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Oberth Class

Size Comp
Universe : Prime Timeline
Affiliation : Federation
Class Name : Oberth Class
Type : Science Vessel1
Unit Run :
USS Olympia - Destroyed2
NAR 188343 SS Vico - Destroyed4
NCC 190023 USS Yosemite5 - Active6
NCC 31600 USS Bonestell3 - Destroyed7
NCC 503313 USS Biko8 - Active
NCC 53847 USS Pegasus - Destroyed9
NCC 539113 USS Tsiolkovsky - Destroyed10
NCC 5931811 USS Cochrane12 - Active
NCC 599833 USS Raman - Destroyed13
NCC 602 USS Oberth14 - Retired
NCC 6233 USS Copernicus15 - Retired
NCC 638 USS Grissom - Destroyed1
plus 2,174 others built in total. 1,049 have been lost in all.
Commissioned : 2269 - 2338, class remains in service
Dimensions : Length : 150.81 m16
Beam : 87 m
Height : 41 m17
Decks : 12
Mass : 94,000 metric tons
Crew : 8010
Armament : 2 x Type IV phaser bank, total output 3,500 TeraWatts
1 x Probe/photon launcher equivalent to standard photon torpedo tube with 25 rounds
Defence Systems : Standard shield system, total capacity 243,000 TeraJoules
Standard Duranium Single hull.
Standard level Structural Integrity Field
Warp Speeds
(TNG scale) :
Normal Cruise : 4
Maximum Cruise : 5
Maximum Rated : 5.8 for 12 hours.
Strength Indices :
(Galaxy class = 1,000)
Beam Firepower : 70
Torpedo Firepower : 125
Weapon Range and Accuracy : 95
Shield Strength : 90
Hull Armour : 10
Speed : 183
Combat Manoeuvrability : 9,500
Overall Strength Index : 116
Diplomatic Capability : 2
Expected Hull Life : 100
Refit Cycle : Minor : 1 year
Standard : 1 years
Major : 20 years


The Oberth class has a distinguished Starfleet career dating back for over a century.1 They are no record breakers - even when the first ship was commissioned in 2269 there were far more capable platforms from which to conduct scientific research and exploration. But the Oberth's had some crucial advantages - they were easy to build and easy to run. The design was highly modular - the whole vessel was made up of sections of 50, 150, or 300 tons which were simply bolted together and sealed. This allowed construction to take place in the smallest of facilities, even those intended to handle craft such as shuttles and small transports. The warp drive system, one of the most difficult parts of any starship to fabricate, sacrificed a large degree of speed and acceleration in return for simplicity and reliability. These factors enabled no less than eight Oberth class vessels to be built for the same resources as a single Constitution class starship. In service the Oberth's were just as easy to run as they were to build; the engineering plant was almost wholly automated, with the engineering hull unmanned in normal operation;18 the entire engineering crew consisted of one officer and four enlisted personnel, less than a tenth of the number normal for a vessel of this size.

The exploratory nature of the Oberth class mission meant that they would frequently discover new alien species, but their small size and limited crew numbers meant that they had a very limited diplomatic capability. Although they did occasionally engage in first contact procedures, it was more usual that an Oberth would make an initial assessment without revealing itself before reporting back to Starfleet and allowing larger vessels to make the actual contact.

Over the decades of their service the Oberth's have been produced in and upgraded to over twenty different variations. Early changes are limited to the sensor and laboratory resources, but the later models introduced improved crew facilities such as larger quarters and replicator systems, made possible by reduced crew numbers due to further automation. In the 2340's all units received new phaser banks - although the peaceful nature of the Oberth class is emphasized by the irony that this change was necessitated by new safety standards introduced for phaser equipment, and that the resultant changes actually lowered the ships phaser power by nearly 10%!

The Galaxy class was initially planned to replace the Oberth class in service, but Starfleets recent move toward smaller starship designs has led to a stay of execution for the class. They are now expected to remain in service at least until the beginning of the next century.

Colour key

Canon source Backstage source Novel source DITL speculation


# Series Season Source Comment
1 Star Trek III : The Search for Spock
2 DS9 6 The Sound of Her Voice
3 Star Trek Encyclopedia
4 TNG 5 Hero Worship
5 TNG 6 Realm of Fear
6 DS9 2 Whispers
7 DS9 1 Emissary
8 TNG 6 A Fistful of Datas
9 TNG 7 The Pegasus
10 TNG 1 The Naked Now
11 TNG 4 The Drumhead
12 TNG 4 Half a Life
13 TNG 7 Interface
14 Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country
15 Star Trek IV : The Voyage Home
16 Calculated from the diagram comparing the Daedalus, Oberth, Miranda, and Intrepid class ships ('show resource' entry under Starships). Picture assumed to be to scale, and Intrepid class assumed to be 343 metres long.
18 Star Trek : The Magazine
Film: Star Trek III : The Search for Spock
Series : DS9 Season 6 (Disc 7)
Episode : The Sound of Her Voice
Book : Star Trek Encyclopedia
Series : TNG Season 5 (Disc 3)
Episode : Hero Worship
Series : TNG Season 6 (Disc 1)
Episode : Realm of Fear
Series : DS9 Season 2 (Disc 4)
Episode : Whispers
Series : DS9 Season 1 (Disc 1)
Episode : Emissary
Series : TNG Season 6 (Disc 2)
Episode : A Fistful of Datas
Series : TNG Season 7 (Disc 3)
Episode : The Pegasus
Series : TNG Season 1 (Disc 1)
Episode : The Naked Now
Series : TNG Season 4 (Disc 5)
Episode : The Drumhead
Series : TNG Season 4 (Disc 5)
Episode : Half a Life
Series : TNG Season 7 (Disc 1)
Episode : Interface
Film: Star Trek VI : The Undiscovered Country
Film: Star Trek IV : The Voyage Home
Comment : Calculated from the diagram comparing the Daedalus, Oberth, Miranda, and Intrepid class ships ('show resource' entry under Starships). Picture assumed to be to scale, and Intrepid class assumed to be 343 metres long.
Source : Star Trek : The Magazine


First seen in "Star Trek III", the Oberth was described as a science vessel. She seems to have very little armament, and certainly has very weak shields - the USS Grissom was destroyed by a single hit from a Klingon Bird of Prey. I've pitched them as being simple, low cost ships that would be built in great numbers. The idea of the engineering plant being unmanned is largely due to the fact that there seems to be no easy way to get from the saucer section to the engineering hull - the nacelle struts look a little narrow to fit a turbolift. Given that these are not combat ships, I don't think it likely that the designers would worry much about the crew having to repair battle damage or do much else beyond routine maintanence every now and again.

The idea that the Galaxy class was to replace the Oberth comes from the Tech Manual (page 1), but I thought I'd give these ships a stay of execution since we've seen a couple of them around during TNG.

Although many fans seem to love the big, heavy-combat starships - and I do too - the Oberths probably better represent the ideals of the Federation than almost any other class.

© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 75,285 Last updated : 31 Jul 2004