Construction of the prototype vessel began in the 2360s at Utopia Planitia and was commissioned in 2370.
Fifteen decks and 257 compartments housed a normal crew of 150, with plenty of room for 50 mission specialists. There was additional space for 65 passengers, and 3,550 was its max capacity.
Warp 9.975 could be maintained for 12 hours, though the ships normally cruised at 6.2. Enough parts were kept on board to build a second warp core on short notice.
While classified as a light cruiser, it was the heaviest armed of any to bear that designation. The vessels could hold their own against most threat organizations' larger ships. Eleven type X phaser arrays, as well a pair of high yield photon torpedo launchers both fore and aft, each capable of four torpedo spread.
In addition to normally carrying seventeen shuttlecraft in its two shuttlebays, it also boasted a non-warp capable aeroshuttle. The second shuttlebay doubled as a repair and construction facility.
In 2378 the USS Voyager returned to Federation space, along with massive modifications made to the ship while it was in the Delta Quadrant for seven years. The Starfleet Corps of Engineers and Research and Development Departments went of the vessel looking for new upgrades to implement class-wide.
By 2409 a subclass based on the USS Bellepheron were in service.
The Pathfinder class of science vessels were the Intrepid's direct descendants.