In 2373, the Malinche was commanded by Captain Sanders, and assigned to patrol the Demilitarized Zone near the Gamma-7 outpost. The Malinche was one of the starships equipped with a holo-communicator, testing it when Captain Benjamin Sisko had to contact Sanders for assistance in dealing with the Maquis. The Malinche helped to intercept a Maquis raider commanded by Starfleet traitor Michael Eddington with the USS Defiant; unfortunately, Eddington managed to escape after disabling the Defiant with a planted cascade virus. Due to this, the Malinche towed the Defiant back to Deep Space 9.
Following the incident, Captain Sanders was given the duty of apprehending Eddington at Veloz Prime, despite great odds that they wouldn't reach the planet in time. However, Sanders would have no more luck at the task than Benjamin Sisko did. When the Malinche responded to a distress signal from a Cardassian freighter, it was discovered that the freighter was actually a booby trap left by the Maquis; a focused particle beam punched through the starship's gyro-shielding, and three Maquis raiders then attacked and disabled the ship, damaging the Malinche's navigational systems and warp core matrix compositor.
The barely-functional Defiant responded to the Malinche's distress call, and provided material assistance for repairs before continuing the search for Eddington. However, it was due to the Maquis disabling the Malinche that allowed Sisko to end the mass-genocide of the Cardassians from the Maquis and to bring Eddington to justice. (DS9: "For the Uniform")
|USS Berlin • USS Cairo • USS Charleston • USS Crazy Horse • USS Enterprise-B • USS Excelsior • USS Farragut • USS Fearless • USS Fredrickson • USS Gorkon • USS Hood • USS Lakota • USS Malinche • USS Melbourne • USS Potemkin • USS Repulse • USS Valley Forge • Unnamed|
According to Ronald D. Moore, this ship was named for La Malinche, "Cortez's Indian lover, a brilliant woman who had a gift for languages." (AOL chat, 1997) The Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 2, p. 14) described La Malinche as a "16th century Mexican princess who was originally a slave given as a peace offering to the Spanish conquistadors by the Tabascan Indians."
Robert Hewitt Wolfe once commented "When Hans [Beimler] was doing a polish on the DS9 episode 'For the Uniform', he named a ship the USS Malinche. In my gringo ignorance, I thought Malinche was a made-up word. Faux Vulcan maybe." 
The studio model was likely a reuse of the smaller USS Excelsior model built for VOY: "Flashback", as the larger original Excelsior had been permanently converted into the USS Enterprise-B by this point.