The USS Ariel was a 23rd century Federation starship operated by Starfleet.

Classified either as a survey ship or as a science ship, the Ariel had a crew of six scientists who were described as either being a "science crew" or "scientific contact team".

In 2269, the Ariel was on a survey mission to planet Lactra VII under the command of Lieutenant Commander Tom Markel. When a three-person landing party went missing on the surface, Markel ignored Starfleet orders and beamed to the surface with his remaining crew, biologist Randi Bryce and navigator Nancy Randolph.

Six weeks later, the abandoned Ariel was found in orbit by the crew of USS Enterprise, who searched the ship and its log entries. An Enterprise landing party subsequently discovered and managed to free the crew from a Lactran zoo. (TAS: "The Eye of the Beholder")

This starship was only mentioned in dialogue.
In dialogue it was identified simply as "the Ariel," whereas, identified the ship as the SS Ariel. [1]
In the script for "The Eye of the Beholder", the Ariel was to be shown and was described, in comparison to the Enterprise, with the statement, "This is a smaller scientific-exploratory spaceship." However, the craft wasn't storyboarded to appear and doesn't actually appear in the final version of the episode.

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