Ships of this class are commonly called "Runabouts", and are usually used by space stations for short-range interstellar travel. The runabout is a true multirole starship with engine efficiencies and cargo capacities proportional to larger vessels. The Danube-class project began as a vehicle study in 2363 at the Advanced Starship Design Bureau (ASDB) for a ship that could perform a variety of scientific, resupply, and personnel-transfer missions. The prototype USS Danube NX-72003, was ordered into construction at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards in 2365, and began flight trials off the surface of Mars in early 2368.

The mission directives of the Danube-class included the ability to perform rapid-response scientific expedition transporation, the ability to act as an orbital or landed temporary ops base for science missions, to move intact experiment and cargo modules from site to site, and perform emergency and tactical missions limited only by the onboard supplies of fuel, weapons, and consumables. Runabouts have typically carried no armaments beyond the six standard phaser strips mounted two forward, two on the nacelles, and two on the aft living module. They also use 13.3-centimeter microtorpedoes, as well as at least four full-sized photon or quantum torpedoes.

The continued production of the Danube-class runabout has been approved by Starfleet for the foreseeable future, even as a follow-on vehicle is undergoing initial design reviews and systems simulations at the ASDB. Spaceframe and systems tooling has been replicated and dispersed to three additional sites beyond the initial Utopia Planitia Yards, so that rapid deliveries of replacement runabouts can continue, pending Starfleet work order priorities and processed materials availability.

The Danube-class runabouts seen in Deep Space Nine are traditionally named after great rivers. The runabout was designed by Rick Sternbach and Jim Martin, and the interior cockpit set was designed by Joseph Hodges, all under the direction of Herman Zimmerman. The aft compartment was designed by Richard James. The miniature was built by Tony Meininger.

Related Links:
Designing the Runabout

USS Danube NCC-72003
   Prototype mentioned in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Technical Manual.
USS Gander NCC-
   Destroyed by the Jem'Hadar over Goralis in 2375.
   "Penumbra" - DS9.
USS Ganges NCC-72454
   One of the first runabouts assigned to Deep Space 9. The Ganges was destroyed by a T'Lani munitions cruiser in 2370.
   The Ganges was named after the river in northern India and eastern Pakistan that is 1,560 miles long from the Himalayas and Bay of    Bengal.
   "Past Prologue" - DS9. "Armageddon Game" - DS9.
USS Mekong NCC-72917
   The Mekong was destroyed in the aftermath of the disastrous Cardassian-Romulan attack on the Founders' homeworld in 2371.
   It was named after the river in southeast Asia that flows south to the China Sea.
   "Playing God" - DS9. "The Die is Cast" - DS9.
USS Orinoco NCC-72905
   Destroyed in 2372 by a Cardassian separatist group called The True Way.
   The Orinoco was named for the 1,700 mile long river in Venezuela.
   "The Siege" - DS9. "Our Man Bashir" - DS9.
USS Rio Grande NCC-72452
   One of the first runabouts assigned to DS9. Crash landed on a Class L planet but was salvaged. Used by Sisko to Bajor for a    confrontation with Dukat.
   Named after the river bordering Texas and Mexico. The only runabout to survive all seven seasons for Deep Space Nine.
   "Emissary" - DS9. "The Ascent" - DS9. "What You Leave Behind" - DS9.
USS Rubicon NCC-72936
   Assigned to DS9 in 2371. The Rubicon was forced to make an emergency landing on Bopak III after hit by a Jem'Hadar subspace    magneton pulse. The Rubicon was destroyed in the Romulan-Cardassian attack on the Dominion.
   Named after the river in Italy that was of strategic importance to Caesar in 49 BC.
   "Family Business" - DS9. "Hippocratic Oath" - DS9. "The Die is Cast" - DS9.
USS Shenendoah NCC-73024
   In 2374, Worf and Dax took the Shenendoah went on a mission to extract a Cardassian deflector from the Dominion base on Soukara.    Nog and Jake Sisko used the Shenendoah to deliver a diplomatic message to Grand Nagus Zek. The Shenendoah was saved by the    USS Valiant NCC-74210 while being attacked by Jem'Hadar fighters.
   "Change of Heart" - DS9. "Valiant" - DS9.
USS Volga NCC-73196
   In 2372, Kira, Bashir and Keiko O'Brien used the Volga in a three day botanical survey of Torad IV. The Volga was to have been used in    a massive response to an anticipated Dominion invasion in 2373.
   The Volga is the longest river in Europe. It flows over 1,900 miles from its source in the Valdai Hills, northwest of Moscow. It empties    into the Caspian Sea below Astrakhan.
   "Body Parts" - DS9. "By Inferno's Light" - DS9.
USS Yangtzee Kiang NCC-72453
   One of DS9's first runabouts, it was destroyed in a crash on a penal-colony moon in the Gamma Quadrant. Kai Opaka was killed in    the crash, but was revived by the atmosphere, though could not leave the moon.
   The Yangtzee Kiang was named after a China river.
   "Emissary" - DS9. "Past Prologue" - DS9. "Battle Lines" - DS9.
USS Yukon NCC-74602
   Used by Kira and O'Brien in 2372 for an inspection of Bajoran colonies along the Cardassian border. The Yukon was destroyed by the    USS Defiant NX-74205 in 2373 when a Founder hijacked it to destroy the Bajoran sun with a trilithium explosive.
   Named after the river in Northwest Canada and central Alaska flowing 1,979 miles to the Bering Sea.
   "Sons of Mogh" - DS9. "By Inferno's Light" - DS9.
Name Unknown NCC-73918
   Used by Kira, Garak, and Damar in their mission to secure the Breen energy dissipating weapon.
   "Tacking into the Wind" - DS9.

Type: Runabout
Length: 23m
Beam: 87m
Mass: 158 tonnes
Speed: 5
Armament: Six Type 10 phaser arrays