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Rigel Class

Size Comp
Universe : Prime Timeline
Affiliation : Federation
Class Name : Rigel Class
Type : Long Range Explorer
Unit Run :
USS Rigel - Active
NCC 620951 USS Tolstoy - Destroyed2
NCC 621581 USS Akagi3 - Active
plus 81 others built in total. 70 have been lost in all.
Commissioned : 2358 - 2362, class remains in service
Dimensions : Length : 635 m4
Beam : 560 m
Height : 166 m
Decks : 30
Mass : 5,750,000 metric tons
Crew : 890
Armament : 5 x Type X phaser arrays, total output 15,000 TeraWatts
1 x Type 3 burst fire photon torpedo tube with 75 rounds
Defence Systems : Standard shield system, total capacity 1,755,000 TeraJoules
Standard Duranium Double hull.
Standard level Structural Integrity Field
Warp Speeds
(TNG scale) :
Normal Cruise : 7
Maximum Cruise : 9.2
Maximum Rated : 9.6 for 12 hours.
Strength Indices :
(Galaxy class = 1,000)
Beam Firepower : 300
Torpedo Firepower : 500
Weapon Range and Accuracy : 530
Shield Strength : 650
Hull Armour : 20
Speed : 1,000
Combat Manoeuvrability : 900
Overall Strength Index : 485
Diplomatic Capability : 7
Expected Hull Life : 100
Refit Cycle : Minor : 1 year
Standard : 1 years
Major : 20 years


The Rigel class is Starfleets three-nacelle variant of the Galaxy class. Whereas the Galaxy was a balanced multirole vessel, the Rigel was designed to be biased in favour of peacetime roles. As most of the scientific and diplomatic capability of the Galaxy resides in the primary hull, a standard Galaxy saucer section was used on the Rigel. As the Galaxy saucer contains no less than eight of the twelve phaser arrays and two of the three photon torpedo tubes carried by that class, it was decided to concentrate the modifications in this section. However, given the huge time and resource over-runs experienced by the Galaxy class during its development it became clear that the Rigel would suffer serious knock on effects if this plan was followed.

Instead, Starfleet decided to scale up an existing design and mate it with Galaxy components. As it happened, the hull chosen for this was that of the refit Constitution class. The primary factor was size - the Constitution hull was exactly one half of the size necessary for the Galaxy saucer, allowing it to be scaled up by simply replacing every single deck with two. Once approved, work proceeded swiftly - although the project still suffered delays when faults emerged with the remaining Galaxy elements. Nevertheless, the first Rigel class vessel was commissioned in 2358. A four year production run put nine of these vessels into the fleet.

The Rigel is one of the relatively few Starfleet designs with three nacelles. The ship has three basic modes; all three nacelles can operate together, the upper pair can operate independently, or the lower nacelle can operate alone. By alternating between the upper pair and lower nacelle the Rigel can rest nacelles periodically whilst maintaining warp speed, so increasing the average cruise speed which can be maintained or - more importantly for deep space exploration - extending the life of the warp coils.

The Rigels have generally served on long range, long duration exploration missions where they have performed well up to expectations. They are therefore a relatively rare sight within the core worlds of the Federation, although a few have served there. Most notably the USS Tolstoy was part of the fleet which engaged the Borg at Wolf 357, where it was lost with all hands.2 The Rigel-class USS Akagi also served as part of the blockade fleet which prevented Romulan supplies from reaching the Duras family during the Klingon civil war.3

Colour key

Canon source Backstage source Novel source DITL speculation


# Series Season Source Comment
1 Star Trek Encyclopedia
2 TNG 4 The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2
3 TNG 5 Redemption, Part 2
4 Speculative Scaled so that the nacelles are equal to that of the Galaxy Class in size.
Book : Star Trek Encyclopedia
Series : TNG Season 4 (Disc 1)
Episode : The Best of Both Worlds, Part 2
Series : TNG Season 5 (Disc 1)
Episode : Redemption, Part 2
Source : Speculative
Comment : Scaled so that the nacelles are equal to that of the Galaxy Class in size.


The Rigel class USS Tolstoy was one of the ships used in the Wolf 359 graveyard scene in TNG's "Best of Both Worlds, Part 2", while the Akagi was mentioned in "Redemption, part 2" and classed as a Rigel in an onscreen graphic. The ship is a kitbash of the Galaxy and Constitution class models. Much of the information regarding the class is speculative at best. Probably the most interesting feature is the three nacelles - the effect of varying numbers of nacelles is a topic of some debate amongst fans, and the "resting nacelle" idea is simply the one that seems most sensible to me. That extra nacelles make a ship faster doesn't seem to be supported by episodes, since Voyager - with two tiny nacelles - is one of the fastest ships around.

This ship probably counts as one of the ugliest of all the kitbashed types, and hopefully we will never see it in any detail.

© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 52,727 Last updated : 31 Jul 2004