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"You know, the rate we go through runabouts, it's a good thing the Earth has so many rivers."

The Danube-class, also known as a Runabout-class, was a type of Federation runabout in operation during the latter half of the 24th century. All runabouts assigned to Deep Space 9 were named after rivers on Earth. (DS9: "Family Business")

History Edit

The Danube-class was first commissioned by Starfleet in 2368 for use as a light multipurpose craft in situations that demanded a vessel more capable than a standard shuttlecraft, but lower profile than a full-sized starship. With this flexibility, a runabout could be utilized as a long-range personnel and cargo transport, an agile mobile defense platform, or a high-speed reconnaissance vehicle. (DS9: "Paradise")

The following year, the space station Deep Space 9 took on three runabouts for use in their daily operations: the USS Ganges, the USS Yangtzee Kiang, and the USS Rio Grande. They were housed within landing bays situated around the habitat ring. (DS9: "Emissary")

On occasion, Starfleet Academy cadets were allowed to command runabouts during training missions. (DS9: "Valiant")

In 2371 of an alternate timeline, the Yellowstone-class was an upgrade to the Danube-class. (VOY: "Non Sequitur")

Use at Deep Space 9 Edit


Three Danube-class runabouts assigned to DS9

In the first two years of the space station's use by Starfleet, the runabout remained the primary method of transport and defense support.

The runabouts were instrumental in discovering many new worlds and civilizations within the Gamma Quadrant, as well as the Bajoran wormhole itself. The runabouts were also utilized in fighting off Maquis raiders. (DS9: "The Maquis, Part II", "The Jem'Hadar")

Although typically customary for both seats to be turned on so that a second individual may pilot the craft in the event of an emergency, Commander Sisko intentionally did not illuminate the ship's controls at the other pilot's station where Gul Dukat was seated during a joint mission to the Volan colonies in the Demilitarized Zone in 2370. Dukat assured Sisko that he would not "steal [his] little technical secrets." It was later revealed that despite Starfleet's best efforts, the Cardassian Central Command already possessed knowledge on the operations of this class vessel, as Dukat later stated that he "knew all about these controls before I ever came on board" and pointing out to Sisko the correct location of the photon launcher control. Dukat later noted that Cardassian pursuit vessels were "years ahead" of the runabout design. (DS9: "The Maquis, Part I")

The runabouts were used in exercises with the Ninth Fleet in 2374. (DS9: "Change of Heart")

Even after DS9 took delivery of the USS Defiant in 2371, the runabout was still widely used. Just before the beginning of the Dominion War, Elim Garak and Worf used a runabout to stealthily rescue crew members at Internment Camp 371. (DS9: "In Purgatory's Shadow") They were also used to help defend DS9 against a Dominion fleet. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light") Colonel Kira Nerys used a runabout to covertly travel to Cardassia Prime to aid Damar's resistance movement. (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind")

Technical data Edit

USS Rio Grande tractors the Orinoco

Performing a "warp tow"

The innovative feature that made the runabout possible was its compact, high-performance warp propulsion system. Runabouts were designed to have a maximum speed of warp 5. (DS9: "Dax") Their overall width was 14 meters. (DS9: "Playing God")

The Danube-class runabouts were also equipped with an aft tractor beam emitter. This emitter could be used to tow starships at least as large as a Galor-class. (DS9: "Emissary") It was also capable of being rigged to tow at warp velocities. (DS9: "Paradise")

For defense, the runabout was armed with phasers and photon torpedoes. The torpedo launcher assembly was accessible via a hatch on the floor of the forward cabin. (DS9: "Past Prologue") In late 2370, Chief Miles O'Brien of Deep Space 9 began retrofitting the weapon systems of the runabouts USS Mekong and USS Orinoco with extra banks of photon torpedoes in preparation to the Federation's first engagement with the Dominion. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar") He also made some modifications to the phaser arrays and shield generators of the station's runabouts. (DS9: "Hippocratic Oath")

The hull of a Danube-class ship was made up of metallic composites that could interact with magnetic fields. Lost ships could be found by using a differential magnetometer to detect fluctuations in the hysteresis curve. In the case of low power, the runabout had a contingency fuel cell to provide an emergency supply of power. The vessel also had the ability to eject its antimatter pod if so needed. (DS9: "Battle Lines")

Interior configuration Edit

Danube 73918 cockpit

Typical cockpit configuration of a Danube-class runabout

Ideally, a runabout was piloted by two crewmembers, although one pilot would suffice. (DS9: "The Maquis, Part I") The pilots' consoles faced forward upon two large portholes. The cockpit had stations for up to four crewmembers. The two large portholes were equipped with retractable blast shutters. (DS9: "One Little Ship") Small square viewscreens mounted within the forward corners of the cabin were used for video communication and ship status displays. (DS9: "Vortex")

In the original configuration, a food replicator and a compact personnel transporter were located immediately behind the cockpit stations. After the class underwent a refit as hostilities arose between the Federation and the Dominion, the transporter and replicator were moved further back and a secondary tactical console was positioned in the cockpit. The transporter was capable of transporting multiple persons simultaneously. (DS9: "Vortex")

Danube class, aft section

The aft interior cabin area

The rear of the craft could be configured as a large crew cabin complete with sleeping and dining areas for extended travel. (TNG: "Timescape"; DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", "Let He Who Is Without Sin...") This area could also be used as a cargo bay. (DS9: "Tribunal") In the center of the craft, between the two wing pylons, a series of replaceable modules could be connected. These modules could be swapped to suit mission requirements. Examples of available modules included science laboratories, crew quarters, and photon or quantum torpedo bays. (DS9: "Melora")

The runabout was equipped with at least one manual escape hatch, located near the front side of the vehicle. (DS9: "Battle Lines") A small Jefferies tube was also present, immediately underneath the warp core that ran along the spine of the vessel. (DS9: "Blaze of Glory")

The craft could also contain an emergency unit for medical emergencies. (DS9: "The Passenger")

Ships commissioned Edit


Appendices Edit

Appearances Edit

Danube-class, standard design Edit

Danube-class with pod Edit

Background information Edit

Runabout Modular Design

Modular design of runabout

Although originally called "Runabout-class" by Benjamin Sisko in "Emissary," the official class designation is "Danube-class." The official name was originally mentioned in the Star Trek Encyclopedia, but was later seen in episodes as part of display graphics and reiterated in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual. The term "Danube-class" was first used in dialogue in "Hippocratic Oath".

Interestingly enough, the aft cabin sections were never seen in any of the Deep Space Nine episodes wherein they were a staple of the series, yet the aft cabin was featured prominently in "Timescape", the only TNG episode in which the runabout was seen.

Studio model Edit

The Danube-class runabout was designed by Rick Sternbach and Jim Martin, and the interior cockpit set was designed by Joseph Hodges, all under the direction of Herman Zimmerman. The aft compartment was designed by Richard James. The miniature was built by Tony Meininger.

According to Sternbach, the studio model of the Sydney-class, first seen in "Relics", was to have become the basis for DS9's runabouts, before a new design was ordered. [1]

Computer generated modelEdit

VisionArt Design & Animation created a computer generated model of the runabout.

Technical Manual Edit

The following information of specifications and defenses comes exclusively from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual:

  • Height: 5.4 meters
  • Length: 23.1 meters
  • Width: 13.7 meters
  • Crew: Up to 40 passengers
  • Phasers: 6 emitters
  • Photons: 2 launch tubes, Stock: 2 micro-photon torpedoes
  • Cruise speed: warp 2
  • Max speed: warp 5
  • Impulse: Standard units

The runabout's modular platform allowed easy configuration for a multitude of missions. Two such modules were the mission module and sensor pod. The runabout could carry four different sizes of mission modules. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual)

The Technical Manual also states that the USS Danube, registry number NX-72003, was the prototype of this class.

Apocrypha Edit

  • The Danube-class Runabout is in the game Star Trek Online, and can be customized with or without the rollbar.

External link Edit