In a universe where “faster than you can blink” is a reality, and not just a mere expression. Where vessels can travel from Earth to Jupiter before Usain Bolt can finish tying his spikes. We cast a glance at the quickest ships in the Star Trek franchise and come up with a debate-sparking list.
The thing that makes the Star Trek franchise so special is how it seemingly has a little something for everyone, be it films or series or conventions, videogames, and so on. This theme of diversity has been an underlying trait of the 42-billion-dollar empire since creator Gene Rodden’s “controversial” use of a multi-racial cast in the original Star Trek series (TOS). It is not surprising that diversity has also extended to the speed-freak in all of us. With the capacity for light-speed travel in our own boring reality still a distant dream, we can only examine the fictional world’s most rapid, and diverse, machines and dream of what could be.
17. Sh’Raan (2152-)
A magnificent piece of Vulcan engineering, the Sh’Raan was part of the Suurok class of Vulcan High Command combat cruisers. The ship made its debut in the series Star Trek: Enterprise, when its crew was tasked with transporting an important witness in a matter concerning the Mazarite High Council.
The ship is rumored to have been capable of speeds of up to Warp 7.
16. IKS Bortas, Vor’cha Class (Unknown-)
One of the most powerful weapons in the Klingon Empire’s fleet, the Bortas was an all-round attack cruiser that often aided the USS Enterprise-D in Star Trek: The Next Generation. It also played a critical role as Klingon Chancellor Gowron’s ship in the Klingon civil war spanning from 2367-2368.
Official numbers are unknown but it was proven to be incredibly quick in TNG. A safe guess would be somewhere in the Warp 7.5-9 range.
15. USS Vengeance, Dreadnought Class (2259-2259 in Kelvin timeline)
This ship was a covert operations vessel tasked with off-the-record reconnaissance and hit missions that would not leave a trail back to the Federation. Vengeance made her on-screen debut in the 2009 Star Trek film, where her speed was highlighted when she caught up to the Enterprise in a warp-speed chase. This puts the Vengeance’s performance levels at Warp 8 at the very least.
14. IKS Hegh’ta, Bird-of-Prey Class (Unknown-)
One of the stars of the Defence Force during the Klingon civil war, the Hegh’ta was a seriously rapid piece of machinery commanded by Captain Kurn. Its performance capabilities were fully on the show as it successfully defended the incumbent Chancellor Gowron’s flagship, the IKS Bortas, from rebel vessels.
One of the most iconic scenes in Star Trek: The Next Generation saw the Hegh’ta, in full warp flight, lead two pursuing rebel Klingon ships into a solar flare.
13. The Jellyfish (2387-Unknown/Destroyed in an alternate reality)
The Vulcan Science Academy launched the pacey Jellyfish in 2387 and it was immediately thrust into action by Ambassador Spock who sought to stop a supernova of the Romulan sun and saves the planet Romulus and the Milky Way Galaxy. Spock fully utilized the full Warp 8 under the hood and shot the red matter onboard into the exploding sun, which had the adverse effect of creating a black hole. The ship was sucked into the anomaly along with a hostile Romulan ship, the Narada, only to re-emerge a quarter of a century later. It was promptly captured by the Narada and relieved of its precious red matter, which the Romulans would use to destroy the planet Vulcan. The Jellyfish’s fate in the main story reality is still unknown.
Events following the creation of the black hole sparked the creation of the alternate reality, where a younger version of Spock managed to steal back the ship and steered it straight towards the Narada in true kamikaze-style. The Jellyfish was destroyed in the collision, but the ever-reliable Montgomery Scott was on hand to beam Commander Spock onto the Enterprise at the last moment.
Details of speed are unknown but the Jellyfish was considered to be the fastest of all Vulcan starships.
12. USS Defiant, Defiant Class (2366-2375)
A bonafide battle cruiser, the Defiant was a Federation speed machine that could easily run rings around any opponent. Its warp factor of 9.2 was reliable enough to keep it out of enemy firing range in most situations.
The first iteration first appeared in the series Deep Space 9 and the film First Contact. This ship was later destroyed by the Breens in 2375’s Second Battle of Chin’toka. The second Defiant was launched in the same year, under the command of Captain Benjamin Sisko, and appeared in two DS9 episodes.
11. Duras’ Bird-of-Prey (Unknown – 2153)
Fans of Star Trek: Enterprise will no doubt have great memories of one of the most fearsome ships in the franchise’s immense canon. Another entry from the Klingon Empire’s notorious Bird-of-Prey class of starships.
Duras, son of Toral was on a redemption mission to nab Enterprise NX-01 skipper, Jonathan Archer after he had been demoted from the Klingon Chancellor’s crew. This strongly suggests that the Bird-of-Prey given to Duras in his task was an elite speedster, a point further underlined by the fact that Duras actually managed to deal significant damage to the Enterprise before its lucky escape.
Duras, despite his considerable efforts, was eventually defeated by the upgraded Enterprise in the Delphic Expanse in 2153.
10. USS Voyager, Intrepid Class (2371- )
Cruising in at a tremendous Warp 9, there is little explanation needed to justify the Voyager’s place on this list. A frequent go-to for the Federation’s long deep space explorations, this ship was capable of sustaining a crew for years on end in endless deep space. One of its most impressive feats was the seven-year journey across the Delta Quadrant, led by captain Kathryn Janeway. A mission into the Badlands, which was expected to take only three weeks, turned into years of searching for a way back home after the Voyager had been inexplicably hurled 70,000 light-years away into Delta.
The Voyager flexed its considerable speed muscles on countless occasions across Star Trek: Voyager’s seven seasons.
9. General Chang’s Bird-of-Prey (Unknown- 2293)
Blink and you would have missed it. Be 100% alert and you still might have missed it. The Bird-of-Prey was as elegant as it was deadly, and Klingon General Chang’s cold calculating enabled him to use his ship to engineer all sorts of violence throughout the galaxy in the 23rd century.
The thing that made this vessel so special was the advanced cloaking system that enabled the Bird to fire weapons while cloaked, a devastating advantage used to frame Captain Kirk of the USS Enterprise-A for the assassination of Klingon Chancellor Gorkon.
There are no outright figures as to how fast General Chang’s ship was but it displayed incredible bursts of speed throughout its appearance in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
8.USS Enterprise, Sovereign Class (The early 2380s)
The flagship of the Federation and sixth iteration of the Enterprise. This model, the NCC-1701E, is doubtless one of the most powerful and advanced starships in the franchise’s canon. A 9.9 warp factor places it comfortably among the cream of speedsters.
The NCC-1701E appears in three films, First Contact, Insurrection, and Nemesis. It also appears in the series Star Trek: Picard.
7. USS Prometheus, Prometheus Class (2373- )
Launched in 2373, the USS Prometheus was officially the fastest starship in the Federation’s Starfleet. Boasting a mind-boggling Warp 9.99 factor it was an unrivaled blend of speed and deadliness. It was a tough nut to crack defensively too. We’re talking ablative hull armor, regenerative shields, the works. This thing was ELITE.
An almost successful hi-jack attempt almost saw the Prometheus fall into Romulan hands in the year 2374 but, luckily, the Federation was able to regain possession of the vessel before it could reach Romulan space and potentially disappear forever.
6. USS Excelsior, Excelsior Class (Early 2280s -)
Among the first Federation starships to have transwarp drive installed, the Excelsior was widely tipped to have the potential for speeds far beyond Warp 10. Some even believed the ship could top the Warp 14.1 set by the USS Enterprise NCC-1701.
The ship made its debut in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock under the command of the cocky Captain Styles. The star ship’s speed capabilities were not fully explored, however, as a combination of sabotage and rotten luck hindered its maiden missions.
Excelsior reappeared in The Voyage Home under the command of Hikaru Sulu, who would employ the ship’s awesome speed to save the Enterprise from Klingon General Chang and his Bird-of-Prey.
5. HMS Bounty A.K.A. Bird-of-Prey (Unknown-2286)
A technological milestone, even by lofty Klingon standards. Commander Kruge’s pride and joy was a devastating, soul-sucking, killing machine that struck fear into the hearts of all who were unlucky enough to wind up in its path.
Engineered as a new range of flagships for the Klingon Raptor starship class, the Bird-of-Prey was central to Kruge’s plot to raid the Federation and steal the Genesis Device. The USS Grissom was a notable victim of the killer ship, which was later seized by Kirk and his crew for the Federation in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
However, with regard to its speed, official numbers are unclear. What we know for sure is that it is incredibly fast, as shown in the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The Bounty hit a ridiculous top speed of Warp 10 during a time travel maneuver known as “slingshot around the sun”. Spoiler alert…the attempt was successful and landed Kirk’s crew in the year 1986, almost three hundred before the ship’s own launch.
4. Cochrane (2372-2374)
Several Trekkies argue that the fastest ship in the Star Trek universe is actually a USS Voyager shuttle simply called Cochrane. The shuttle had a transwarp drive installed and became the first Starfleet ship to travel faster than the transwarp threshold of Warp 10. Mind you, the shuttle’s original speed was a respectable Warp 4.
Unfortunately, breaking the threshold resulted in pilot Tom Paris turning into some sort of frog-like monstrosity, resulting in the Federation deciding never to use the Cochrane for such an attempt again.
3. USS Discovery, Crossfield Class (2256-2257, 32nd Century)
The mighty Crossfield class of the Federation’s Starfleet was on its own level, in terms of mid-23rd century technology. The primary reason for this was the fact that these ships were designed as scientific research facilities. The USS Discovery NCC-1031 was the golden child of the bunch and proved instrumental, in both its scientific purpose and the long bubbling conflict between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
The Discovery’s research topic, you ask? Speed. More specifically, the testing and measuring of an experimental “spore drive” propulsion system that was a potential game-changer for intergalactic travel. Figures are unavailable, because of the highly classified nature of research findings in the Crossfield class, but you can bet your bottom dollar that this baby was hitting Warp 9 at least. And that’s being generous.
The Discovery was the main ship on the television series Star Trek: Discovery.
2. Enterprise-F, Odyssey Class (2409)
The franchise’s video game series made a dramatic leap forward with Star Trek Online’s 25th-century setting. The new era also brought with it a new generation of elite Starfleet vessels.
The jewel in the crown was the NCC-1701-F, which was launched in 2409 with a treasure trove of offensive trinkets including enhanced Bio-Molecular Photon Torpedo Launchers and the twelfth generation of Phaser Beam Arrays.
As a future entry of the Enterprise series, it is obviously very, very…very fast. No official figures available but it is safe to assume Captain Va’Kel Shon had the sleek F cruising somewhere around Warp 10 at least. The design of the ship indicates it had sights set on much higher speeds, so capabilities of 14+ cannot be ruled out.
1. USS Enterprise, Constitution Class (2245-2285)
Perhaps the most iconic of the starships bearing the name “Enterprise”. The first iteration of this ship, the NCC-1701, made its debut on TOS back in 1964 and went on to become the flagship of the entire franchise, even to this day.
The 3D modeling of the vessel, the weapons, the AI, the graphic user interfaces (GUI…remember this was the SIXTIES). Never mind a top-notch crew spearheaded by a certain Captain Kirk.
Countless victories, narrow escapes, and a sumptuous setting for sheer gravity defiance in the realm of cinematography. William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are basically deities to Trekkies worldwide, leading a stellar cast featuring James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols in the command station of the Enterprise. Some of the technology concepts introduced via, or on, the ship are things we take for granted today. Topographic mapping of planets? That’s our Google Earth and Maps software. Scotty has been “sending location” on syndicated television for the better part of six decades.
However, out of all the ship’s features, the most impressive is arguably its incredulous speed. “Warp 8” can only have been the official speed for insurance purposes. Granted, that figure is still pretty zippy, but this ship was way faster than that. Maybe even twice as fast. This could be another hidden technological innovation though; it is very similar to how certain automakers today can make cars with very powerful engines but have them electronically limited to a much lower top speed. A good example is how manufacturers like Mercedes or BMW limit most of their road-going ranges to 155 miles per hour when some engine capacities are close to 200. A definite link to efficiency considerations by Rodden and his creative team. Pretty impressive, once one remembers that the 1960s were only a decade removed from a time when your doctor might have prescribed you a pack of menthols if you felt chest problems. The showrunners certainly had incredible foresight. Or incredible access to some classified stuff.
The fourteenth episode of TOS’ third season saw the ship suffer damage to its limiting and braking systems, leaving it virtually impossible to slow down. The Enterprise accelerated to a speed of Warp 14 and it managed to maintain this pace comfortably for quite a while.
The Enterprise was also equipped with an impulse drive and a warp drive for deep space exploration and hostile ship engagement or avoidance. The countless engagements with the Klingons, and their tactically astute starship Commander Kor, were a worthy proving ground for such a magnificent vessel. With speed combined with its agility, arsenal, and the acute minds onboard, the Enterprise managed to weave its way in, and out, of trouble many a time before it met its eventual end in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
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