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"If you think you're safe at warp, you're wrong."
The USS Vengeance was an unmarked Federation Dreadnought-class starship under the command of Admiral Alexander Marcus and in the service of Section 31 in 2259. It was constructed and launched from the Io Facility, a spacedock in orbit of the Jovian moon Io. This was the first Federation starship launched following the destruction of Vulcan.
- See also: Battle of Luna
The Vengeance was designed by Khan Noonien Singh for the purpose of preparing the Federation for war against the Klingon Empire and its other rivals and was built at a secret spacedock near Jupiter. After surrendering to Captain James T. Kirk on Qo'noS, Khan provided the coordinates for the Vengeance's location which Kirk then sent to Montgomery Scott to investigate. Soon afterwards, Scott was seen piloting a shuttlecraft into the spacedock where the Vengeance was moored.
Following the arrival of Kirk and Khan aboard the USS Enterprise, the Vengeance appeared in Klingon space and confronted the ship. Admiral Marcus, in command of the Vengeance, demanded that Kirk hand Khan over to him. Instead, Kirk ordered the Enterprise to warp to Earth so that Khan could stand trial as a war criminal, which would also expose the admiral's secret alliance with Khan. The Vengeance caught up to the Enterprise while at warp and fired upon it, severely disabling it near Luna. Scott, who had stowed away aboard the ship, temporarily deactivated the Vengeance's weaponry, just as Marcus prepared to finish off the Enterprise.
Kirk and Khan donned thruster suits and flew over to attempt to commandeer the Vengeance. Following their arrival on the bridge, Khan killed Admiral Marcus and seized command of the ship, taking Kirk and his crew hostage. Acting captain Spock allowed Khan to transport the seventy-two advanced long-range torpedoes apparently containing Khan's fellow Augments to the Vengeance, in a negotiated exchange for the Enterprise's safety and the safe return of Kirk, Scott, and Carol Marcus. Khan returned the three hostages to the Enterprise but resumed firing on the ship as soon as they were transported aboard. Spock had anticipated Khan's betrayal and, having ordered McCoy to remove the cryotubes from the torpedoes, caused the torpedoes to detonate within the Vengeance's cargo bay. This crippled the ship and further enraged Khan.
The Vengeance was caught in Earth's gravitational pull when Khan, believing his fellow Augments to be dead, directed the ship to crash into San Francisco as a massive act of retribution against his former Starfleet masters, narrowly missing an atmospheric impact with the Enterprise en route. The enormous ship cut through the city and obliterated landmarks such as the Alcatraz Penitentiary. Nearly a year later, Starfleet held a memorial service for the lives lost due to Khan's violent acts, including those killed when the Vengeance crashed. At this memorial, Kirk spoke out against what the ship represented and reminded the assembled audience that Starfleet had risked becoming as warlike as its enemies. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
See also: Unnamed USS Vengeance personnel
- Main article: Dreadnought-class
The Vengeance was specifically designed to be a combat vessel and was larger, faster, and more heavily armed with advanced weaponry than the Enterprise. According to Khan, it was twice the Enterprise's size and had three times its speed. The Vengeance had been built to allow for a minimal crew and was largely automated. It was designed to be controlled by a single person if necessary. Its advanced phasers could be fired while the ship was at warp. The ship was equipped with technologically-advanced features including better shielding, more advanced transporters, and enhanced warp capabilities. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
The weapons systems of the Vengeance included an array of powerful advanced phasers and two massive swivel-mounted torpedo launchers that could be deployed from beneath the saucer section. The ship could also launch drones which were in turn capable of launching several photon torpedoes before reaching their target. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
After the design of the USS Vengeance was conceptualized, the writers of Star Trek Into Darkness conceived how the ship would be used, imagining Admiral Marcus' devious plan. (Cinefex, No. 134, p. 75)
Devising the ways in which the vessel would be illuminated was a task given to Industrial Light & Magic. "The tricky thing about the black ship was, of course, lighting it against the background of space," noted ILM Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Roger Guyett. ILM's look development team created turntable studies of the Vengeance, experimenting with lighting effects which enabled the mostly black object to be sufficiently viewable against the interstellar darkness. As well as using rim-lighting and specular values to highlight surface details on the ship's hull, the vessel was shown illuminated by subtle backlit effects generated from nearby luminous gas clouds. (Cinefex, No. 134, pp. 75 & 84)
The Artisan prop and model shop of Quantum Mechanix, QMx FX Cinema Arts, was asked to illustrate the history of space flight with models for the film. They constructed fourteen models in total.  Roberto Orci opined that having a desktop model of the Vengeance in the film was a mistake and would not have happened if he had been on set that day. He suggested "that one could argue that a pre-existing design was recommissioned and altered to be a weapon of war," potentially justifying it. 
According to apocryphal sources, two 23rd century starships in the prime universe have also been named USS Vengeance. The first was a Miranda-class USS Vengeance at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works, mentioned in the 1983 FASA sourcebook Federation Ship Recognition Manual (p.13). The second was a refit Constitution-class USS Vengeance at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works, one of several Federation starships defending the Sol system in the 2000 video game Star Trek: Klingon Academy.