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I'm trying to get a feel for the size of the Federation during the time of The Original Series.

The following commentator writes that during the time of TOS there were only 12 Constitution class warships.

My question is: During Star Trek TOS were there only 12 Constitution-class starships in all of Starfleet?

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  • 5
    Not that weird, there's only one Zumwalt class destroyer, but don't go thinking that navy is weak. Nov 25 '17 at 17:19
  • @Davidw No, the two completed and one under construction are all there are going to be. The other 29 were cancelled long ago.
    – Ross Ridge
    Nov 25 '17 at 22:33
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    And of course there aren't just large capital ships. In addition to battleships (which is effectively what Constitution-class ships are), you need cruisers, destroyers, corvettes, minelayers/sweepers, in addition to auxiliary ships like tugs, fleet oilers/colliers (there must be some future variant of them), etc.
    – RonJohn
    Nov 26 '17 at 1:45
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    While designated "heavy cruisers" in the semi-canon "Star Fleet Technical Manual", the Constitution class seems to have been the most prestigious ships in Starfleet at the time; the US Navy today fields 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers out of a fleet of 459 ships. Nov 26 '17 at 2:44
  • On Star Trek Discovery, Burnham references the Constitution Class (and specifically the Enterprise) as the type of ship Tilly could end up on if she performs well, essentially stating that a posting to one of them is considered a really big deal to Starfleet personnel. Nov 29 '17 at 20:56
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Yes.

CHRISTOPHER: Must have taken quite a lot to build a ship like this.

KIRK: There are only twelve like it in the fleet.

TOS: Tomorrow is Yesterday

That being said, when we learn of the USS Defiant (no, not that one, the earlier one) there may have actually been 13.

Within the series (and films) we actually see (or hear about) 10 Constitution class vessels;

  • The NCC-1700
  • USS Enterprise
  • USS Constellation
  • USS Defiant
  • USS Excalibur
  • USS Exeter
  • USS Hood
  • USS Intrepid
  • USS Lexington
  • USS Potemkin

Several others were mentioned in the various films.

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    "12 like it" could be interpreted as '12', but also as 'this one and 12 others' (or 13). Nov 26 '17 at 9:07
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    @MarkRotteveel - Indeed. And it could also mean "12 exactly like it".
    – Valorum
    Nov 26 '17 at 9:08
  • On those footnotes, second column we got those eleven names: Enterprise, Essex, Excalibur, Lexington, Yorktown, Endeavor, Eagle, Constellation, Hornet, Wasp, Lafayette.
    – Cœur
    Nov 26 '17 at 10:29
  • @Cœur - If you follow the link at the bottom of the answer, you can see each of the ships and their relevant MA pages.
    – Valorum
    Nov 26 '17 at 11:03
  • Well, the Defiant appears 2 years (well, 22 months by broadcast date, but close enough) after Kirk says that there are only 12 like it - so more may have been built by then... Jun 16 '20 at 12:16
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According to The Making of Star Trek page 165, " The following names have been established for starships: Enterprise, Exeter, Excalibur, Lexington, Yorktown, Potemkin, Republic, Hood, Constitution, Kongo, Constellation, Farragut, Valiant, and Intrepid. The latter four are listed as destroyed in various episodes."

I do not know why the book lists fourteen names it was written by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry. There are two memos in the book to Gene from D.C. Fontana and Bob Justman with other suggested names for starships.

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    Why does your list of the "original 12" have 14 names?
    – David Z
    Nov 26 '17 at 2:08
  • One of the memos says explicitly that it presumes destroyed Starships would be replaced. There would be only twelve at any time, but maybe fourteen over the period of TOS. Dec 4 '17 at 3:49
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No there were 12 like the Enterprise (Constitution class) at the time of the episode "Tommorrow is Yesterday" when Kirk utters the line: "There are only twelve like it in the fleet."

The Star Trek Writer's guide established there were fourteen Constitution Class starships: Constitution, Constellation, Enterprise, Yorktown, Lexington, Farragut, Republic, Intrepid, Exeter, Hood, Excalibur, Valiant, Kongo, Potemkin. The original AMT model decal sheet validates these names.

The Constitution Class had been around for at least 13 years and probably longer (The Menagerie) and Kirk had served aboard at least two of them before assuming command of the Enterprise. The USS Republic (Court Martial) and the USS Farragut (Obsession.)

It is almost certain the Farragut was lost or destroyed when it encountered the Cloud Creature, and that would make Kirk's statement in Tomorrow is Yesterday true when he said it. There were only twelve like it (that were left) in the fleet.

The Star Trek Reference manual lists four as destroyed. We saw at least two of them destroyed, Intrepid in Immunity Syndrome and Constellation in Doomsday Machine. These episodes occurred after Tomorrow Is Yesterday. We heard of the destruction of Farragut in Obsession. We also probably saw the destruction of the Excalibur in Ultimate Computer but it was never established that it was destroyed beyond salvage.

This leaves the Valiant. This is problematic. It may be bad writing. Other than the ship named 'Valiant' that disappeared two hundred years before the episode 'Where No Man Has Gone Before' we saw no Constitution class USS Valiant. We did however see a USS Defiant (Tholian Web) that wasn't on the writer's guide list. Like the other ship names used from history there was an actual British battleship named Valiant. There was never an actual ship named 'Defiant.' There was a fictional HMS Defiant in the film 'Damn The Defiant' I think somebody messed up, meant to type Valiant but chose to type Defiant instead and it became hard to explain canon.

Either way there were fourteen original Constitution Class and thirteen left when Kirk made his statement in Tomorrow Is Yesterday.

And they were all Constitution class. The model gave you a Constitution class starship and 14 names to choose from.

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  • But Kirk said "There are only twelve like it in the fleet" not "There are only twelve others like it in the fleet." The way that is said, there are 12 total, not 13. Can you explain the discrepancy?
    – DavidW
    Jan 13 at 23:39
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I was trying to recall all the names of the current starships mentioned in the 80 TOS episodes (if you include the pilot and the two-parter where they cannibalized the pilot as separate episodes) and I came up with this list:

  • USS Enterprise
  • USS Lexington
  • USS Hood
  • USS Excalibur
  • USS Potemkin
  • USS Defiant
  • USS Constellation
  • USS Exeter
  • USS Yorktown
  • USS Intrepid

I left out the USS Farragut, from “Obsession” since it existed eleven years earlier. I was only interested in “current” versions.

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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! That's the same list Valorum provided in his answer 2 1/2 years ago, so other than the mention of the USS Farragut, I'm not too sure what this brings to the discussion, unfortunately.
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 25 '20 at 23:23
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12 Constitution Class Starships:

  • USS Constitution. NCC-1700
  • USS Enterprise. NCC-1701 Flagship of Starfleet Command
  • USS Farragut. NCC-1702
  • USS Lexington. NCC-1703
  • USS Yorktown. NCC-1704
  • USS Excalibur. NCC-1705
  • USS Exeter. NCC-1706
  • USS Hood. NCC-1707
  • USS Intrepid. NCC-1708 Vulcan Crew
  • USS Valiant. NCC-1709
  • USS Kongo. NCC-1710
  • USS Potemkin. NCC-1711

Other TOS Starships

  • USS Eagle. NCC-956
  • USS Republic. NCC-1371
  • USS Constellation. NCC-1017
  • USS Defiant. NCC-1764
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  • I've edited this into a list to make it more readable. If you want to roll it back or make any further changes you can edit your own post.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jun 16 '20 at 12:06
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Here is a link to a similar question:

And my summary should be noted:

Finally, it should be remembered that there are three separate things in the era of TOS: Starships, Constitution Class ships, and the Twelve like the Enterprise.

It is common to assume that the three are all the same, that Starships equate to Constitution Class ships that equate to the Twelve like the Enterprise.

But it is possible that only two of them are the same.

Thus:

  1. Starships could equal Constitution Class ships and be different from the Twelve like the Enterprise.

  2. Starships could equal the Twelve like the Enterprise and be different from Constitution class ships.

  3. Constitution Class ships could equal the Twelve like the Enterprise and be different from starships.

or:

All three - Starships, Constitution Class ships, and the Twelve like the Enterprise - could be different and separate, some being subcategories of others perhaps.

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The existing answers are focused on naming the original Constitution class starships. I'd like to focus on the question's incredulity regarding such a small number and what people should think what the rest of the fleet looks like per "I'm trying to get a feel for the size of the Federation during the time of The Original Series". This is a photo of the Enterprise with the Antares from "Charlie X" remastered. The new CGI effect was based on a cargo ship from the animated series. Point being that in its time the Constitution class was as much of a technology leap as the Galaxy class was 75 years later over older classes. And in TNG the original intent was to only have a dozen Galaxy class ships in the fleet too.

Starships are expensive even in a post scarcity society - they take a decade to design and build and require crew. Before JJ the adults in charge of star trek realized you can't just launch thousands of these and have them maneuver underwater.

enterprise and antares

Andrew Probert Enterprises

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