Construction and launch
On stardate 9715.5, in the year 2293, the Enterprise-B was commissioned. Soon thereafter, the starship was launched under the command of Captain John Harriman from a drydock orbiting Earth. The ship was christened with a bottle of Dom Pérignon, vintage 2265. Honored guests aboard for the ship's maiden voyage included Captains James T. Kirk and Montgomery Scott and Commander Pavel Chekov, all of the decommissioned USS Enterprise-A crew, along with many Federation News Service journalists. The vessel was still incomplete at the time of launch and did not have a medical staff, photon torpedoes, or a tractor beam, all of which were scheduled for delivery the following Tuesday. The dignitaries were given a tour of the ship, which impressed even Scott (a noted critic of the Excelsior-class). Harriman requested that Captain Kirk give the order to get underway, and he accepted. Demora Sulu – a recent Academy graduate – served as helmsman, prompting Kirk to comment "It wouldn't be the Enterprise without a Sulu at the helm."
Her first journey was mostly for publicity purposes, and the ship was not scheduled to venture much past Pluto. However, the Enterprise-B was the only ship in range capable of responding to a distress call from two Federation transport ships, the SS Lakul and the SS Robert Fox. The ships, which were carrying El-Aurian refugees, had become trapped in an energy distortion called the Nexus. Because the Enterprise lacked equipment necessary to rescue the ships, the Robert Fox was destroyed before the Enterprise could transport its passengers. Only 47 survivors were brought aboard from the Lakul before it, too, was destroyed. Chekov served as a makeshift medical officer, enlisting several of the journalists to help treat survivors including Guinan, future bartender on the USS Enterprise-D, and Tolian Soran.
The Enterprise itself became ensnared within the Nexus when she maneuvered within transporter range of the Lakul. Scott devised a plan to use a resonance burst from the deflector dish in order to simulate an antimatter explosion and free the Enterprise. Kirk went to deflector control to make necessary modifications as the Enterprise's engineering hull was struck by an energy tendril; Harriman was going to do it himself, but Kirk took the role instead, deciding that Harriman, as the ship's captain, was needed on the bridge, and in the captain's chair. The Enterprise escaped with minor casualties and a hull breach along Sections 20 through 28 on Decks 13 through 15. Kirk was believed killed in the breach, and the mission became notorious because of his loss. (Star Trek Generations)
A sculpture of the Enterprise-B later adorned the wall of the observation lounge on the Enterprise-D during the first few years of that vessel's service. (Star Trek: The Next Generation). A similar model hung in the conference room of the USS Enterprise-E, along with the other incarnations of the ship in a glass and wood casing. (Star Trek: First Contact; Star Trek Nemesis)
See also: USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-B) personnel
In Star Trek Generations, the exterior of the Enterprise-B was a reuse of the USS Excelsior studio model designed by Bill George for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The miniature was given several modifications designed by John Eaves and Herman Zimmerman, including an extra set of impulse engines on the saucer section, flares on the side of the engineering hull, new caps on the front of the warp nacelles, and fins on the back of the nacelles. The blue accents on the ship were repainted to a teal color. The flares were added for the specific purpose of damaging them during the Nexus escape sequence and as a way to keep the Excelsior model beneath undamaged. The modifications were also by request of Producer Rick Berman, who felt the Excelsior design had been overused in the previous motion pictures and in the television series. The NCC-1701-B was also rendered as a CGI model for certain sequences within the Nexus. As it turned out, the glue used to attach the additional parts did in fact damage the original model, so the modifications were never removed. The physical model was later relabeled to become the USS Lakota in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fourth season episode "Paradise Lost". (citation needed • edit)
The bridge was a redress of the USS Enterprise-A bridge from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, which was also seen as the Amargosa observatory in Star Trek Generations. The sickbay was the drydock observation area seen earlier in the film, while deflector control was a new set. (citation needed • edit)
The Enterprise-B was established as an Excelsior-class ship during the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, when a series of relief sculptures depicting the history of the Enterprise name was added to the Enterprise-D conference lounge set. They were present for the first four years of the series and a flashback during TNG: "All Good Things...". The sculpture used represented the original Excelsior design. However, models in the lounge of the Enterprise-E in Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek Nemesis more accurately showed the Enterprise-B as it is depicted in Generations. Furthermore, the Enterprise-C sculpture also differed from the final Ambassador-class design, meaning the sculptures were probably meant to be abstract.
The model of the Enterprise-B (Lot #998) was sold at the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction on October 7, 2006 for US$132,000 including the buyer's premium (the winning bid was US$110,000). The model is now part of ScienceFictionArchives.com collections. 
According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, the Enterprise-B was involved in exploration beyond the Gourami sector, charting 142 star systems and making first contact with seventeen new civilizations prior to her decommissioning.
The USS Enterprise-D cut-away poster listed a Captain "Thomas Johnson Jr. (β)" for the Enterprise-B. The USS Enterprise Owners' Workshop Manual established that "Thomas Johnson, Jr." was the ship's final captain serving from the early 2320s through the ship's loss in 2329. This source also claims that a new captain, William George (β) – a nod to ILM visual effects staffer Bill George – was assigned alongside several other officers, but this is not referenced in any other source.
In the first issue of the IDW Publishing comic Star Trek: Spock: Reflections, Spock visited the Enterprise-B a year after its launch where Harriman showed him a memorial plaque dedicated to Kirk he had installed on the ship after it left spacedock for repairs in the section of the ship where Kirk was at the time believed to be killed. Although Harriman knew it wasn't regulation, he felt it was the right thing to do.
The Enterprise-B was involved in:
- The novel The Captain's Daughter by Peter David
- The PC-based simulation Star Trek: Starship Creator
- The Lost Era novels Serpents Among the Ruins and One Constant Star by David R. George III
- The short story "Iron and Sacrifice", from the Tales from the Captain's Table anthology, also by David George
- which provides the following timeline:
- 2301 – Demora Sulu was promoted to first officer.
- 2311 – Following the Tomed Incident with the Romulan Star Empire, Captain Harriman steps down, and Demora Sulu was promoted to captain.
- 2315 – Captain Sulu gives up command – for one year – to care for her terminally-ill paternal grandmother, Shimizu Hana Sulu (β).
- 2320s – The ship, under Captain Johnson, was assigned to patrol the Cardassian border.
- 2328 – Offers assistance to many Bajorans fleeing Cardassia's annexation of Bajor.
- 2329 – Lost (presumed destroyed) after the crew reports contracting an unknown infection.
- 2332 – The USS Enterprise-C is commissioned. (Well of Souls)
- which provides the following timeline: