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The USS Rio Grande (NCC-72452) was a 24th century Federation Danube-class runabout operated by Starfleet. This ship was assigned to Deep Space 9. The Rio Grande was one of the three runabouts offloaded at DS9 by the USS Enterprise-D.

The Rio Grande was the first vessel to discover the Bajoran wormhole in 2369, and was the only Starfleet runabout to remain operational at Deep Space 9 for the following years.

Service history

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The Rio Grande departs Deep Space 9 for the first time

The Rio Grande was the runabout piloted by Commander Benjamin Sisko and Lieutenant Jadzia Dax on the mission that first discovered the Bajoran wormhole in 2369. (DS9: "Emissary")

Major Kira Nerys and Doctor Julian Bashir piloted the Rio Grande back to Deep Space 9 when they received a priority one distress signal from the Kobliad transport Reyab. Later the Rio Grande was used to transport Doctor Bashir, under the control of the criminal Rao Vantika and hired Bajaron mercenaries, to steal a shipment of duridium from the freighter Norkova. (DS9: "The Passenger")

Several months later, Sisko and Dax took the Rio Grande to Rakhar. (DS9: "Vortex")

After the USS Yangtzee Kiang crash landed on a moon in the Gamma Quadrant, the Rio Grande was deployed to rescue Sisko, Bashir, Kai Opaka, and Major Kira, who were on board the Yangtzee Kiang. (DS9: "Battle Lines")


The Rio Grande was used to evacuate civilians from DS9 prior to the arrival of Bajoran militia forces acting on orders from Minister Jaro Essa, working for the Alliance for Global Unity. Quark had intended to be on board with his brother Rom, but Rom took a dabo girl in Quark's place. (DS9: "The Siege")

The Rio Grande was used to pursue the hijacked USS Orinoco containing Quark, Lieutenant Dax, and Ensign Melora Pazlar. For this mission, the Rio Grande was equipped with a roll bar module. The roll bar was removed for all future missions. (DS9: "Melora")

On stardate 47573.1, Commander Sisko and Chief Miles O'Brien explored systems near the Bajor sector aboard the Rio Grande in search of planets suitable for colonization. Upon discovering a class M planet in the Orellius system, they transported down to the planet's surface. The Rio Grande remained in orbit until it was hijacked by Alixus, who attempted to destroy the runabout by setting its course into the system's sun, Orellius Minor. Her attempt failed, and the ship was deflected across Sector 401, unpiloted, until it was reported to Starfleet by the Romulan vessel Gasko.

The Rio Grande tows the Orinoco (2370)

Major Kira and Lieutenant Dax pursued the Rio Grande aboard the Orinoco. When the Orinoco caught up with the Rio Grande, Dax, inspired by an old Hopi rope trick, used the Orinoco's tractor beam to force the Rio Grande out of warp. They then transported over to the Rio Grande to determine the origin of the runabout's course, later taking the Orinoco in tow as they returned to Orellius. (DS9: "Paradise")

Along with the USS Mekong and the Orinoco, the Rio Grande was used to stop the Maquis from attacking Bryma, a Cardassian colony in the Demilitarized Zone. (DS9: "The Maquis, Part II")

Doctor Bashir and Major Kira used the Rio Grande to travel to the New Bajor colony in the Gamma Quadrant so they could help set up the colony's hospital. While en route back to Deep Space 9, the Rio Grande became the third Federation vessel to enter the mirror universe, the after the Crossfield-class USS Discovery and the Constitution-class USS Defiant. (DS9: "Crossover"; DIS: "Despite Yourself"; ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

Later that year, Sisko took his son Jake, along with Quark and Nog into the Gamma Quadrant aboard the Rio Grande. It was the first time Jake and Nog had been there. However, the trip took a fateful turn as Sisko and Quark were captured by the Jem'Hadar, the soldiers of the Dominion. (DS9: "The Jem'Hadar")


In 2371, Constable Odo used the Rio Grande in an attempt to follow a ship piloted by a Flaxian suspected of attempting to kill Elim Garak. The Flaxian ship exploded before it could leave Deep Space 9, cutting the Rio Grande's mission short. (DS9: "Improbable Cause")


In 2372, Major Kira and Legate Dukat used the Rio Grande to search for the Ravinok. (DS9: "Indiscretion")

Later that year, Lieutenant commanders Worf and Dax, along with Klingon Dahar master Kor, took the Rio Grande into the Gamma Quadrant to find the long-lost Sword of Kahless, which was located at a former Hur'q planet. (DS9: "The Sword of Kahless")

Later that year, Kira, Dax, and Bashir took the ship into the Gamma Quadrant, where it visited the Teplan homeworld. (DS9: "The Quickening")


Damaged by the Klingons

In early 2373, the Rio Grande was attacked by Klingons while Sisko, Dax, and O'Brien were returning to Deep Space 9 from Starfleet Command. (DS9: "Apocalypse Rising")

Crashed on an unnamed class L planet

At some point after that, Odo used the Rio Grande to transport Quark to a Federation grand jury on Inferna Prime as part of a ruse to determine which criminal organization Quark had ties to, which later proved to be the Orion Syndicate. The Syndicate planted a bomb on the Rio Grande, intending to destroy it en route. Odo was able to mitigate the damage from the bomb by beaming it out and channeling the explosion through the transporter buffer, though the runabout still took heavy damage and was forced to crash land on an unnamed class L planet. Odo and Quark were later rescued by the USS Defiant, and the Rio Grande was salvaged. (DS9: "The Ascent")

Later that year, the Rio Grande was used in the defense of the station against a newly arrived Dominion fleet. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light")


Rio Grande departing DS9

In alternate 2374, the Rio Grande departed DS9 after the situation with the Klingons came to a head, and the Federation turned over control of the station to the Klingon Empire. As it departed for it flew over two Bajoran transports while transporting Jake Sisko to Earth. (DS9: "The Visitor")

The Rio Grande, along with the USS Shenandoah and USS Rubicon, evacuated Deep Space 9 at the time of the Reckoning aboard the station in late 2374. (DS9: "The Reckoning")

Captain Sisko and Jake took the Rio Grande back to Earth in late-2374 shortly after the death of Jadzia Dax. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets", "Shadows and Symbols")


In 2375, Benjamin, Jake, and Joseph Sisko, along with Ezri Dax, used the Rio Grande to travel to Tyree so Benjamin could locate the Orb of the Emissary. (DS9: "Shadows and Symbols")

The Rio Grande was visually identified in this episode. In dialogue cut from the final draft of the script, it was revealed that this was originally intended to be the USS Nile.

In orbit of Sappora VII (and later small barren moon)

Later that year, the Rio Grande was used by Lieutenant Ezri Dax to travel to Sappora VII. Before arriving at Sappora VII, this ship gave transport to other passengers. (DS9: "Prodigal Daughter")

Though not identified in dialogue, recycled footage of this runabout's planetary approach, both in a previous ("Battle Lines") and in its following appearance, identified this runabout as the Rio Grande.

The Rio Grande pursued by the Jem'Hadar

Later that year, Odo took the Rio Grande into Cardassian space to meet with an ex-informant whom he believed to be dead. He had been duped by the "defective" clone Weyoun 6, and took him back to Federation space. When Legate Damar and the successive clone Weyoun 7 learned of their whereabouts they sent a fleet of Jem'Hadar attack ships to stop them. Odo diverted the Rio Grande into an ice field to avoid the attacking ships. (DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River")

Shortly after the Dominion War, Captain Sisko took the Rio Grande to Bajor, and left her behind, for his final confrontation with Dukat and the Pah-wraiths. She was later recovered, presumably by Bajoran forces. (DS9: "What You Leave Behind")



Background information

As noted in "Family Business", all of the runabouts assigned to Deep Space 9 were named after Earth rivers. The Rio Grande is a river in North America, part of which serves as a natural border between the United States and Mexico.

The computer voice of the Rio Grande was provided by Majel Barrett.

The Rio Grande was the only one of the original three runabouts (Rio Grande, Ganges, and Yangtzee Kiang) assigned to the station to remain intact throughout the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine seven-year run. It did crash in "The Ascent", but it was apparently salvaged.

In "Treachery, Faith and the Great River", the Rio Grande (whose name, translated to English as "Great River", is part of the title of the episode), was inadvertently given the registry of the USS Shenandoah, rather than its own previously-established registry number.

The Rio Grande was shown with phaser banks on the upper forward section of the nacelle in some episodes and without the phasers in other episodes.

Starting with series premier "Emissary", the script pronunciation guide used the standard English pronunciation: "REE-oh GRAND." [1] In "The Siege", Quark used the Spanish pronunciation: "REE-oh GRAHN-day," though no pronunciation was provided in the script. [2]

The Micro Machines runabout model was marked as the Rio Grande, as was the AMT/Ertl model kit (on the packaging, at least, as the builder could name the model Rio Grande, Ganges, or Yangtzee Kiang) and the Furuta kit.


The Rio Grande was still in service in the year 2385, at the time of the Star Trek: The Fall novel A Ceremony of Losses.

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