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Kelvin Class

Size Comp
Universe : Prime Timeline
Affiliation : Federation
Class Name : Kelvin Class
Type : Survey / exploration ship
Unit Run :
NCC 0514 USS Kelvin - Destroyed [1]
plus 10 others built in total. 3 have been lost in all. 8 have been retired from service.
Commissioned : 2200 - 2215, remained in service until 2245
Dimensions : Length : 450 m [2]
Beam : 233 m [3]
Height : 107 m [3]
Decks : 28
Mass : 900,000 metric tons
Crew : 800, 1400
Armament : 8 x Pop out turret [4] phasers [1]
12 x pop out turret [4] CIWS, total output 1,400 TeraWatts
Defence Systems : Standard shield system, total capacity 200,000 TeraJoules
Standard Monotanium Single hull.
Standard level Structural Integrity Field
Warp Speeds
(TOS scale) :
Normal Cruise : 5.5
Maximum Cruise : 7
Maximum Rated : 8 for 4 hours.
Strength Indices :
(Galaxy class = 1,000)
Beam Firepower : 28
Torpedo Firepower : -
Weapon Range and Accuracy : -
Shield Strength : 74.07
Hull Armour : 5
Speed : 267
Combat Manoeuvrability : 3,500
Overall Strength Index : 56
Diplomatic Capability : 2
Expected Hull Life : 30 years
Refit Cycle : Minor : 2 year
Standard : 2 years
Major : 10 years


In service during the early to mid 23rd century, the Kelvin class were typical Starfleet vessels of the period. Designed with a large saucer section, the class had a single large nacelle below and a hangar bay hull above. The ship was equipped with a large number of shuttles, enabling it to conduct extensive planetary survey missions, aid in evacuations, or lend aid to disaster areas. [1]

The hangar bay took up most of the upper hull. Shuttles were held in stacked pairs on either side of the hangar's central well, allowing them to be densely packed and giving a large complement (over twenty carried). The ship's navigational deflector is located at the forward end of this hull. [1]

The ship's impulse engine systems were located at the rear of the saucer section, whilst the warp drive was contained within the large nacelle below the saucer. [1]

The Kelvin herself was lost in 2233 when she encountered an anomaly near the Klingon border. She reported a single massive Romulan vessel emerging from the anomaly with was able to overpower the Kelvin using powerful and advanced weaponry. The ship, under the command of George Kirk, was able to evacuate her crew in shuttles. Kirk remained behind to fight a holding action whilst the shuttles escaped, and then set the Kelvin on a collision course with the ship, disabling it. [1]

Colour key

Canon source Backstage source Novel source DITL speculation


# Series Season Source Comment
1 Star Trek XI
2 Speculative Estimated off scale diagram assuming saucer rim is two 3.75 m decks thick
3 Speculative Estimated off scale diagram assuming saucer rim is two 3.75 m decks thick
4 Visible on the shooting model
Film: Star Trek XI
Source : Speculative
Comment : Estimated off scale diagram assuming saucer rim is two 3.75 m decks thick
Source : Speculative
Comment : Estimated off scale diagram assuming saucer rim is two 3.75 m decks thick
Source : Visible on the shooting model


The Kelvin is an interesting ship in many ways! One of the longstanding points of contention in Starship design is Gene Roddenberry's "design guidelines"; these state that for Federation ships, all designs should have the following characteristics : Warp nacelles must be in pairs; warp nacelles must have at least 50% line of sight with each other along their length; nothing must be directly in front of the nacelles; the bridge must be in the upper center of the saucer section. The rules are contentious because some claim that they were invented purely to invalidate the designs in Franz Joseph's TOS Technical Manual, which Gene had supported until he decided to go in a different direction for The Motion Picture. In particular, several of Joseph's designs had one or three nacelles.

Whilst single nacelle ships and three nacelle ships have turned up now and again in Trek, it has always been as tiny indistinct ships seen in the background, or drawings on a screen, etc. The Kelvin marks the first time a single nacelle ship has been right up there on screen and in your face. Goodbye to that rule, I guess!

Also interesting is the "pop out" weaponry, which is pretty obviously a nod to the NX Class from Enterprise. The Kelvin has been described by the producers of the movie as being a rather old ship; I've put her as being 33 years old, which would be near the end of her designed lifespan. This would put her only 50 years after the NX class, so it's not at all surprising that pop out weapons would be around.

Interestingly the Kelvin never fires a torpedo during her battle with the Narada, at least that we see. There's no visible torpedo launcher on her, so I've assumed she is not fitted with them.

It is, of course, pure speculation on my part that the Kelvin was the lead ship her class. When there is no established class ship or other reason to assume otherwise, making the assumption that the first ship seen is the class ship is standard DITL practice.

Regarding the ship's top speed, the intel website states that the Kelvin can do Warp 8. This seems high given that the Constitution would have a similar speed decades later, so I have pitched the ship as being able to reach Warp 8 as an emergency speed that it cannot hold for long, whilst the Connie held Warp 9 on more than one occasion.

The Kelvin's shuttle count is at least 21; we see 20 shuttles on screen simultaneously during the evacuation, whilst the Captain takes one to go to the Narada. More are possible, and indeed likely; with 800 crew to evacuate, 20 shuttles would be 40 people per shuttle. The one we saw the interior of, Winona's shuttle, certainly didn't hold that many, and there is nothing to suggest that the 20 we saw on screen were not simply the last wave of a larger fleet. By my estimate the hangar could hold up to 52 shuttles as an absolute maximum, given the way they are stacked.

The Kelvin is surprisingly large for a ship of this era - significantly larger than the TOS Enterprise, actually. Why this would be I don't know, but whilst there is some leeway in the size, she really can't be any smaller than 350 m in length and 450 is what the visible features on the ship point to. I'll simply note that I don't recall any occasion when it's been said that the Constitution was the largest ship in service, let alone the largest built up to that point.

Interestingly, at least one or two of the ships seen in the fleet sent to Vulcan seems to be based on the Kelvin, at least somewhat. In particular there's one that seems to be have two Kelvin type nacelles above the saucer and two of her hangar hulls below. Intriguing to think that that ship could have over 100 shuttles!

© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 103,402 Last updated : 12 Mar 2013