The Sawyer class Scout entered service in 2242. Designed as a fast scout for use in non combat areas, a total of 69 were built.
On paper, the Sawyer was an excellent vessel, being both efficient and fast. The class was however always mistrusted by crews as it had earned an unenviable reputation as a result of a number of ships being lost. The USS Gulliver, destroyed at Axanar earned the class another unwanted footnote in history as being the first ship to be destroyed in the Four Years War in 2252.
The growing area of hostilities meant that few areas could really be deemed as being ‘non combat’ and during 2253 losses of the Sawyer Class mounted to an alarming extent. The situation came to a head in November 2253 when three of the surviving 40 ships of the class were lost with all hands. Starfleet Command immediately ordered that the ships be withdrawn from active service.
The reason for the failure of the class is hard to pinpoint, for their time they were not too badly armed or shielded, and they had a fair turn of speed and good manoeuvrability. In all 36 ships survived to be withdrawn from service, but they were soon pressed back into service as Trainers for Starfleet Academy . It was while serving in this role that a potential cause of the losses was found. It was discovered that the warp nacelle assembly, although rated for landing operations was in fact susceptible to stress damage, examination of the service history of the lost vessels showed that many were among the fleet leaders for number of landings.
As a result of this discovery all Sawyer class ships were withdrawn from any use in 2261, and were subsequently sold for scrap.
The lessons learned from the Sawyer debacle were implemented on all subsequent designs that had landing capability, and were retrofitted to existing designs. Chief among these improvements was an early type of structural reinforcement field that was used during take off and landing, as well during atmospheric operations to reduce stress on the hull and warp nacelle assembly.
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