Starfleet's known for it's massive starships that can house hundreds, or even thousands of crewmembers for years at a time, but there are countless smaller support vessels needed to keep the fleet running. Some are used routinely, while others only popped up once or twice, but they all have their own unique purposes, and help to make Star Trek feel more alive and realistic.
These auxiliary crafts carry out lots of different jobs, including maintenance, construction, transport, luxury sightseeing, combat, and much more.
In this list, we're going to explain the roles of all of the auxiliary support ships used throughout Star Trek. By the end, you'll realise that the fleet is made up of far more than just starships and space stations. The Enterprise (and other ships like it) are the motherships of their own small armadas.
Shuttles were the standard auxiliary craft aboard Starfleet ships and space stations. Most had warp nacelles for faster than light travel, and some were even equipped with replicators and transporters. They were used to transport officers to missions away from the mothership, and to land on planets in cases where transporters were not available.
We've seen countless shuttle variants throughout Trek, starting with the classic Class F shuttlecrafts from The Original Series. In the Animated Series, we were introduced to the Copernicus, the unnamed shuttle from Mudd's Passion, and the aqua-shuttle (which was a shuttle capable of floating on water like a boat and submerging under like a submarine).
Updated shuttles appeared in the TOS films, along with smaller vessels known as travel pods and shuttlepods (though, other shuttlepods were in use as early as the 22nd century, aboard the NX-01). In The Next Generation, the Enterprise-D housed several classes all at once, including the Type 6, and Type 7 shuttles, and Type 15 shuttlepods. Somehow, despite it's much smaller hanger, Voyager was shown to have a nearly endless supply of shuttles. The ship was confirmed to hold Type 6 and Type 8 shuttles, and the sleeker, more elongated Class 2.
Later, in the Next Generation films, we got even more variants like the Type 11 and the winged Argo (equipped with it's deployable ground vehicle), as well as several new designs from Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, and the films in the alternate timeline. The Protostar also had it's own shuttle variant that could be produced by the ship's vehicle replicator.
It's likely that all of these shuttle variants have their own pros and cons, but all follow the same basic design rules set by the original Class F.