An articulating surgical instrument which has an articulation transmission assembly for remotely articulating an end effector of the instrument is disclosed. The articulation transmission assembly includes a detent housing mounted on the instrument with a plurality of detent teeth. A compressible deck with a plurality of ratchet deck teeth is matingly coupled with the teeth of the detent housing when the assembly is in a first locked position. An actuator is fitted on the detent housing for applying a rotational force on the deck. A drive member is in communication with the deck for translating rotational movement of the deck into axial movement of an elongated transmission member which is attached to the drive member. When a rotational force is applied to the actuator, the deck compresses to decouple the teeth of the deck from the teeth in the detent housing. The decoupling of the teeth reduces the rotational force necessary to rotate the deck and consequently the drive member which moves the elongated transmission member axially to effect articulation. Consequently, the ratcheting rotation of the deck from the first locked position to a second locked position, and therefore the articulation of the end effector from a first position to a second position angled from the first position, is significantly facilitated.