Apollo class U.S.S. Centaur filming model.At the turn of the 24th Century, Starfleet had three main classes of frigate: the Phobos class, Apollo class, and Okinawa class. Patrol forces, of which frigates are a large portion, are the mainstay of Starfleet, tasked with patrolling frontiers, guarding neutral zones, protecting commercial freighter traffic, and preventing piracy and smuggling. Often a frigate will be the first command of a Command-track Starfleet officer of rank Lieutenant Commander or Commander.

The Apollo class was conceived in the in the late 2290s from lessons being learned during the Tabula Rasa campaign, and it evolved into a design that would be Starfleet's principal Out-system Patrol Vessel (O.P.V.) going into the new century. Designed from the outset to fill in a newly-perceived gap in Starfleet's stable of starships, the Apollo's capabilities and mission role were designed around the so-called "5-S Criteria": Speed, Stealth, Sensors, Strike, and Specialisation. The Metar onslaught had exposed the fragility and porous nature of the Federation frontier once the border had been successfully breached, and while there was no way Starfleet could field enough ships to give total coverage of its entire frontier, certain massive gaps in the planetary and deep-space sensor nets needed to be addressed. The Apollo class frigate has since been rapidly introduced in large numbers to be Starfleet's tripwire and trap in the vast empty reaches of space between star systems and behind the Federation's border with her more belligerent adversaries.

Captain Adam Buckner of the Advanced Starship Design Bureau made his mark with this design, following in the illustrious footsteps of Admirals Probert and Sternbach before him. The general public was attracted to the large and prestigious designs such as the Excelsior, Ark Royal and Ulysses classes but Captain Buckner put the small but vital and widely varied roles of the patrol forces firmly back into the media spotlight and public consciousness. The popular Okinawa class multi-role patrol frigate needed an equally capable stable-mate and the Apollo class was designed for this purpose, much like the complementary roles of the 20th Century Sovremenny and Udaloy destroyer classes of the Soviet Navy.

The eventual layout of the Apollo's hullform utilised existing tactical systems as implemented on the extremely successful Miranda class cruiser, and a primary hull design heavily influenced by the still recent success of Project Excelsior, though considerably scaled down. Her nacelle design came from a mating of Excelsior technological development and the then-40 year old circumferential warp engine, giving rise to an all-new design of engine which lead to high sprinting speed at the cost of sustainable top-end speed.

Due to the similarity between much of the component parts of the Apollo class and other classes of starship already in service, the Apollo was rapidly prototyped, tested and entered into service. As with most Darwinian selection processes, a newer, hardier, more survivable frigate design emerged. Most of her trials and evaluations focussed on fully mapping her strengths, broadly similar those of the nuclear submarine classes of many worlds recent pasts: stealth; tracking targets while remaining undetected; signals, communications, and electronic intelligence gathering; covert special forces insertions; and precision strike missions.

The typical mission duration of the Apollo-class frigate is 3 years between refits. Their Commanding Officer usually holds the rank of Commander, though many talented Command-track officers have taken the conn as Lieutenant Commanders. The crew complement of an Apollo is usually around 115 personnel, which is up from her Okinawa-class stable-mate but still around half that of the Saladin-class escorts and variants she is now replacing. The sheer scale of the Federation border, with the convoluted three-dimensional nature of the boundaries, means that Starfleet has always played catch-up with policing numbers along its expanse. The Metar War showed the current frigate fleet was not up to the job on its own, and in addition, the end of the cold war with the Klingons exposed the corruption and black market trade that was thriving across all borders. In response to this, then Starfleet Commander-in-Chief William Smillie authorised a rapid build-up of all patrol and escort classes with the stated goal of closing down this illegal trade completely.

The stealth capabilities and advanced sensors of the prototype U.S.S. Apollo NX-9173 allowed her operational trials and evaluation to include intelligence-gathering missions on the Orion Syndicate. Able to remain undetected by the smugglers while still within her own effective sensor range, the Apollo was able to eavesdrop on their communications and, by use of pioneering warp signature identification software building on the work of Commander Uhura and Captain Spock's IFF software [see Starfleet Dynamics manual for specifics], positively identify ships and their direction of travel. Once the exchange was confirmed, the Apollo would sweep in, disable the surprised ships, and arrest the smugglers. The repeated success of this achievement sent shockwaves through the Syndicate and other criminal enterprises as well as impressing the Starfleet top brass. Even the Federation President was said to have asked Admiral Smillie just how quickly could these new frigates be built and deployed. It is said a Presidential Decree aided in prioritising the building of components and ships.

Size comparison between the Miranda class light cruiser and Apollo class frigate. Image copyright Bernd Schneider.The Apollo class is continuing its cycle of production, intended to replace the aging Saladin design and its variants in their frontline policing roles. Apollo-class starships do not have the full range and capabilities of even their Okinawa-class stablemates, but as a specialised anti-smuggling vessel they can punch above their weight in the modern galaxy. Armed with fifty photon torpedoes and state-of-the-art phaser systems, along with the best sensors Starfleet could install, the Apollo-class was the Starfleet reply to Klingon Bird of Prey flotillas, the threat of ever-increasing Romulan border probes before the Tomed Incident, and the continually increasing sophistication of smugglers, pirates, and organised crime.

The Nirophian Corridor has a handful of these frigates assigned to patrol its 100-plus light year length. Beginning in early 2309 with the assigning of the Leander, Hermione, and Ajax to Starbase 77 to guard against the regrettable increase in attention from pirates and raiders brought on by the previous assignment of a Starfleet cruiser squadron, the second deployment from 2312 brought in the starships Achilles, Agamemnon, Cerberus, Chimera, and Electra. These ships supplement the presence of the Sheffield and lend a hand where needed. These are not diplomatic starships and have few of the luxuries of larger starships such as the Excelsior or Miranda classes. With the Corridor being the 'Suez Canal of the Federation', these Apollo-class frigates are needed to keep the spacelanes open for trade, and safe from the depredations of belligerents.

USS Buckner AKA the Centaur. Image copyright © Adam Buckner. Apollo class. Click here for Adam Buckner's website.Apollo class frigate specifics:

Primary Hull:

  • 01 Main Bridge; Captain's Ready Room.
  • 02 Senior Officers' offices; Briefing Room; Shuttle Bay.
  • 03 Officers Quarters; Senior Crew Quarters.
  • 04 Main deck - Navigational Deflector; Sickbay; Transporter Rooms; Crew Quarters; Quartermaster's Office; Impulse Drive; Main Engineering; Security Section.
  • 05 Torpedo bays (fore and aft), Tactical Sensor Arrays; "Snooper" Eavesdropping Sensor Arrays.
  • 06 Navigational Sensor Arrays, Deuterium Tanks.

  • Length: 210 metres
  • Beam: 116.21m
  • Height: 37.55 metres
  • Crew: 115 [15 officers, 100 enlisted]
  • Cruising Warp 7 [OCU]
  • Max Warp 11 [OCU]
  • Maximum Speed: Warp 9.2 for 12 hours (new scale)
  • Armament: 21 triple type-7 phaser banks; 4 photon torpedo launchers
  • Defences: Deflector shields

    Apollo class [Note: not an exhaustive list.]

    Name Starship Registry Notes Author's Notes
    Apollo 9173 Prototype.
    Achilles 11771
    Abderus Companion of Hercules
    Aegis Shield of Zeus
    Aeolus 42041 King of the Winds
    Agamemnon 11638 King of Argos
    Ajax 11574 Cortin Zweller's first assignment in 2327. TNG "Tapestry"
    Amazon 11
    Andromeda 11047
    Antaeus 11 Wrestler slain by Hercules
    Aphrodite 11
    Arachne 11
    Arethusa 11038 Nymph changed to fountain
    Artemis 11712 Diana the Huntress
    Aurora 11 Eos
    Avalon 11 Isle where King Arthur is laid to rest
    Bacchante 11069
    Callisto 11 Arcadian nymph
    Cassandra 11 Daughter of Priam
    Cassiope 11 Mother of Andromeda
    Castor 11
    Centaur 42043 DS9
    Cerberus 11221
    Cerynitis 11 A sacred stag
    Chalybes 11 Race of iron forgers
    Charybdis 11475
    Chloris 11 Flower goddess
    Clement 12537 TNG "Lower Decks"
    Cyclops 11
    Cygnus 11
    Danae 11247
    Deianira 11 Wife of Hercules
    Diomede 11016
    Dido 11037
    Dionysus 11 Bacchus
    Electra 11227 Daughter of Oceanus
    Epeus 11 Maker of the Trojan Horse
    Eurydice 11
    Gage 11672 Lost at Wolf 359. DS9 "Emissary"
    Galatea 11699 Statue of Pygmalion
    Gorgon 11
    Hector 11 Champion of Troy
    Hephaestus 11 Vulcan
    Hercules 11
    Hermione 11458 Daughter of Menelaus
    Hippolyte 11 Queen of the Amazons
    Icarus 11
    Iolaus 11 Nephew of Hercules
    Ixion 11
    Jason 11 Destroyed by the Dominion
    Leander 11109 named for a class of RN frigates.
    Medusa 11
    Menelaus 11300 King of Sparta
    Minotaur 11
    Naiad 11039
    Nestor 11
    Olympia 11
    Pandora 11
    Penelope 11127
    Persephone 11
    Perseus 11
    Phoebe 11042
    Pholus 11 A centaur
    Polyphemus 11 Companion of Hercules
    Scylla 11171 named for the Daughter of Minos
    Sphinx 11
    Syrinx 11 Nymph turned into reed.
    Thor 11

    Centaur model from the side. Author's Notes:

    The designation Apollo class for this particular Star Trek model is conjecture from the era that the model is from and the obvious design gap. U.S.S. Centaur, as shown in DS9 episode 'A Time To Stand' featured this kit-bash of the Excelsior and Miranda class models. The DS9 Technical Manual did not give a starship class designation, but many fans including Nick Cook and myself both consider this to be the Apollo class that have starship registries in the 11000-range. Starships from this class include: Achilles, Ajax, Clement, Gage, T'Pau and Agamemnon. Many names are taken from mythology which, in conjunction with the registry numbers from around the Excelsior period, make the Centaur NCC-42043 compelling as Apollo class.

    Stephen L's superb model of the Centaur. Image copyright Stephen L., all rights reserved. Click on the image for Stephen's site.One of the greatest debates about the Centaur was the size. The DS9TM states 381 metres which makes her Excelsior saucer sized hull and nacelles with an impossibly big bridge and torpedo pod, not to mention top windows that would be three decks in length(!). A smaller size which is compatible with the dorsal windows, bridge and torpedo pod is the alternative chosen here and also finally agreed upon by Bernd Scneider of Ex Asteris Scientia - 210 metres as opposed to 381. While originally opposed to the 210m frigate and preferring the 381m light cruiser, a conversation with the Centaur's creator has firmly ended the debate. Adam Buckner designed the ship from the outset to be scaled to her Miranda hull pieces as a small, fast, deep space prowler.

    Bernd Schneiders deck comparisons showing how the actual Miranda size compares to incorrect larger size.From Bernd Schneider's website, the comparison to Reliant sized parts gave a total of six decks. This matches up with the eleven decks that the Miranda class has. This is a frigate, not a cruiser-sized object and the saucer section is small. The ship will only have the bare basics for science and research, being geared more for the practical purposes of border patrol and anti-smuggling duties. This is very similar to the Royal Navy River-class Offshore Patrol Vessels (O.P.V.) Tyne, Mersey, Severn, and the larger Clyde. These ships look after the merchant trade that keeps the Federation going, they stop the smugglers, the pirates, the drug and people traffickers. These are the equivalents of the Australian Navy Armidale class - just like HMAS Hammersley in Sea Patrol.

    Stephen L.'s fantastic website was one of the strongest sources of reason for the scale of the ship. Although Stephen himself goes for the 381 metres long argument, the size of the bridge, torpedo pod and windows on the dorsal do not add up - or scale up - at all.

    Click here to go to U.S.S. Leander.Click here to go to U.S.S. Wells.Click here to go to U.S.S. Electra.Click here to go to U.S.S. Cerberus.Click here to go back to Starfleet.
    Click here to go to U.S.S. Galatea.Click here to go to U.S.S. Artemis.Click here to go to U.S.S. Achilles.Click here to go to U.S.S. Scylla.Click here to go to Okinawa class.