Multiple realities
(covers information from several alternate timelines)

A Federation science vessel

A Romulan science vessel

In starship classification, a science vessel (aka science ship or research vessel) was a limited-role starship.

It was not well armed, but instead carried several laboratories, advanced sensors, and in some cases, advanced deflector shields. (ENT: "Bound"; TNG: "Hero Worship") Ships of this class were used for scientific research missions, such as observing the collapse of a star, mapping newly discovered planets and nebulae, or simply being an isolated location for hazardous experiments. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; TNG: "The Naked Now") Most science vessels were not designed for long term missions, and were often dispatched following discoveries made by non-science vessels. (TNG: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Where Silence Has Lease", "Relics", "Force of Nature")

In the 2260s of the alternate reality, information on Starfleet and non-Starfleet science vessels was located in the Federation database. (Star Trek Beyond)

Science vessels were mentioned in a list of vessel types and in a list of Starfleet vessel types. These appeared to the left of the personnel file for Balthazar Edison. [1]

In early-2350, the Romulan science vessel Talvath, operating under the direction of the Dr. Telek R'Mor began an extended three-year scientific mission under the direction of the Romulan Astrophysical Academy. The following year, the Talvath encountered a micro-wormhole in Sector 1385 of the Alpha Quadrant. It was here that its crew discovered the USS Voyager, which was located in the Delta Quadrant, however, twenty-years in the future. (VOY: "Eye of the Needle")

In 2364, after the USS Enterprise-D had traveled over 2,700,000 light years from Federation space with the help of Kosinski and the Traveler, Captain Jean-Luc Picard suggested that they should return and that "Starfleet can use [Kosinski's] technique to bring back a pure science vessel to do even more." (TNG: "Where No One Has Gone Before")

In 2365, Captain Picard proposed requesting a Federation science vessel to their location in the Morgana Quadrant, to better study an unknown void discovered there by the USS Enterprise-D, prior to its entrapment in the phenomenon. (TNG: "Where Silence Has Lease")

When Rabal and Serova wished to draw the attention of Starfleet and the Federation of the plight warp drive was causing their homeworld in 2370, Jean-Luc Picard suggested that, rather than their seemingly unorthodox means of getting attention, they should have made a request through the Federation Science Council. Rabal argued that the Council's resources wre limited, and that "It would have taken over a year before they dispatched a science ship to come and evaluate our work." Data later suggested that they "ask the Federation Science Council to send a research vessel to this area. A more detailed investigation would resolve many of our questions." (TNG: "Force of Nature")

Later that year, the USS Enterprise-D picked up a request for emergency assistance from a Federation science ship in the Topin system. This was a ploy devised by Ro Laren aboard a Maquis raider, to lure the Enterprise in so that she could steal a supply of medkits. (TNG: "Preemptive Strike")

Science vessels by race

Science vessels by designation



Background information

A line cut from an early draft of DS9: "Business as Usual" referred to a Vulcan science vessel, named the T'Pan, which had requested permission to dock at Deep Space 9, and was granted to put in at Docking Bay Three.

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