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The Cygnus subclass was a class of Federation starship in operation during the 23rd century, the third batch of Hermes class starships built. Unlike its Hermes and Monoceros class predecessors, the Cygnus was specially outfitted to serve as a diplomatic and command courier
Like the Hermes, the Cygnus consisted of a saucer section and nacelle, each similar in exterior design to that of a Constitution-class vessel of the 2260s. Its configuration was significantly different, however, employing only a single nacelle.
In the late 23rd century, like the Constitution class, these old workhorses received major overhauls in hull and warp designs.
According to the Star Fleet Technical Manual, the Cygnus was designed to serve in a diplomatic/command courier role.
The class may have been named for the constellation Cygnus, as all the ships of that class appear to be named for constellations representing birds (with the exception of Columbia, which may be a misspelling of the constellation Columba--the dove).