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 fastest ‘Star Trek‘ ships and come up with a debate-sparking list.
The ‘Star Trek ‘franchise is so special because it seemingly has a little something for everyone, be it films or series or conventions, video games, 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).
Unsurprisingly, 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 debuted in the ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ series 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-around 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 Defence Force stars 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 save 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 created 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. The Narada promptly captured it and relieved it 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)
The Defiant was a genuine Federation battle cruiser, agile and fast, capable of outmaneuvering nearly any adversary. With a dependable warp factor of 9.2, it could consistently stay beyond the reach of enemy fire.
The first iteration first appeared in the series ‘Deep Space 9’ and the film ‘First Contact.’ The Breens later destroyed this ship 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)
‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ fans will undoubtedly have great memories of one of the most fearsome ships in the franchise’s immense canon. This is 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.
Despite his considerable efforts, Duras was eventually defeated by the upgraded Enterprise in the Delphic Expanse in 2153.
10. USS Voyager, Intrepid Class (2371- )
Zooming at a staggering Warp 9, the Voyager’s inclusion in this list is unquestionable. Often used by the Federation for extended space explorations, this ship could support its crew for prolonged periods in the vastness of space.
Its most remarkable journey was a seven-year trek across the Delta Quadrant under Captain Kathryn Janeway’s leadership. What began as a three-week mission to the Badlands became years of searching for a home when the Voyager was mysteriously thrown 70,000 light-years into the Delta Quadrant.
The Voyager flexed its considerable speed muscles countless times 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. 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.
What 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 for 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 ‘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, and 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 regained possession of the vessel before it could reach Romulan space and potentially disappear forever.
6. USS Excelsior, Excelsior Class (Early 2280s -)
One of the pioneering Federation starships to be equipped with transwarp drive, the Excelsior was rumored to possess speeds surpassing Warp 10, with some speculating it could even exceed the Warp 14.1 achieved by the USS Enterprise NCC-1701.
Introduced in ‘Star Trek III: The Search for Spock’, it was helmed by the overconfident Captain Styles. However, the ship’s speed potential wasn’t fully tested due to a mix of sabotage and misfortune during its initial voyages.
In The Voyage Home, the Excelsior, now under the command of Hikaru Sulu, showcased its impressive speed to rescue the Enterprise from the clutches of Klingon General Chang and his Bird-of-Prey.
5. HMS Bounty A.K.A. Bird-of-Prey (Unknown-2286)
It is 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.
Designed as the next-generation flagship for the Klingon Raptor starship class, the Bird-of-Prey played a pivotal role in Kruge’s scheme to ambush the Federation and confiscate the Genesis Device. The USS Grissom fell prey to this formidable vessel, which was eventually commandeered by Kirk and his team for the Federation in ‘Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.’
As for its speed capabilities, exact figures remain elusive. What’s certain is its impressive velocity, as evidenced in ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.’ The Bounty reached an astounding Warp 10 during a time-travel technique termed “slingshot around the sun.” Spoiler: this audacious move successfully transported Kirk and his team to 1986, nearly three centuries before the ship’s actual launch.
4. Cochrane (2372-2374)
Several Trekkies argue that the Star Trek universe’s fastest ship is 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 regarding 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 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 are available, but it is safe to assume Captain Va’Kel Shon had the sleek F cruising somewhere around Warp 10. The ship’s design indicates it had sights set on much higher speeds, so capabilities of 14+ cannot be ruled out.
1. USS Enterprise, Constitution Class (2245-2285)
Debuting in 1964 on TOS, the NCC-1701 iteration of the ship quickly became the flagship of the Star Trek franchise, maintaining that iconic status even today.
The ship was a marvel, from its innovative 3D modeling to its weapons and AI, and not to forget its cutting-edge graphical user interfaces (mind you, this was the 1960s). All of this was steered by Captain Kirk and his right-hand man, Spock.
With a memorable crew, including James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols, the Enterprise became the backdrop for numerous cinematic triumphs. Thanks to William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, ‘Star Trek’ became an immortal sensation, introducing technology we now see as commonplace – think of topographic mapping akin to our Google Earth.
Yet, amid all its features, the Enterprise’s speed stands out. While its official speed is “Warp 8”, it’s believed the ship could surpass this, drawing parallels to today’s car manufacturers like Mercedes and BMW that limit their vehicles’ top speeds despite their engines’ capabilities.
The visionary show creators seemed way ahead of their time, especially when considering the prevalent mindsets of the 1960s. Their insight was evident, whether from sheer creativity or perhaps some “classified” knowledge.
In one memorable TOS episode, after damage to its limiting systems, the Enterprise zooms to Warp 14, showcasing its robust engineering. Equipped for deep space adventures and confrontations, the Enterprise was often tested against adversaries like the Klingons and the brilliant Commander Kor.
Its blend of speed, maneuverability, weaponry, and the strategic brilliance of its crew ensured its storied journey until its ultimate fate in ‘Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.’