Early Federation exploration efforts were hampered by the lack of effective communication between command and distant ships, all long range communication required the user of booster buoys. By the mid-2190s, transtator based subspace transmitters were compact enough to be suitable for fitment to Starfleet vessels other than specialized communications ships. The first ships to carry the new compact transmitters were the Hyperion Class Cruisers launched in 2194. The class had initially been designed as a exploratory follow-up to the Moskva class of 2179. However, when the Mercury subspace communication and sensor system became ravailable, the Hyperion class was seen as an ideal platform. The Mercury system was mounted in a specially shielded housing on the primary hull.
The Hyperion class design’s basic structure and equipment were otherwise generally similar to the Moskva class, with eolutionary improvements to ship’s systems. The primary hull had become a flatter biconvex disc that was raised above the longitudinal axis of the secondary hull. The warp drive system comprised the FFTL-3B matter/antimatter reactor powering twin warp nacelles.
A dividend of the long-range subspace sensor was higher starship speeds, and the Hyperion was one of the first classes equipped with the new ‘B’ series warp drives. Earlier ships were limited to speeds less than warp 5 because their short-range navigational sensors gave at most a few seconds’ warning to avoid objects in their paths. The new sensors linked to the L series computers allowed Warp 5 to be reached safely for the first time since the NX class with its experimental Vulcan sensor suite.
Perhaps the most famous ship of the class was USS Triton, which had an unfortunate contact with the Klingon Empire while attempting to establish diplomatic and commercial relations. As modern diplomatic protocols had not yet been introduced, Triton’s captain, Natalia Thibodeaux, decide to beam herself and a diplomatic team into the Great Hall on Qo’onoS on October 11, 2218. Unfortunately, the Klingons had assembled in the Great Hall to celebrate their “expulsion” of the H’urq 11 centuries earlier and killed 7 members of the first-contact team. Thibodeaux and the survivors of the team managed to beam back safely, but USS Triton was severely damaged and nearly brought out of orbit by Klingon attacks. A total of 32 crew members were killed. By the time Triton limped back to Starstation McCall, the Federation was on the verve of war with the Klingon Empire. These hostilities led to the four years war some 40 years later were unremitting for the next 80 years until the signing of the Khitomer accords.
Ships of the Hyperion class served in a wide range of roles, including long-range explorers, command ships, border-patrol ships, and escort/sentries. Several ships also served with civilian agencies, such as the UFP Institute of Science. However the class was relatively lightly armed and rarely used in a front line role The last ship was retired from active service in 2229.
USS Pacatrix, which saw extensive service as a long-range explorer both inside and outside Federation space, is now on display at the Starfleet Museum.
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