USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-B) was a refitted Federation Excelsior-class starship that was in service with Starfleet in the late 23rd century. She was the third Federation starship to be commissioned to bear the name Enterprise.
On stardate 9715.5, in the year 2293, the Enterprise-B was launched under the command of Captain John Harriman from a drydock orbiting Earth. The ship was christened with a bottle of Dom Perignon, vintage 2265. Honored guests aboard for the ship's maiden voyage included Captain James T. Kirk, Captain Montgomery Scott, and Comm-
ander Pavel Chekov of the decommissioned Enterprise-A. 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 Scotty (himself, a noted critic of the Excelsior-class). 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-B lacked equipment necessary to rescue the ships, the Robert Fox was destroyed before the Enterprise could transport its passengers. Only 47 were brought aboard from the Lakul before it, too, was destroyed.
James Kirk was believed killed due to a hull breach that occurred on Deck 15 after Kirk manually modified the Enterprise's deflector array to enable her escape. The maiden voyage turned rescue mission thus became notorious due to Captain Kirk's heroic sacrifice.
The Excelsior-class was a type of Federation starship used by Starfleet from the late 23rd century through the late 24th century. It was the backbone of Starfleet for nearly a century, making it one of the longest serving starship designs, and one of the most recognizable ships in the fleet.
The Excelsior-class was initially constructed during the early 2280s at Starfleet's San Francisco Fleet Yards orbiting Earth.
Starfleet had high hopes for the first ship of this class, the prototype USS Excelsior, which was equipped with transwarp drive, and was regarded as that century's "Great Experiment."
Despite the failure of the "Great Experiment," Starfleet forged ahead with employing the Excelsior design. After remaining in the Earth Spacedock until at least 2287, the prototype Excelsior was subsequently recommissioned for active service by 2290.
In 2293, the fate of the Excelsior design was sealed when Starfleet passed on the name of a legacy. The launch of the USS Enterprise-B opened the door for the Excelsior-class to become one of the most widely used designs in all of Starfleet, a design lasting well into the late 24th century.
Once fully integrated into the fleet, the Excelsior's sister ships were used for a variety of mission profiles, ranging from deep space exploration and terraforming missions, to patrol duty, to courier and transport runs. The Excelsior-class was also frequently used by the Starfleet flag officers for use as a personal flagship.
The Excelsior-class was present in several major Federation engage-
ments, including the Borg invasion of 2366-2367, where it parti-
cipated at the Battle of Wolf 359, as well as the engagement against the Borg sphere that entered the Sol system in 2378. They were also present in numerous Dominion War battles, seeing action during Operation Return, the First and Second Battles of Chin'toka, and the Battle of Cardassia.