USS Defiant

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USS Defiant
The USS Defiant NX-74205
First appearanceOriginal: "The Search"
New: "The Dogs of War"
Last appearanceOriginal: "The Changing Face of Evil"
New: "What You Leave Behind"
AffiliationUnited Federation of Planets
LaunchedOriginal: 2370
New: 2375
General characteristics
RegistryNX-74205 (as the First Defiant)
NCC-75633 (as the second Defiant, originally the USS São Paulo)
ArmamentsPulsed and beam phasers
Photon torpedoes
Quantum torpedoes
DefensesDeflector shields
Cloaking device
Ablative armor
Maximum speedWarp factor 9.5 (Upgraded 2371)
PropulsionImpulse drive
Warp drive
RCS Thrusters
Length170 metres (560 ft)
Width134 metres (440 ft)
Height30 metres (98 ft)

The USS Defiant (NX-74205) is a fictional starship in the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9) and the feature film Star Trek: First Contact in 1996. On the show, it is lead ship of her class and one of the Federation's first purpose-built warships, the Defiant first appears in the third-season DS9 episode "The Search, Part I" (aired 1994), after which it plays a significant role throughout the series in the ensuing Dominion War.[1] While the original Defiant is destroyed in the seventh season episode "The Changing Face of Evil", Starfleet sends a replacement ship of the same class, the USS Sao Paulo in the episode "The Dogs of War", which receives special dispensation from Starfleet Operations to be renamed as Defiant. This ship is both a setting and plot element in the critically acclaimed Dominion war story arc of the show, which has been called one of "the richest narratives" in the Star Trek franchise. When it was destroyed, the show writers had wanted a new ship, but due to budget constraints they brought back an identical design with the same name.

Unlike other Federation spacecraft, the Defiant has a cloaking device, which is on loan from the Romulan aliens on the television show.[2]

The spacecraft was designed for the show by Jim Martin, Gary Hutzel and Tony Meinger.

VFX Design[edit]

For the first two seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, stories requiring main characters traveling off-station typically involved a series of small vessels called runabouts. With the introduction of the major power known as the Dominion in the second season, producer Ira Steven Behr and writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe believed that runabouts were insufficient to confront this new threat and successfully convinced executive producer Rick Berman of the need for a new ship. The Defiant was initially designed by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: First Contact art illustrator Jim Martin with contributions from visual effects supervisor Gary Hutzel and modelmaker Tony Meininger. The Defiant's addition to DS9 was intended to solve the problem of cramped runabout sets according to statements by Robert-Hewitt Wolfe. Original designs called for a "beefed-up" runabout-type ship, but this gave way to a full-fledged starship design, initially called Valiant. This name was dropped out of fear that it would conflict with Star Trek: Voyager and its titular starship, also beginning with a "V".[3] For a brief time it was considered to retain Valiant as the name of the class,[citation needed] but dialog in "The Search" and the ship's dedication plaque firmly establish the Defiant as the pathfinder.

A miniature model of the USS Defiant went for 106,000 USD in 2006 at auction.[4]


The ship's backstory is outlined in its first appearance, the third-season episode "The Search". The Defiant is a prototype vessel for the Defiant-class warship, originally developed to counter the Borg threat. It is officially designated as an escort vessel to avoid giving the impression that Starfleet builds warships, as it is primarily a peacekeeping and exploration force. Following the Borg invasion, the United Federation of Planets approved a project committed to enhancing Starfleet's offensive and defensive military capabilities; the Defiant was the end result of that project. According to his statement in the episode "Defiant", Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) was in charge of the shipyard where the Defiant was built and helped design it during his assignment to the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards.

In the show the Defiant has a cloaking device, on loan from the Romulans.[2] In the Star Trek universe in this period, the Federation does not have cloaking devices, whereas the Romulans and Klingons do use this technology.[2]

Although it was designed to be fast and highly maneuverable with powerful weaponry, the Defiant was "overgunned and overpowered" for a vessel of its size. The ship's structural integrity field needed extensive modifications to keep the Defiant from tearing itself apart. The ship was designed specifically for battle, featuring innovative pulse-phaser cannons and quantum torpedo armaments, in addition to photon torpedoes, standard phasers and a high-capacity deflector shield system. Another asset is its ablative armour, enabling the ship to sustain multiple hits from enemy weapons, even with the shields inoperable, with minimal damage. Inside, the Defiant is relatively spartan by Starfleet standards of the time: the ship is not designed to carry family members, has no science labs or holodecks, and has a limited infirmary. Crew quarters consist of two bunk beds and a general computer interface. This much more sparse setup is much to Lt. Cmdr. Worf's approval, and soon after his transfer to Deep Space 9, he decides to live permanently on board the Defiant.

The subsiding Borg threat and failed systems tests (particularly in regard to the ship's overpowered engines) led the development project to be stalled and the prototype to be mothballed. Following work done at Deep Space Nine, the class would later go into production with at least a half dozen other ships in service by 2374 and onward.

A shuttlecraft of the Defiant was introduced as the Chaffee shuttlecraft in the book Starship Spotter: Star Trek All Series.[5] It made its first appearance in the episode "The Sound of Her Voice" and is named after Apollo astronaut Roger Chaffee.[6]

Television series and films[edit]

First contact with the Jem'Hadar in 2370 convinced Sisko to ask Starfleet for the Defiant so he would be better prepared for contact with the leaders of the Dominion. Starfleet agreed and the Defiant was posted at Deep Space Nine under Sisko's command. The Defiant allows the station's crew to travel faster and farther with far more firepower than the station's Danube-class runabouts can provide. While there is no officially designated commanding officer, Sisko is most frequently seen in command.

The Defiant is the first Starfleet ship to legally carry a cloaking device. Supplied by the Romulan Star Empire, the cloak is initially operated by a Romulan officer serving aboard the Defiant. An agreement between the Federation and the Romulans limits the use of the cloak to intelligence-gathering missions in the Gamma Quadrant in exchange for all of Starfleet's intelligence on the Dominion. However, on several occasions, such as the rescue of the Detapa Council (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior"), the cloaking device was used illegally in the Alpha Quadrant.

In 2373, the Defiant is part of a Starfleet task force that tries to stop the Borg in the Battle of Sector 001, as seen in Star Trek: First Contact. While many of the Federation starships are destroyed early in the engagement, the Defiant manages to continue fighting the Borg Cube as it approaches Earth. However, by then it is shieldless and weaponless, so its commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Worf orders the crew to prepare for ramming speed. This kamikaze action is prevented when the Enterprise arrives and draws Borg fire away, while also beaming Worf and the other surviving crew off of the stricken Defiant. The Defiant is left severely damaged and adrift but the Enterprise's crew assure Worf that it can be salvaged. An early screenplay draft called for the Defiant to be destroyed, but Deep Space Nine executive producer Ira Steven Behr objected to the destruction of his show's ship and so the idea was dropped.[7]

In the episode "The Changing Face of Evil", the USS Defiant is finally destroyed. The writers had wanted a new ship, rather then a replacement for the USS Defiant but they did not have the budget for a new ship. As a result they replace the Defiant with the same spacecraft design.[8]

In 2375, the Breen destroyed the USS Defiant during the Second Battle of Chin'toka. The battle marks the first time the Breen use their energy-dampening weapon.

During the planning of the invasion of Cardassia Prime some months later, a new Defiant-class starship, the USS Sao Paulo (NCC-75633), is assigned to Deep Space Nine. The Starfleet Chief of Operations grants special dispensation to rename the ship Defiant. Although the USS Sao Paulo commissioning plaque gives a registry of "NCC-75633", in all exterior shots the new ship has the "NX-74205" registry. This is because most external shots of the new vessel were reused shots of the old one, and the new CG shots subsequently used the same registry number for consistency.

Ron Moore said in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion that the new ship was intended to be designated "Defiant-A", but it would have been too costly to redo the CG model for one episode because stock shots from earlier episodes had to be used as well for budgetary reasons. Nevertheless, Moore stated that as far as he was concerned, the change did happen.

In the DS9 episode "Shattered Mirror", a Mirror Universe version of the Defiant is seen, constructed by the Terran Rebellion. Mirror-O'Brien had stolen the blueprints for the Defiant from Deep Space Nine's computer in a previous episode, but the Terran rebels encounter the same structural problems that the crew in the "prime universe" had encountered in early season three. The rebels kidnap Ben and Jake Sisko because they need Ben to repair their Defiant's design flaws. A computer readout, barely visible onscreen, gives the ship's name as the "ISS Defiant".

The Defiant Class ship USS Valiant (NCC-74210) was used as a training vessel by Red Squad cadets. The Valiant ended up trapped in enemy territory during the Dominion War and most of the training officers were killed early on, leaving the ship to be manned entirely by the cadets. (DS9: Valiant)

Spin-off works[edit]

  • The USS Defiant, Moscow, Valiant and São Paulo are selectable on the PC game Star Trek: Legacy in The Next Generation era.
  • The Defiant-class is a playable ship class in the MMORPG Star Trek Online. In the game's story, the Defiant is depicted as still being in active service at Deep Space Nine in 2409. (Upgraded versions are also available, under the class names Sao Paolo and Valiant, with interchangeable artwork.)
  • The USS Defiant and ISS Defiant are purchasable expansion ships in the board game Star Trek Attack Wing.
  • A likeness of the Defiant-class is a playable ship class in the turn-based strategy game Birth of the Federation. It is referred to as an Escort-class ship, as a reference to official Starfleet records as recited by Benjamin Sisko in "The Search".
  • Defiant class ships can be built in the Star Trek: Armada II and Star Trek: Armada III PC Games, as well as Star Trek Timelines mobile game app.


The USS Defiant is noted as a powerful spacecraft vessel of the Star Trek science fiction universe in the late 24th century.[9] CBR notes that it combines extra shielding, firepower, and a cloaking device, in a maneuverable spacecraft design.[9][10] In the show, these features allow it combat enemies such as the Dominion aliens, and they compare the Defiant to the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars.[9] also noted that USS Defiant as one of the more agile science fiction spacecraft, compared to some of the slower, almost-nautical movement of larger spacecraft of Star Trek.[10]

The moment when Sisko decloaks the Defiant spacecraft for the first time in "The Search" was rated by in 2015 as one of the top 35 moments in Star Trek; they said it marked a "great start" to the third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.[11] The addition of the USS Defiant helped the show dig deeper into stories set in the Gamma Quadrant, as well as the long war-saga arc of the show's later seasons.[12] The USS Defiant was featured in the 1996 film First Contact, and the bridge set was re-used from the television show.[13]


  1. ^ "Happy 25th Birthday to Star Trek's Defiant, the Lean, Mean Starship of Deep Space Nine". io9. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Jones, Mark; Parkin, Lance (2003). Beyond the Final Frontier: An Unauthorised Review of the Trek Universe on Television and Film ; Season Summaries, Characters, Episodes, Movies. Contender books. p. 386. ISBN 978-1-84357-080-6.
  3. ^ DeCandido, Keith (October 18, 2013). "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: "The Search, Part I"". Tor Books. Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  4. ^ "STARSHIP DEFIANT MODEL". Retrieved February 16, 2021.
  5. ^ Starship Spotter: Star Trek All Series by Adam 'mojo' Lebowitz, Robert Bonchune 2012
  6. ^ Okuda, Michael; Okuda, Denise; Mirek, Debbie (May 17, 2011). The Star Trek Encyclopedia. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-4688-7.
  7. ^ Braga & Moore.[full citation needed]
  8. ^ Jones, Mark; Parkin, Lance (2003). Beyond the Final Frontier: An Unauthorised Review of the Trek Universe on Television and Film ; Season Summaries, Characters, Episodes, Movies. Contender books. p. 269. ISBN 978-1-84357-080-6.
  9. ^ a b c "Star Trek: The 20 Most Powerful Ships In The Galaxy, Ranked". CBR. December 17, 2018. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Snowden, Scott (April 19, 2019). "The Star Trek: Discovery Finale Leaves a Confusing Conclusion to Season 2". Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  11. ^ "The top 35 moments in Star Trek history". January 2, 2015. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  12. ^ "What We Left Behind: Biggest Reveals From The Deep Space Nine Documentary". ScreenRant. May 15, 2019. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  13. ^ "20 Hidden Details In Star Trek: First Contact Only Super Fans Noticed". ScreenRant. March 21, 2019. Retrieved June 23, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and the U. S. S Defiant Illustrated Handbook, Eaglemoss Publications Limited, Jan 12, 2021. 192 pages.

External links[edit]