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[Ships Of The Line] Defiant Class – the ‘Tough Little Ship’

[Ships Of The Line] Defiant Class – the ‘Tough Little Ship’

Starfleet ships are designed for exploration. The Defiant is one of very few designed to fight.

Introduced in the third season of Deep Space Nine, the prototype Defiant was conceptualised to give Sisko and his crew a weapon to fight against the Dominion with, as well as to open up the wider world of DS9 in something a little heftier than a runabout. Initially planned to ba a larger version of a runabout, producers decided to go big or go home. But, not too big….

“The writers requested a small starship which was designed by the Federation to battle the Borg.” Designer Jim Martin explained in a 2000 edition of Star Trek magazine, delving into the process of what was, at the time, the USS Valiant.

Offering producers a variety of ideas based around more traditional compact Starfleet designs that could utilise the Runabout set, Martin slipped in a few original and rejected drawings; one of which was a non-Starfleet freighter for a completely different purpose. That non traditional ship drew DS9’s attention. It was different, unique. Something that would stand out yet with some refinement, could still be Starfleets solution to the imminent Borg – and now Dominion – threat.

The Defiant was an odd ship. In comparison to other ships of the era, it’s compact design made it a much smaller vessel than the likes of the Enterprise or even Voyager. It’s size is often a thing for debate with plans being designed for both a four and six deck version, but even upscaled it was a cramped and bare bones ship. Crew quarters were tiny. Resources were sparse. Moving from the bridge to Engineering was just a swift walk. Consoles and features were bare bones.

This wasn’t a ship designed to look pretty and fly the flag; it was simply designed to fight. Everything was bare bones and condensed, from tiny bunk rooms for the crew to a minimalist bridge. Even sickbay was a small compact room while the entire engineering operation was condensed to one to-level engineering bay!

Armed with (at the time) experimental quantum torpedoes and rapid fire harsh phaser canons,the ship was overpowered to maximise it’s strength and impact. When the Defiant got to DS9 it needed major modifications to handle the amount of power it’s would output; unchecked the ship would tear itself apart. But when working the way she was supposed to, Defiant was a vicious beast who’s bite was just as harsh as her bark.

Sketched as a rough idea for a raider in the Mirror Universe episode Crossover, the basic concept of the Defiant was smoothed out from a jagged shape into something a little smoother. When working on that refinement process, Martin didn’t really consider the task at hand as an idea that would add a new element to Starfleet design or the legacy of creating a ‘hero’ ship. It was just another bit of work to get out of the way. ”It’s only after the fact that you think, ‘Wow, that was a different idea.’ I’m glad we took the chance to take a little bit of a departure.”

Attached to Deep Space Nine, Defiant would end up becoming an extension of the station; often taking the crew to exploration or diplomatic missions outwith the station. But being designed for war, she was also put to good use combating the Dominion threat – a threat the Federation hadn’t yet prepared for.

A not so simple prototype, the ship would eventually fight against the Borg with Commander Worf in the centre seat, helping to combat an attack on Earth in 2373, but would spend most of her time in combat against the Dominion. The ship would eventually be destroyed by a Breen weapon that negated power supply and shut down all systems.

Thankfully, thanks to the Dominion War, the prototype was now in mass production and the Defiant was replaced with a rechristened USS Sao Paulo that would eventually end up on display in the fleet museum.

Defiant Class ships are available and in stock with Quadrant 2, the latest comissioned being the USS Artemis. You can take a cl;oser look at the design thanks to a recreation by Star Trek Online artist Thomas Marrone via his ArtStation account. You can also check out a lovely recreation of the MSD for the Defiant by USS Tesla’s own Alexander Richardson at LCARSGFFX.

Our latest issue of Comms takes a look at the last year of Star Trek, sci fi, superheropes and more!! With the usual features including What If, Fistful Of Data and more, the “All Good Things” issue of Comms is available as part of SFCQ2’s free membership! To find out more visit our Comms preview or Enlist Today!

ADM JT Marczynka, DoFA
Creator of things, writer of words, caffeine addict. Director of Communications for Starfleet Command Quadrant 2.

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