typical two) make it stand out as worthy of attention, and it helps that the ship is often seen enshrined in a golden model in Picard’s ready room.
But, it’s hard to deny that the Sagan class Stargazer seen in Star Trek: Picard is an upgrade. With the wider nacelles, the ship looks much more suited to speeding through the vastness of space, and the sharper edges give it a sense of intimidation that the Constellation class does lack. It also looks much better balanced than Picard’s old Stargazer, which seems uncertain in its own skin. Hopefully, we get a closer look at the beautiful USS Stargazer of the 25th century in future series, or Star Trek: Picard season 3.
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D)
The name ‘Enterprise’ has graced the hull of many Starfleet starships, and the Enterprise has often acted as a thread of continuity between Star Trek series. But, because Star Trek takes place over the course of centuries, the USS Enterprise has had many different forms.
Each is notable in their own way, but no list of the best Star Trek starships would be complete without the USS Enterprise-D. This is the Galaxy class vessel captained by Jean-Luc Picard during the course of TNG, acting as the stage for one of the best TV series of all time.
The Enterprise-D is the perfect visual representation of the Star Trek series which it leads. It’s graceful, and while it has impressive combat capabilities it looks far more like a cruise liner than it does any kind of military vessel. It’s the physical representation of an era where Starfleet was confident, hopeful, and (largely) at peace with the galaxy before the Dominion War. The USS Enterprise-D is timeless, and there’s no Star Trek starship that we’d rather be aboard when exploring the depths of the galaxy.
USS Defiant (NX-74205)
The USS Defiant is, famously, a tough little ship. Unlike the Galaxy class Enterprise which had over 1000 crew members at any given time (not to mention a large number of civilians), the Defiant is occupied by a comparatively tiny crew of up to 50, and the ship is closer in size to a runabout. This is because the USS Defiant is Starfleet’s first ship designed solely for the purpose of combat.
The Defiant class vessels were created to take on the Borg, before also playing a key role in the Dominion War. That unique purpose is reflected in the unusual shape of the Star Trek starship, which eschews the typical circular style in favour of something more pointed, and sharp. Something else that sets the starship apart is its ablative armour and cloaking device – capabilities that no previous Starfleet starship was equipped with. If you were ever in a galactic-scrap, you’d want the USS Defiant on your team.
Those are our picks for the best Star Trek starships. For more Starfleet fun, check out our guide on the Star Trek 4 release date, as well as our explainer on the Star Trek Discovery season 5 release date and the Strange New Worlds season 2 release date.