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Early Starfleet History (2161+)

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Starfleet command emblem

Emblem of Starfleet Command


Starfleet Seal alternate reality

Seal of Starfleet in the alternate reality


For the mirror universe counterpart, please see Starfleet (mirror).

Starfleet was the deep-space exploratory and defense service maintained by the United Federation of Planets. Its principal functions included the advancement of Federation knowledge about the galaxy and its inhabitants, the advancement of Federation science and technology, the military defense of the Federation, and the practice of Federation diplomacy.

As per its mandate of deep-space exploration, its personnel were frequently brought into contact with cultures and sentient species whose existences were unknown to the Federation. Starfleet officers therefore acted as official representatives of the Federation in these cases. Starfleet vessels were also frequently used to ferry ambassadors on diplomatic missions. (TNG: “The Last Outpost“, “Conspiracy“; VOY: “Innocence“, “The Void“; TOS: “Journey to Babel“; Star Trek)



  1. History of Starfleet
    1. Pre-Federation Era
    2. United Federation of Planets
  2. Species with representatives in Starfleet
    1. Alternate timelines and realities
  3. Organization
    1. Commander in chief
    2. Starfleet Command
    3. Sector commands
    4. Starfleet Academy
    5. Branches and agencies
  4. Personnel
    1. Officers
    2. Enlisted personnel
    3. Uniforms
  5. Bases and installations
    1. Starbases
    2. Shipyards
    3. Training facilities
  6. Vessels
    1. Starships
    2. Other vessels
    3. Time vessels
  7. General Orders and Regulations
  8. Appendices
    1. See also
    2. Background information
      1. Military
      2. Size
    3. External links

History of Starfleet

Pre-Federation Era

United Earth Starfleet flag

United Earth Starfleet Flag (22nd century)


Prior to 2161, Starfleet was the primary space defense and exploration organization of United Earth in the early-to-mid 22nd century. The primary authority of Starfleet was referred to as either Starfleet Command or the United Earth Space Probe Agency (UESPA), and was located in the city of San Francisco, Earth. (ENT: “Broken Bow“, “Terra Prime“)

While UESPA already existed in the 2060s according to VOY: “Friendship One“, Starfleet was presumably founded in the mid-2130s, as Jonathan Archer gave some thought to join the Earth Cargo Service a few years before Starfleet was chartered, and 2134 was his senior year in college. Starfleet must have existed in 2136, as Margaret Mullin turned down Archer’s proposal of marriage, since she did not want to become a “Starfleet widow.” (ENT: “Vox Sola“, “Horizon“, “Twilight“)

The primary purpose of Starfleet from its infancy was to “…seek out new life and new civilizations,” and “…go boldly where no man has gone before.” (This quote is attributed to Zefram Cochrane, the inventor of warp drive on Earth.) (ENT: “Broken Bow“)

Some Starfleet personnel worked in conjunction with the United Earth Diplomatic Corps.

In 2153, following a Xindi attack on Earth and numerous firefights that the Enterprise NX-01 had been involved in since its launch in 2151, it was determined that Earth’s vessels would begin to carry detachments of United Earth’s elite military unit, the MACOs, thus taking a step towards the unification of Starfleet and the military – and of the roles of defense and exploration. (ENT: “The Expanse“)

One of the primary projects of Starfleet was to develop a viable and fast interstellar engine that would allow Earth to practically cross vast distances in reasonably short time. Despite some allegations of interference – or at least, a refusal of assistance – from the Vulcans, Earth had made notable progress in developing the warp five engine by the 2150s. (ENT: “Broken Bow“)

Key officials overseeing the United Earth Starfleet included:

Forrest, Leonard and Williams were named after William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley.

Article 14, Section 31, of the original U.E. Starfleet Charter made allowances for certain rules to be bent during times of extraordinary threat. This clause was the seed for the rogue organization known as Section 31. Lieutenant Malcolm Reed was recruited to Section 31 as a young ensign. (ENT: “Affliction“, “Divergence“; DS9: “Inquisition“)

In “Inquisition”, Luther Sloan describes Section 31 as being part of the “original” Starfleet Charter, implying the existence of multiple charters – consistent with the speculative notion of the United Earth Starfleet eventually being re-chartered as the Federation Starfleet. In “Tacking Into the Wind“, Julian Bashir says that Section 31 had managed to stay hidden for “over three hundred years.” Therefore, the United Earth Starfleet should have been chartered before 2075. This, however, is contradicted by Captain Archer stating that he considered becoming a member of the Earth Cargo Authority “before Starfleet was chartered” in “Horizon“.

The Latin phrase on the pre-Federation Starfleet seal is “Ad Astra Per Aspera” (which translates roughly as “to the stars through hardships”). It is a modified version of the NASA motto “Per Aspera Ad Astra” (“through hardships to the stars”). It is also the current-day state motto of Kansas. It may also be related to the RAF motto “‘Per Ardua Ad Astra’” (“through adversity to the stars”).


United Federation of Planets

With the formation of the Federation in 2161, as per the Federation Charter, Starfleet and the deep-space exploratory and military services of the other member worlds were folded into the authority of the Federation. (DS9: “Inquisition“; ENT: “Detained“, “Divergence“)

Until as late as the 2290s, some Starfleet operations continued to fall at least partly under the jurisdiction of UESPA. By the mid-24th century, however, Starfleet operations were regulated solely by Starfleet Command, answering to the Federation President and the Federation Council. (TOS: “Charlie X“, “Tomorrow is Yesterday“; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; et al.)

UESPA was mentioned early in the Original Series, before producers finally settled upon “Starfleet” and the UFP as the Enterprise crew’s operating authorities. It was found in background details in Star Trek: Enterprise and on the dedication plaque of the USS Enterprise-B in Star Trek Generations. UESPA was found on the United Earth Starfleet seal seen in “Demons“, implying that the UE Starfleet was a division of UESPA or vice versa. It was never mentioned in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The nature of the relationship between UESPA and the Federation Starfleet was never established.

It is unclear why the fledgling Federation would utilize so many of Earth’s space agencies as major contributors to its own Starfleet, especially considering both Vulcan‘s and Andoria‘s superior military and exploratory operations. One theory is paranoia. By placing the fledgling Starfleet in the hands of what was arguably the technologically and militarily weakest species, a balance remained amongst the remaining three powers, with none of the four having a significant advantage over the other three. Another explanation might be that, early on, planetary authorities operated inside of yet simultaneously independent of Starfleet, as is the case with the relationship between the European Space Agency and its national members. Whatever the reason, it is clear that – by the 23rd century – Earth had become the military backbone of the Federation. Even though less technologically advanced than other members, United Earth was nonetheless a major player in the Federation (for example, acting as its capital) and no doubt had much influence, for example the construction of Federation ships in the Sol system would have probably used UESPA and Starfleet facilities, at first, which gave it an advantage.

Species with representatives in Starfleet

Rec deck crew 1

Many Starfleet members of various species


Starfleet has always been a multiracial organization, composed of species from various worlds. Even though Starfleet was an organization representing United Earth and later on the United Federation of Planets, it was not a requirement for Starfleet personnel to be Human, or later on, from a member species of the Federation. (ENT: “Broken Bow“; TNG: “The Chase“)

In 2369, there were for example 17 representatives from non-Federation planets serving on the USS Enterprise-D. (TNG: “The Chase“) At times Starfleet has even allowed members from species that were its enemies at the time to work as crew members, including Worf during the Federation-Klingon war of the 2370s, part-Romulan Simon Tarses and Seven of Nine, a Borg. (DS9: “The Way of the Warrior“; TNG: “The Drumhead“; VOY: “Scorpion, Part II“)

The following races have had members of their species working for Starfleet:


Lieutenant junior grade Nara in 2370


In addition, the Arkarians provided baryon sweeps for Starfleet starships, and Bynars provided their services in upgrading the computers of Starfleet ships. (TNG: “11001001“, “Starship Mine“) Starfleet also employed sentient artificial photonic lifeforms as holographic emergency personnel, such as the Emergency Medical Holographic programs. The El-Aurian Guinan provided her services as bartender on the Enterprise-D and the Talaxian Neelix, the Ocampa Kes, the Borg Seven of Nine and the Brunali former Borg drone Icheb worked as members of the crew of the USS Voyager during the voyage through the Delta Quadrant. (TNG: “The Child“; VOY: “Caretaker“, “Scorpion, Part II“, “Imperfection“)

Alternate timelines and realities


Direct commanding authority over Starfleet was a power of the Federation President. (DS9: “Paradise Lost“, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) In addition, the Federation Council, the Federation’s legislature, often directly influenced the service’s operations and even issued orders on occasion. (TNG: “Force of Nature“, “The Defector“) The day-to-day operations of the service were managed by Starfleet Command, under a commander in chief. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Commander in chief

The commander in chief oversaw the operations of the entire service, and reported directly to the Federation president. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) In the late 2370s, the position of commander in chief was actually held by Federation President Jaresh Inyo (DS9: “Paradise Lost“)

Starfleet Command

This was the service’s operational authority. Senior positions included the Commander, Starfleet. the chief of staff and the chief of Starfleet Operations. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

It is unclear precisely what exact functions these positions involved. Nor is it known, precisely, how they related to each other in terms of command authority.

Sector commands

These oversaw operations of the service within sectors of Federation space. There were at least 23 sector commands. Sector commanders reported to Starfleet Command, and commanding officers of service vessels operating within these sectors reported to them. (TNG: “Power Play“, “The Measure Of A Man“)

Starfleet Academy

Starfleet Academy logo 2372

Starfleet Academy seal


Starfleet Academy was a facility maintained by the service for the training of its officers. Prospective officers received extensive training at this facility, for a period of four years. Undergraduates attending the facility were called midshipmen in the 23rd century and cadets in the 24th century. Successful graduates were commissioned as Federation Starfleet officers. (citation needededit)

Branches and agencies

There were a number of branches and agencies that assisted Starfleet Command in the running of the service.


Starfleet personnel were organized, using a military rank structure, into a chain of command. Personnel were in either of two groups: enlisted personnel and officers. Some personnel formally committed to the service, by taking the Starfleet oath.


In the 22nd century, Starfleet was a civilian organization which adopted many aspects of Earth’s earlier military forces, even though its main role was scientific development and exploration. Ranks within Starfleet closely followed the traditions of the British Royal Navy and the United States Navy.

Starfleet officers functioned as commanders and directors of the service’s operations at all levels. The most senior officers ranks were known as flag officer ranks. Officers holding these ranks functioned at the highest levels of command in the service. Flag officer ranks, in descending order of the chain of command, are as follows:

Sector commanders, the Superintendent of Starfleet Academy, the Commander, Starfleet, the Starfleet Chief of Staff and Chief of Starfleet Operations, and the Commander in Chief, were all flag officers. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; TNG: “Ménage à Troi“, “The First Duty“)

Below flag officer ranks were other officer ranks. Officers holding these ranks usually served in field command positions, such as commanding officers and senior staff on the service’s vessels. These ranks, in descending order of the chain of command, were as follows:

Graduates of Starfleet Academy were commissioned to the rank of ensign, the most junior officer’s rank, and were promoted to higher ranks over the courses of their time in the service. Physicians who graduated from Starfleet Medical Academy in the 24th century were commissioned to the rank of lieutenant junior grade.

Enlisted personnel

These personnel functioned under the command of the officers, usually serving aboard Starfleet vessels or other facilities. Instead of officers’ training, enlisted personnel received basic training for whatever position they served in. (VOY: “Good Shepherd“, et al.) The most junior enlisted rank was that of crewman. The service’s enlisted rank structure, in descending order of the chain of command, was as follows:

The enlisted ranks above that of crewman were not commissioned officer ranks. To distinguish them from commissioned officer ranks, the term ‘non-commissioned officer‘ was used. All enlisted personnel were subordinate to commissioned officers in the chain of command.


In the 22nd century, the same basic uniform was worn by all Starfleet officers, with differences in insignia and color-coded elements designed to distinguish rank and departmental function. Starfleet departments included Starfleet Operations and Starfleet Security. (ENT: “Broken Bow“)

Starfleet personnel wore distinctive uniforms while on duty. These uniforms generally displayed the department color of the department/division the enlisted person or officer served in, and also the rank insignia.

Wearing a Starfleet uniform when not actually a member of Starfleet would put one at risk of being charged with impersonating a Starfleet officer. (DS9: “Chrysalis“)

Bases and installations

Aside from its headquarters, located on Earth, the Federation’s capital world, Starfleet also maintained installations throughout Federation territory.


Starbase 375 with ships

Starbase 375


Starbases, facilities for resupply of the service’s vessels and the relaxation of vessel crews, were maintained in all sectors of Federation space. In addition, the service also maintained facilities beyond Federation territory. The most well-known of these is Deep Space 9, in the Alpha Quadrant. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)



The Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards


The service also maintained a number of shipyards at which it constructed its vessels and designed and tested new vessels and vessel types. Among the most famous of these shipyards were:

(TNG: “Parallels“, “Eye of the Beholder“, “Night Terrors“, “The Wounded“; Star Trek: The Motion Picture; VOY: “Message in a Bottle“)

Training facilities

Apart from Starfleet Academy, the service also maintained several training facilities for both officers and enlisted personnel. These included a number of Academy annexes, located in different systems. Known annexes were Starfleet Academy (Beta Aquilae II), Starfleet Academy (Beta Ursae Minor II) and Starfleet Academy (Psi Upsilon III). (TNG: “Eye of the Beholder“) The service also maintained at least one testing facility to evaluate prospective Starfleet Academy undergraduates for admission into the academy. This facility was located on the planet Relva VII. (TNG: “Coming of Age“)

Starfleet Academy also had a training program for enlisted personnel. (TNG: “The Drumhead“; DS9: “Trials and Tribble-ations“) In addition at least one other such facility was located on Mars, known as the Starfleet Technical Services Academy. (TNG: “Eye of the Beholder“)


The single most important asset that Starfleet possessed, apart from its personnel, was its vessels.


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Federation fleet prepares to engage Dominion fleet

A task force of Starfleet starships prepares for battle


The backbone of Starfleet’s operations were its starships. These vessels, all warp-capable, were capable of supporting and providing the ability and resources to carry out all of the service’s mandates: exploration, the military defense of the Federation, the transport of supplies and resources, and providing emergency medical care. A large range of starship classes existed. Some were multi-purpose and other were designed for a specific use.

The most famous ship of pre-Federation Starfleet was the NX-class Enterprise NX-01. That ship was the first to be equipped with the Warp 5 engine, and made first contact with over thirty species. Under the command of Captain Jonathan Archer, Enterprise established Earth as an interstellar power after negotiating treaties between the Vulcans and Andorians in 2152, saving the galaxy from the Sphere Builders and the Xindi in 2154, uncovering the lost teachings of Surak on Vulcan and preventing a Vulcan invasion of Andoria later in 2154, helping to instigate a cultural and political coup d’état against the dictatorial Vulcan head of state Administrator V’Las, and facilitating peace talks between the Andorians and Tellarites following a series of attacks on both races in late 2154. (ENT: “Broken Bow“, “Cease Fire“, “Zero Hour“, “The Forge“, “Awakening“, and more)

The United Earth Starfleet also built the NX-class Columbia, launching that ship in late 2154, with at least two more NX-class ships planned. (ENT: “Fortunate Son“, “Home“, “Affliction“)

The United Earth Starfleet did not have any jurisdiction over what happens aboard vessels operating in the Earth Cargo Service. That responsibility remained in the hands of the Earth Cargo Authority. (ENT: “Fortunate Son“, “Horizon“)

USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), DS9



USS Enterprise-A quarter

Constitution-class refit


The Constitution-class was historically one of the service’s most important starship classes. Starships of this class were the service’s frontline vessels in the 23rd century, designed for long-term exploratory missions lasting five Earth years. The most storied of these vessels was the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain James Tiberius Kirk. During his historic tour of duty as captain, countless new civilizations, planets, and anomalies were studied. (Star Trek: The Original Series; Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

In the late 2260s to early 2270s, the Constitution-class starships underwent a major refit program. The actual refitting took eighteen months of work and essentially a new vessel was built onto the bones of the old, replacing virtually every major system. These upgraded refit Constitutions provided a bridge in capability until the next class of modern Starfleet cruiser could take their place at the forefront of galactic exploration, diplomacy, and conflict. Thus, the Constitution-class continued in service for a further twenty years.

USS Excelsior, Flashback



The Excelsior-class was initially constructed during the early 2280s at Starfleet’s San Francisco Fleet Yards orbiting Earth. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country dedication plaque) Starfleet had high hopes for the first ship of this class, the prototype USS Excelsior, which was equipped with transwarp drive, and was regarded as that century’s “Great Experiment.” (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock) Despite the failure of the “Great Experiment,” Starfleet forged ahead with employing the Excelsior design. After remaining in Earth Spacedock until at least 2287, the prototype Excelsior was subsequently recommissioned for active service by 2290. In 2293, the Excelsior design was given greater notoriety when Starfleet passed on the name of a legacy. The launch of the USS Enterprise-B opened the door for the Excelsior class to become one of the most widely used designs in all of Starfleet, a design lasting well into the late 24th century. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; Star Trek Generations; TNG: “Encounter at Farpoint” – VOY: “Endgame“)

USS Enterprise-D, TNG Season 3-7



In the 24th century, the Excelsior design was gradually replaced as the service’s front-line vessel class by the Galaxy-class. Primarily designed at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards, this class was the most technologically sophisticated in the history of the service. (TNG: “Lonely Among Us“, “Contagion“) Vessels of this class were the largest in size of any ever produced in Federation history, and became well-known, both within and outside of the Federation, for their capabilities in both scientific enquiry and exploration, and military action. (TNG: “Tin Man“, “Chain of Command, Part I“; DS9: “Valiant“) The most recognized vessel of this class was the USS Enterprise-D, commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard. (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

USS Enterprise-E at warp

Sovereign class


Due to continual advancements in design, the Galaxy-class was eventually replaced by the Sovereign-class. This class featured innovations in weapons, warp propulsion and computer processing power. The most noteworthy vessel in this class was the USS Enterprise-E, again commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard. (Star Trek: First Contact)

USS Voyager, ventral view



Another very well known class was the Intrepid-class. This class was older than the Sovereign-class, but more advanced than the Galaxy-class. The Intrepid-class proved itself many times beyond what was expected of it when a ship of this class, the USS Voyager, commanded by Captain Kathryn Janeway, was cast nearly 70,000 light years away from Federation space, deep into the unexplored Delta Quadrant, in 2371. The ship supported Captain Janeway and her crew through dangers never before encountered by a Starfleet crew, and successfully returned to Federation space in 2378. For those seven years, the ship had no access to any kind of Starfleet supplies or maintenance whatsoever. (Star Trek: Voyager)

USS Prometheus, 2374 (fore)



Other noteworthy starship classes were the Akira-class, the Nova-class, the Olympic-class, the Defiant-class and the experimental Prometheus-class. The Defiant– and Prometheus-classes were primarily designed for military operations. (DS9: “The Search, Part I“; VOY: “Message in a Bottle“) The Olympic-class was designed as mobile emergency medical centers. (DS9: “Sacrifice of Angels“, “In the Pale Moonlight“, “Image in the Sand“, “The Siege of AR-558“, “What You Leave Behind“; TNG: “All Good Things…“)

Starfleet starships had navigational lights, red on the port (left) and green on the starboard (right), fitted to the hull. Such has been seen on vessels from the late 2100s through to the late 2300s. (Star Trek: Enterprise; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek Generations, Star Trek Nemesis)

Other vessels

Aside from its starships, the service also operated other vessels. Among these were several types of shuttlecraft, which were typically used to transport personnel over relatively short distances, such as from a starship orbiting a planet down to the planet’s surface. (ENT: “Chosen Realm“, et al.)

Starfleet shuttlecraft of the 23rd and 24th centuries also were equipped with limited warp capability, allowing transport of personnel within a range of several light years from the starship. (VOY: “Initiations“, “Tsunkatse“, “Good Shepherd“)

Time vessels

USS Relativity

The Wells-class


Interventions by Starfleet of the 29th century into the 24th century revealed vessels that the service used in that time. In this century, Starfleet had yet another mandate: to safeguard the timeline. Thus it operated vessels that were able to routinely traverse through time. These vessels were called timeships.

Classes of these vessels included the Wells-class and the Aeon-type.

General Orders and Regulations

The service maintained a set of regulations, known as Starfleet General Orders and Regulations. These governed all aspects of service operations and covered all possible situations it was thought that personnel might encounter, from protocol to situations of First Contact with unknown species.

The most important of these was termed General Order Number One, but was more commonly referred to as the Prime Directive.

Not all of the general orders and regulations were intended for general personnel knowledge. At least one, known as the Omega Directive, was a top secret of the highest order, and was known only to officers ranking captain or any flag officer rank. This was due to the extreme sensitivity and danger posed by the subject the directive dealt with. (VOY: “The Omega Directive“)


See also

Background information


The extent to which Starfleet may be considered a military organization is somewhat questionable. Nicholas Meyer remarked of Starfleet’s militarism, “It existed to some extent in the [original] television series but Gene Roddenberry was very adamant that the Starfleet was not a military or a militaristic operation [….] I thought it was at least as militaristic as, say, the Coast Guard.” (audio commentary, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Special Edition) DVD) Meyer also wrote about these ideological differences in his autobiographical book The View from the Bridge – Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood. Therein, he recalled, “[Roddenberry] was emphatic that Starfleet was not a military organization but something akin to the Coast Guard. This struck me as manifestly absurd, for what were Kirk’s adventures but a species of gunboat diplomacy wherein the Federation (read America, read the Anglo-Saxons) was always right and aliens were–in Kipling’s queasy phrase–’lesser breeds’? Yes, there was lip service to minority participation, but it was clear who was driving the boat.” (The View from the Bridge – Memories of Star Trek and a Life in Hollywood, hardcover ed., p. 81) On another instance, Meyer observed that, beginning with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (which Meyer himself directed), later Star Trek productions placed more emphasis on the militaristic perspective of Starfleet than the original series had. (audio commentary, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Special Edition) DVD) Those who were uncomfortable about Starfleet being depicted in a militaristic fashion in Star Trek II included not only Roddenberry but also Uhura actress Nichelle Nichols. In her book Beyond Uhura (hardcover ed., p. 248), she stated, “Portraying Starfleet as a military organization flew in the face of everything Star Trek stood for [….] At one point I forcefully but tactfully reminded Meyer and Harve [Bennet] that Starfleet was the philosophical descendant of NASA, not the Air Force.

A line included in the script for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country but not in the actual film was to have established that Starfleet was under civilian control, such that certain interstellar choices (for instance, whether to aid the Klingon Empire in avoiding economic collapse or to hamper the Empire, eventually causing them to become subservient to Starfleet) were entirely political rather than military decisions.

Ronald D. Moore commented, “I’ve always felt that Starfleet is the military/exploratory/scientific arm of the UFP.” (AOL chat, 1997) However, the Federation has never been shown to have a standing army. In “Peak Performance“, Captain Picard states, “Starfleet is not a military organization, its purpose is exploration.

Remarking on a Starfleet JAG getting involved with a civilian case with Richard Bashir, Moore said, “Starfleet is more than just a military entity and seems to have police and/or judicial functions.” (AOL chat, 1997)

Writers Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof tackled the theme of militarization head on in Star Trek Into Darkness. “After what happened to Vulcan, after Earth gets attacked, would Starfleet say, ‘well, we dodged that bullet, back to exploration?’ Or would they say ‘we have to prepare ourselves if this ever happens again.’ What would a more militarized Starfleet look like? Ultimately, the story would be about that, and for the soul of Starfleet.[1]


Regarding the quantity of starships Starfleet had in use in the late 2370s, Moore commented, “I wouldn’t be surprised if Starfleet had 30,000 ships or so.” (AOL chat, 1997) This was based on reasoning that the USS Hood has a registry of NCC-42296 while the USS Voyager is NCC-74656.

During Operation Return, Starfleet attempted to prevent the Dominion from bringing down the minefield, which would have allowed 2800 ships to come through the wormhole, which would allow for a Dominion total victory. Meaning that since, at that time of the war, the forces of both sides were about equal, the true size of the Dominion forces was much larger than Starfleet.

Doctor Zimmerman claimed that there were 675 EMH Mark I instances active in Starfleet before they were taken off duty during the Dominion War. (VOY: “Life Line“)

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