“The USS Moscow and the other ships of this class were the one of the last major classes without dilithium. The immediate predecessor to the Constitution class, the Baton Rouge class exhibited the distinct separated living disc and engine modules so familiar now. Up-rated in the 2250s, these ships have only recently completed their commissioned usefulness as interstellar carriers.”
The uprating was due to delays in the Constitution program, and introduced new warp engines, impulse engines, weapons and shields. In this configuration the ships gave valuable service in the four years war.
The Mark 1 Baton Rouge class entered UFP service in 2225 and were the last major cruiser class built with non dilithium energised engines, in total an impressive 86 Mk1 ships was built over 18 years. A modification program in the 2240’s saw 40 of these ships re-equipped with new M- 1 computers, enhanced weaponry and unary shield generators to become Mk2s, a further 14 ships were built as new to compensate for delays in the Constitution programme. This modification meant that the ships remained a useful element of the fleet despite their low top speed compared to newer designs
In 2249 the availability of suitable dilithium based engines in the form of FWE-1 meant that these ships could again be modified to Mk3 standards. This refit was controversial as although speed increased from Warp 4.2 to Warp 8.7, available power dropped by more than 33%. At the outbreak of the four years war in 2253 the New New Aberdeen shipyards in the AOFW were contracted to refit existing UFP Baton Rouge class ships with these new systems due to the Yard’s recent experience with the class (it had license built ships for the AOFW). The refit they designed was based upon the Mk3, but made use of the new FWE-2 warp drive, this however required a change of main computer. The desperate need for ships meant that refits to both Mk3 and Mk4 were carried out during the war . The Mark 4 being a more capable vessel, but the refit took six months compared to three for the Mk3. Mk 3 production totalled 26 ships (12 converted Mk2s and 14 Converted Mk1s), while Mk4 production totalled 25 ships (9 converted Mk2s and 16 Converted Mk1s).
Some unmodified Mk2 ships also served throughout the war as convoy escorts, it being felt that their low speed was not an issue when escorting slow moving freighters, indeed the additional power was seen as an asset. In one famous incident, a trio of 30-year-old Baton Rouges fought off a squadron of D7As without a single ship being lost in the convoy they were escorting.
12 Mk2s survived the war, and 6 of these were later converted to Mk5 standards, along with 12 each of the Mk3 and Mk4 ships making 30 in total. Mk5 introduced photon torpedoes and phasers to the venerable design, the first ship commissioned in 2260, and it is intended that these ships will serve in some capacity until the 2280s.
21 ships of various marks have been donated to, or purchased by friendly powers. Chief amongst these is the AOFW which has acquired 10 ships over the years, and built under license an additional four ships in the shipyard at New New Aberdeen. Currently the AOFW retains 6 ships in operation, in a version corresponding to the UFP Mk5. The former USS Aberdeen is currently being refitted to a more advanced standard with FP4 torpedoes in an installation based upon that on the late USS Britannia.
A number of Baton Rouge class ships are preserved at various sites around the Federation, as well as a single vessel preserved in the AOFW, but the ships that are still in service some 60 years after the design was conceived are the most telling proof of the excellence of the design and memorial to those who have gone before.
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