DS9 Stories/News: USS Defiant – Sisko’s Tough Little Ship

“She may have flaws, but she has teeth.”

– Benjamin Sisko, 2371 (The Search, Part I)

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. The lead ship of her class and one of the Federation’s first purpose-built warships, the Defiant first appears in the DS9 episode “The Search, Part I“, after which it plays a significant role throughout the series in the ensuing Dominion War.

While the original Defiant is destroyed in the show’s seventh season, Starfleet sends a replacement ship of the same class, the USS Sao Paulo, which receives special dispensation from the Chief of Starfleet Operations to be renamed as the Defiant.

The USS Defiant (NX-74205) was a Federation Defiant-class escort that was in service with Starfleet in the late 24th century. The Defiant was one of at least three Federation starships to bear the name, and the prototype for her class of starship.

Development on the Defiant began around 2366 in response to the Borg threat. Although officially classified as an escort vessel, the Defiant was nothing less than Starfleet’s first design of warship; intended to fight, and ultimately defeat, the Borg. The vessel featured minimal equipment for scientific research and was not designed to accommodate families. (DS9: “The Search, Part I“)

In the episode “Defiant“, the character Gul Dukat describes the ship as “one of the most heavily armed warships in the Quadrant,” while in the film Star Trek: First Contact, William Riker describes her as a “tough little ship.”

The Defiant was initially designed by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine 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“. For a brief time it was considered to retain Valiant as the name of the class: but dialog in “The Search” and the ship’s dedication plaque firmly establish the Defiant as the pathfinder.


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 the perception 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.

Sisko’s Design

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 and quantum torpedo armaments, in addition to photon torpedoes, standard phasers and a high-capacity deflector shield system.

Another asset is its ablative armor, 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. Individual quarters have food replicators, but the mess hall is a popular place for the crew to eat on missions.

Defiant Bridge
Defiant Bridge
NAME, REGISTRY U.S.S. Defiant, NX-74205
STARSHIP CLASS Defiant-Class Escort (experimental prototype)
WEIGHT 355,000 MT
CREW COMPLEMENT 50 Crewmen (15 skeletal crew)
PRIMARY PROPULSION Matter/Antimatter Reactor Type-VII (warp quadcore)
SECONDARY PROPULSION 2 Deuterium Fusion Drive motors (impulse engines)
SUSTAINABLE WARP 7 (Cruise Velocity); 9.8 (12 hours); 9.982 (Max)
ARMAMENT Ablative Hull Armor; Twin-Pulse Phaser Cannons; 8 Torpedo Launchers: Mark-VIII and Mark-IX Photon Torpedoes and Mark-X Quantum Torpedoes
COMPUTER CORE 1 Main Computer Core. Isolinear optical circuits.
AUXILIARY CRAFT 2 Danube-Class Runabouts
CLOAKING DEVICE Romulan D’Deridex-class Warbird cloak


The Defiant-class Prototype Escort Starship development project began in 2366. The Defiant starship was designed to defend the Federation from a Borg invasion. However, design flaws during its shakedown cruise caused Starfleet to abandon the project. The ship was over-powered and over-gunned for a ship of its size. Cmdr. Benjamin Sisko was in charge of the Defiant development project at the Mars Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards.

In 2371, the U.S.S. Defiant NX-74205 prototype was assigned to Captain Benjamin Sisko at station Deep Space Nine to defend the Federation and Bajoran sector against the increasing Jem’Hadar and Dominion threat. The Deep Space Nine engineers under the command of Chief Miles O’Brien and Captain Sisko have since ironed out all the problems that plagued the ship.

The Defiant is equipped with a Romulan D’Deridex-class Warbird cloaking device, on loan from the Romulan Empire to be used in the Gamma Quadrant, in exchange for intelligence information on the Dominion. Romulan Subcommander T’Rul supervised the installation of the cloak.

The U.S.S. Defiant is the only Defiant-class starship with a cloak.

The Defiant weapons systems make it the one of the most powerful warships in Starfleet. It is outfitted with twin-pulse phaser cannons, Mark-VIII and Mark-IX photon torpedoes and Mark-X quantum torpedoes. It also employs a dual-layer ablative armor hull.

By 2374, Starfleet has at least three Defiant-class starships in service, including the U.S.S. Valiant NCC-74210. Two Defiant-class ships were sent to intercept the U.S.S. Prometheus NX-59650 when it was comandeered by Romulans in 2374.

In 2371, Captain Ramirez took the U.S.S. Valiant NCC-74210 on a training mission with 35 Starfleet Red Squad Cadets. They were to obtain technical data on a new Dominion battleship. During a skirmish with a Cardassian warship, the seven officers were killed shortly after the mission began and Captain Ramirez gave Cadet Tim Watters a field promotion before he died.

USS Valiant Destroyed
USS Valiant Destroyed

Eight months later, the U.S.S. Valiant was destroyed in 2374 after Acting Captain Tim Watters attempted to destroy the Dominion battleship. The Valiant and 34 Cadets were lost. Only Cadet Dorian Collins survived, along with Jake Sisko and Ensign Nog.

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.

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 designated commanding officer, Sisko is most frequently seen as skipper of the Defiant.

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 Starfleet 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.

Launched in 2370, on stardate 47538.5, from the Antares Ship Yards, the Defiant’s trial runs did not end well for Starfleet. The vessel was overpowered and over-gunned for a ship of its size – so much so that the Defiant nearly shook itself apart when the engines were tested at full power. Ultimately these design flaws, combined with the Borg threat becoming less urgent, led Starfleet to the decision to abandon the project and place the prototype in storage. (Defiant dedication plaque; DS9: “The Search, Part I“)

Defiant's Bridge
Defiant’s Bridge

After the destruction of the USS Odyssey in late-2370, Commander Benjamin Sisko, who served on the team that designed the Defiant, requested that the vessel be pulled out of storage and assigned to Deep Space 9 to counter the new Dominion threat. Arriving in early-2371, the Defiant’s first assignment was to attempt to convince the Founders of the Dominion that the Federation posed no threat to them. After a special amendment was made to the Treaty of Algeron, the Romulan Star Empire installed one of their cloaking devices aboard the vessel to aid in its mission – in exchange for any intelligence gained on the Dominion. (DS9: “The Search, Part I“)

USS Defiant Class Sickbay
USS Defiant Class Sickbay
USS Defiant Class Engineering Section
USS Defiant Class Engineering Section


The mission did not go well for the DS9 crew. Shortly after entering the Gamma Quadrant, the Defiant was attacked by several Jem’Hadar fighters. During the resulting battle, the vessel was boarded and the senior officers were captured and placed into a simulation to test how Starfleet might react to the Dominion attempting to gain a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant. Ultimately the crew was discovered by Bajoran Militia officers Major Kira Nerys and Odo, and were allowed to return to DS9 with the Defiant. (DS9: “The Search, Part II“)

USS Defiant Schematics Blueprints
USS Defiant Schematics Blueprints

DS9’s chief of operations, Miles O’Brien, spent two weeks overhauling the Defiant’s structural integrity field to overcome the ships design flaws. (DS9: “Shattered Mirror“)

Several weeks later, the Defiant transported Lieutenant Jadzia Dax to the Trill homeworld to receive medical treatment. (DS9: “Equilibrium“)

When Major Kira was abducted by the Cardassian Union‘s Obsidian Order, Commander Sisko took the Defiant into Cardassian space in a rescue attempt. To ensure the Cardassian’s did not identify the ship, the vessel’s shield harmonics were reconfigured to make the Defiant appear to be a Kobheerian freighter. (DS9: “Second Skin“)

The Defiant made contact with the planet Meridian during an exploration mission in the Gamma Quadrant. (DS9: “Meridian“)

Later in 2371, Maquis operative Thomas Riker hijacked the Defiant and used it to attack several Cardassian targets. Commander Sisko was forced to travel to Cardassia Prime with Gul Dukat to help track down the vessel. Although Dukat initially wanted to destroy the Defiant, he agreed to release the vessel and the Maquis crew to Starfleet custody in exchange for the Defiant’s scans of the Orias system and Riker himself. After facing overwhelming opposition from Obsidian Order forces deployed from the Orias system, Riker ultimately surrendered and the Defiant was returned to DS9. (DS9: “Defiant“)

The Defiant visited Earth later that year, where the vessel’s senior staff was to attend the Annual Starfleet Symposium on the current situation in the Gamma Quadrant. (DS9: “Past Tense, Part I“)

Several weeks later, the Defiant was used to carry out a joint project between the governments of the Federation, Cardassia, and Bajor to establish communications between the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants. (DS9: “Destiny“)

1 Main Bridge
2 Transporter Platform
3 Deuterium Storage Tanks
4 Plasma Vents
5 Captain’s Ready Room
6 Pulse Phaser Canon
7 Engineering, Upper Level
8 Sensor Palette
32 Phaser Charging Coils


Deck 2
4 Plasma Vents
9 Impulse Engines
10 Engineering, Main Level
11 Main Computer Core
12 Briefing Room
13 Medical/Science Lab area
14 Sickbay
15 Warp Coils Port/Starboard
16 Mess Hall (2 Port)
17 Targetting Scanners
18 Main Transporter Room

Deck 3
9 Impulse Engines
11 Main Computer Core
15 Warp Coils Port/Starboard
19 Torpedo Magazine
20 Shuttle Bays 1 & 2
21 Antimatter Storage
22 Cargo Bay Pad
23 Bay Door Mechanism
24 Cargo Storage Bay
25 Shuttle Bay 3
26 Cargo Transporter
27 Main Airlock Port/Starboard
35 Brig

deck 4
15 Warp Coils Port/Starboard
19 Torpedo Magazine
22 Cargo Bay Pad
23 Bay Door Mechanism
28 Torpedo Launcher
29 Landing Leg
30 Ventral Sensors
31 Navigational Deflector
33 3m x 3m Holosuite (Under Construction)
34 Stellar Cartography/Planetary Science Lab (Custom Construction)

After a joint Obsidian Order-Tal Shiar fleet entered the Gamma Quadrant on a mission to destroy the Founders’ homeworld, Vice Admiral Toddman ordered that the Defiant remain at DS9 to protect the Bajoran sector from any Dominion retaliation. Despite these orders, Commander Sisko took the vessel into the Gamma Quadrant in order to rescue Odo and Elim Garak, who were being held on one of the Romulan vessels in the fleet. Despite sabotage of the cloaking device by security chief Lieutenant Commander Michael Eddington, the Defiant ultimately succeeded in its mission and returned to DS9. Admiral Toddman decided not to file charges against Sisko or any of the other officers who had joined him. (DS9: “Improbable Cause“, “The Die is Cast“)

In late-2371, a Changeling posing as Federation ambassador Krajensky sent the Defiant on a patrol mission of the Federation-Tzenkethi border. During the mission, the Changeling sabotaged the Defiant, causing it to fly out of control towards a Tzenkethi colony that was intended to be attacked; the Dominion hoped it would provoke a second war between the two powers. The crew was eventually able to regain control of the vessel and kill the Changeling. (DS9: “The Adversary“)

In early-2372, the Defiant fought its way through Cardassian space against Klingon forces to bring the Detapa Council to Deep Space 9, once briefly using its tractor beam as a ‘substitute’ shield to protect it from enemy fire when it was forced to drop its usual shields to beam the Council to safety. (DS9: “The Way of the Warrior“)

The Defiant using its tractor beam
The Defiant using its tractor beam

The Defiant was used by Doctor Lenara Kahn and her research team in an attempt to create an artificial wormhole. (DS9: “Rejoined“)

Several weeks later, the Defiant traveled to the Gamma Quadrant to meet with a Karemma starship. During the meeting, the two vessels were attacked by Jem’Hadar forces. The Defiant engaged the Jem’Hadar in the atmosphere of a gas giant and took severe damage; several of the senior officers were incapacitated. Under the command of Lieutenant Commander Worf, the Defiant was able to destroy the Jem’Hadar ships and rescue the Karemma. (DS9: “Starship Down“)

In mid-2372, Commander Worf took the Defiant to Earth to assist Captain Sisko in foiling a plot by Admiral Leyton which would have overthrown the Federation government and established martial law. While on route, the Defiant was forced to engage the USS Lakota under the command of Captain Erika Benteen; who was operating under the assumption that the Defiant was manned by Changelings. The Lakota eventually stood down when Benteen refused orders to destroy the Defiant, which was allowed to continue to Earth with the evidence Sisko needed to stop the coup. (DS9: “Homefront“, “Paradise Lost“)

Major Kira used the Defiant to stop the Klingon Empire from mining the Bajoran sector later that year. (DS9: “Sons of Mogh“)

Captains Quarters - the captains quarter are located on deck 3
Captains Quarters – the captains quarter are located on deck 3
Counseling - need a break, time to think go find somewhere else this is my ready room
Counseling – need a break, time to think go find somewhere else this is my ready room
Sickbay - The good doctor is always here to help you with all the little bumps and bruises of daily duty
Sickbay – The good doctor is always here to help you with all the little bumps and bruises of daily duty
Senior officers quarters
Senior officers quarters
Crew Quarters - these are the crew quarters the first are on deck 2 the other is on deck 1
Crew Quarters – these are the crew quarters the first are on deck 2 the other is on deck 1

The Defiant later became home to Worf, who found adapting to life on Deep Space 9 difficult. Captain Sisko gave him approval to live on the vessel so long as it did not interfere with his duties. (DS9: “Bar Association“)

During an escort mission where the Defiant was protecting several Cardassian freighters against Klingon raids, Commander Worf accidentally destroyed a Klingon civilian transport ship. The Klingon Empire requested that Worf be extradited to face justice for the ship’s destruction, but was refused when it was determined that the transport ship was unmanned. (DS9: “Rules of Engagement“)

After an attack on DS9 by Jem’Hadar rebels, the Defiant pursued their vessel into the Gamma Quadrant. After rescuing the crew of a disabled Jem’Hadar fighter, the crews of the Defiant and the fighter worked together to destroy an Iconian gateway that was under the control of the rebels. (DS9: “To the Death“)

In late-2372, the Defiant took Odo to the Founder’s new homeworld where he was to be judged for killing the Krajensky changeling the previous year. The Female Changeling allowed the vessel to personally transport him to the Founder’s homeworld so long as one of her pilots entered the coordinates for the planet and wiped them from the ship’s memory afterwards. While the vessel was in orbit, Garak unsuccessfully attempted to use the Defiant’s weapons to attack the Great Link, but he was caught and prevented from doing so by Worf. (DS9: “Broken Link“)

In early-2373, the Defiant tractored a Jem’Hadar fighter captured by Captain Sisko back to Federation space. (DS9: “The Ship“)

A few weeks later, Captain Sisko took the Defiant to Ajilon Prime to get his son, Jake, off the front lines of the war with the Klingons. (DS9: “Nor the Battle to the Strong“)

The Defiant was later transported to the 23rd century, where it encountered the original USS Enterprise during its visit to Deep Space K-7 in 2268. The crew stopped Arne Darvin from killing Captain James T. Kirk with a bomb implanted in a dead Tribble. (DS9: “Trials and Tribble-ations“)

The Defiant rescued Odo and Quark from an L-class planet their runabout had crashed on after being sabotaged by the Orion Syndicate (DS9: “The Ascent“)

While pursuing Maquis-defector Michael Eddington, the Defiant was disabled by a cascade virus that Eddington had installed in the ship’s computers during his time as DS9’s Starfleet security chief. The vessel had to be towed back to DS9 by the USS Malinche. When that vessel was later disabled by the Maquis, Captain Sisko used the damaged Defiant to continue pursuing Eddington. After Sisko poisoned a Maquis planet, Eddington surrendered to Sisko and was incarcerated. (DS9: “For the Uniform“)

In 2373, the Defiant is part of a Starfleet task force that tries to stop the Borg in the Battle of Sector 001, as told in Star Trek: First Contact. While most 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 she is shieldless and weaponless, so her 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.[1]

Ira Steven Behr on the Defiant Bridge during a Segment in a "Time Travel on Discovery Ultra Science"
Ira Steven Behr on the Defiant Bridge during a Segment in a “Time Travel on Discovery Ultra Science”

When the Dominion annexed the Cardassian Union and invaded the Alpha Quadrant, the Defiant was forced to destroy the runabout USS Yukon, which had been commandeered by a Changeling posing as Doctor Julian Bashir. The runabout was carrying a trilithium weapon which was to be detonated in the Bajoran sun, destroying the entire system. (DS9: “By Inferno’s Light“)

In late-2373, the Defiant became trapped inside a temporal distortion surrounding a planet in the Gamma Quadrant. The planet was inhabited by descendants of the Defiant crew, who revealed that the vessel would crash while attempting to escape the distortion. The Defiant crew and the planets inhabitants worked to formulate a plan that would allow the Defiant to escape back into normal space, while simultaneously creating a second ship that would crash on the planet and land 200 years in the past, thus ensuring the inhabitants survival.

However, it was discovered that the plan would fail and Yedrin Dax was setting up the original Defiant to crash. The crew eventually planned to allow this event to take place, but was stopped by the elder-Odo living on the surface, who changed the ship’s flight plan so that it would avoid the distortion that would send them back in time. The Defiant returned to DS9 and the colonists were found to have never existed. (DS9: “Children of Time“)

In an effort to stop the Dominion’s military build-up in Cardassian space, Starfleet Command opted to mine the entrance to the Bajoran wormhole, a move that was virtually guaranteed to lead to war. Despite coming under fire by Dominion forces, the Defiant was able to successfully deploy the mine field and evacuate Deep Space 9’s Starfleet personnel before the Dominion took control of the station. (DS9: “Call to Arms“)

For the next several months, the Defiant fought as part of the Second Fleet, operating out of Starbase 375. When Captain Sisko was made an adjunct to Vice Admiral William Ross, Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax was assigned to captain the vessel. Under Dax’s command, the Defiant destroyed a Dominion sensor array hidden in the Argolis Cluster. (DS9: “A Time to Stand“, “Behind the Lines“)

Defiant and Rotarran at Starbase 375
Defiant and Rotarran at Starbase 375

Sisko returned to the captain’s chair of the Defiant to lead Operation Return in mid-2374. The vessel resumed its assignment at Deep Space 9 after the station was retaken. (DS9: “Favor the Bold“, “Sacrifice of Angels“)

The Defiant was part of a search effort to look for survivors of the USS Honshu after the latter vessel was destroyed by Cardassian forces. Upon completion of that mission the ship was immediately assigned to escort a Federation troop convoy near the Badlands. (DS9: “Waltz“)

While studying a subspace compression anomaly in mid-2374, the Defiant was taken over by Jem’Hadar forces. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Defiant crew and the USS Rubicon, the vessel was retaken and the surviving Jem’Hadar were taken to a Federation prisoner of war camp. (DS9: “One Little Ship“)

The Defiant rescued survivors from its sister ship, the USS Valiant, later that year. (DS9: “Valiant“)

The Defiant, along with the IKS Rotarran, lead the Federation Alliance fleet at the First Battle of Chin’toka in late-2374. It was the crew of the Defiant that found a way to disable the Cardassian orbital weapon platforms protecting the Chin’toka system. (DS9: “Tears of the Prophets“)

Under Worf’s command, the Defiant spent the next several months on convoy duty. (DS9: “Image in the Sand“)

In early-2375, the Defiant made a supply run to AR-558, a planetoid in the Chin’toka system under heavy siege by the Jem’Hadar. The Defiant crew provided a small reinforcement of the planetoid and helped disable the houdinis that were plaguing the Federation troops stationed there. (DS9: “The Siege of AR-558“)

The Defiant later served as part of a search effort to look for survivors of the IKS Koraga, which had been destroyed by Dominion forces in the Badlands. The Defiant managed to recover six escape pods, but was forced to call off its search for the Koraga’s captain, Worf, after only three days due to heavy Jem’Hadar patrols in the area. (DS9: “Penumbra“)

Later that year, the Dominion, along with their new Breen allies, retook the Chin’toka system with the Second Battle of Chin’toka. The Defiant was among the 312 ships destroyed in the battle. (DS9: “The Changing Face of Evil“)

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-damping weapon.

4 thoughts on “DS9 Stories/News: USS Defiant – Sisko’s Tough Little Ship

      1. DJ Argus

        Rinda. The “Captain’s Quarters” are Captain Picard’s quarters on the Enterprise D, they never portrayed what Captain Sisko’s quarters looked like on the USS Defiant on the show (or if they were any different than the other crew quarters), only his office which looks nothing like Captain Janeway’s Ready Room on Voyager. Speaking of Crew Quarters, the “Senior Officer’s Quarters” supposedly on the Defiant are actually the officer’s quarters on the USS Voyager. They even have two sickbays shown, the first one (Defiant Class Sickbay) is the correct one, the second one is from Voyager.


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