A generic terminology for the small, warp-capable Federation starships used for short-range missions — actually of the Danube class, first put into service in 2367.

With seating for four people, aft-section living accommodations including bunks and food replicators, and a two-person transporter, the runabout was capable of more protracted missions than a standard Federation shuttlecraft or shuttlepod. The mid-section of the runabout was a detachable module, capable of being replaced for different types of missions. An unidentified ship of this class ferried Captain Picard, Lieutenant Commander Data, Geordi and Counselor Troi back to the Starship Enterprise to find it temporally frozen alongside a Romulan warbird on stardate 46682.4.

In 2369, the Galaxy-class U.S.S. Enterprise off-loaded three runabouts to the space station Deep Space Nine. Runabouts posted at DS9 to date: U.S.S. Ganges, U.S.S. Orinoco, U.S.S. Rio Grande, U.S.S. Yangtzee Kiang, U.S.S. Mekong, U.S.S. Volga, U.S.S. Rubicon, U.S.S. Yukon and the U.S.S. Shenandoah.