The USS Cortez was a 24th century Federation starship operated by Starfleet. In 2374, the Cortez and her crew of approximately four hundred was under the command of Captain Quentin Swofford, a friend of Benjamin Sisko. The Cortez fought in the Dominion War.
In that year, the Cortez was part of the assault force assembled to retake Deep Space 9 in Operation Return. Prior to the battle, they were ordered to fall back for repairs, after signaling the USS Defiant that they were having problems stabilizing their guidance thrusters on their port nacelle. Because of this, her position was filled by the USS Sarek. (DS9: "Favor the Bold") The Cortez eventually joined the battle and was one of the first ships to break through the Dominion fleet, and reported that the fleet was in retreat. It was later ordered to rendezvous with the rest of the Federation fleet at DS9. (DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels")
Later that year, the Cortez was reported missing while patrolling the Cardassian border, presumed to have been destroyed by a squadron of Jem'Hadar fighters. After the report of her loss, the Defiant searched the area for survivors for almost six hours. The ship was declared lost with all hands, with over four hundred dead. (DS9: "Far Beyond the Stars")