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?

  • 4
    Not that weird, there's only one Zumwalt class destroyer, but don't go thinking that navy is weak. – Harper - Reinstate Monica 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
  • 1
    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
  • 1
    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. – Russell Borogove 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. – Keith Morrison Nov 29 '17 at 20:56


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.

  • 2
    "12 like it" could be interpreted as '12', but also as 'this one and 12 others' (or 13). – Mark Rotteveel Nov 26 '17 at 9:07
  • 1
    @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

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.

  • 4
    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. – DJClayworth Dec 4 '17 at 3:49

Here is a link to a similar question:

During Star Trek TOS - how many starships were there in all of Starfleet?

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.


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.


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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.