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In 2374, the Cortez was a participant in Operation Return. During the journey, the Cortez developed a problem with their port nacelle guidance thruster and had to pull out of formation to make repairs. (DS9 episode: "Favor the Bold", DS9 novelization: ...Sacrifice of Angels)
The Cortez later participated in the battle and sent a message to the USS Defiant, informing Benjamin Sisko that the Dominion forces were retreating. Captain Sisko had Julian Bashir instruct the Cortez and the other ships to proceed to Deep Space 9. (DS9 episode: "Sacrifice of Angels")
Later that year, while patrolling the Cardassian-Federation border, a squadron of Jem'Hadar attack fighters engaged the Cortez. Before her destruction, she emitted a distress call. The Defiant responded to the call, and initiated an unsuccessful search-and-recovery mission for survivors. (DS9 episode: "Far Beyond the Stars")